Some momentum is building in the social housing sector. Largescale housing developments in most African countries have traditionally focused on the more expensive end of the market, while housing for those on a more limited income has generally been provided by residents themselves.
More interest in improving lower-cost housing, however, has prompted a string of new developments. It remains to be seen if this will be a successful approach, but at least the sector is finally attracting both interest and investment Windhoek Council in Namibia has come up with an innovative method of selecting project developers. Last August, the council present their proposals for new developments. Six companies were invited to construct show houses and Eco Beam Construction and Keystone Development Solutions have now been selected to develop large-scale housing schemes in eight parts of the city.
Windhoek mayor Agnes Kafula said: “Provision of affordable housing is at the centre stage of this council and we call on the administration through the office of the chief executive officer to fast track the full implementation of this project.” She added:
“This is the first phase of the construction of demo houses. As soon as we are satisfied with the units we will pave the way for the other companies and invite them to present their models.”
The council took into account construction costs and a reasonable profit margin for the developers, in addition to the income level of the target beneficiaries. Elsewhere, an offshoot of the UK Corner Group, Opecprime Properties, has been given the go-ahead by the Ugandan government to construct housing blocks with a total of 1,747 flats in Nakawa and Naguru over the next four years.
Once Phase 1 has been completed, the larger Phase 2 will be developed, although its scale has not yet been decided. Power, water and wastewater connections are being provided during construction, as laid down in the country’s ambitious long term housing plans. Despite progress in both sectors, the vast majority of Ugandan homes remain without access to power and water. Uganda is also attracting investment at the opposite end of the scale. Another British firm, construction consultancy Turner & Townsend, has opened an office in Kampala. The company’s managing director for Africa, Ian Donaldson, commented: “East Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world and there is a huge amount of opportunity to make a difference across a number of sectors, especially in the delivery of major infrastructure schemes.”