12 Apr, 2017
Source: Augustine Chimwaza

Housing is far behind the ever expanding population even for African countries that have developed economies such as South Africa.

By 2035, Nigeria will have 174 million people, the Democratic Republic of Congo will have 70 million, Kenya will have 45 million and South Africa will have 40 million according to UN Habitat.

To house these growing populations, Nigeria would need to create 17 million units annually; Ghana would need 170,000 new housing units every year over the next 10 years, and Kenya would need two million homes.


Such is the depth of the crisis that the City of Cape Town in South Africa wants the whole city to be declared a restructuring zone which allows for any suitable land to be used for social housing. It was revealed that US$101 billion is needed for another 650 000 housing opportunities in the next 20 years.

A restructuring zone is a demarcated area where a national subsidy can be used to build social housing. This is part of measures of trying to address the housing crisis which estimates  that  the housing backlog stands at about 2,1 to 2,5 million are needed  in South Africa  which equates to 12 million people currently without adequate housing.

An analyst from the think tank Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe says the acute shortage of affordable accommodation is due to the failure by most Africa governments to prioritise this fundamental need.

“We have experimented with all sorts of development paradigms on the continent which have not been sustainable,” he points out. “The housing problem has never been about resources alone, it is also about prioritization. Most governments focus on macro-economic stabilization ahead of critical needs such as housing and health. Macro- economic stabilisation is not an end in itself but a means to an end.”

However it is not all gloom and doom as several organisations are joining the bandwagon to provide affordable housing. One of them is Realty Africa which is focused on providing affordable housing.

“Affordable housing is definitely a space Realty Africa wants to occupy, but let’s be clear, looking into the future and going forward we strive to transform how affordable housing is built,” says Realty Africa co- founder and CEO, Patrick Chella. “The traditional way of using bricks and cement structures is expensive and very time consuming.  Instead we want to partner with architects that will rethink the use of materials and the way we build in order to re-design sustainable housing with materials that are not only stronger but more durable than the bricks and cement structure.

The affordable houses also have to be easily replicated so that thousands can be built rapidly without loss in quality. In this way we can meet the challenge of housing more urgently than laying brick by brick.”


by: Augustine Chimwaza