Shelter Afrique, the pan-African housing and finance firm, has announced the launch of its housing affordability calculator aimed at improving the viability of affordable housing projects on the continent.
By Muhammad Usman
A press statement by the firm released on Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya, said the new device would enhance the understanding of housing affordability on the continent, in relation to demand and supply.
“The question of what is affordable is pervasive, but the answer still eludes us. Basically, housing affordability is a function of the purchase price, finance and the cost of living. However, if household affordability is not accurately gauged by public or private sector developers, then there is a serious risk that there will be insufficient effective demand by households to purchase or rent the houses produced,” Dr Muhammad Gambo, head of policy, research and partnerships at Shelter Afrique was quoted to have said.
Gambo, who said the viability of affordable housing projects depends on accurate methods for gauging buyer affordability as well as achieving unit costs that meet those affordability constraints, maintained the new calculator would help “stakeholders in the built environment industry to better address issues of housing affordability and to improve the targeting and viability of their affordable housing projects.”
The statement said while the push for housing development across Africa had led to a boom in new homes, high construction costs, infrastructure, land and compliance costs meant the majority of such houses were unaffordable to the majority of prospective buyers.
“In most countries in Africa, even the cheapest newly-built house is still not affordable to the majority of the urban population, leading to high vacancy rates as we’ve seen in some countries such as Nigeria and Kenya. Developer-built housing typically targets the higher end, and is rarely delivered at scale. But even a USD20, 000 house is unaffordable for the majority – and these are only available in limited projects,” Gambo said.
Founded in 1982, Shelter-Afrique prides itself as the only pan-African finance institution exclusively supporting the development of housing and urban development on the continent. Its shareholders include 44 African countries, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Re-Insurance Corporation (Africa Re), and Fonds de Solidarité Africain (FSA). It is mandated to provide financing through debt, quasi-equity, and equity to both public and private institutions for housing and urban infrastructure projects across its member countries.
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