“Extending access to housing finance across Africa” – Kecia Rust
Kecia Rust from the Centre for Affordable Housing in South Africa in this lecture discusses the current state of housing finance in Africa.
If cities are built the way they are financed (Renaud, 1984), then Africa’s cities are set to change. Innovation in housing finance – in terms of products, players, and approaches, not to mention target markets – is a key feature across the continent, creating new opportunities for investment and delivery. As both local and international investors chase growth opportunities in a sluggish global economy, they are employing diversification strategies to manage the risks of their traditional targets – and in this, residential property is increasingly becoming an option. And while established players are getting better at what they do, new players are adding to the mix and competing for opportunities.
Investors are faced with a paradox, however. By their very nature, they are drawn to the high income markets. It is in these markets that they can price adequately for risk and realize the returns they seek. However, the real story – the scale opportunity just waiting to be cracked – is in the lower income market segments. The arguments for investment in residential – high urbanization rates, a growing middle class, a shortage of supply – these are all arguments for moving down market into the uncharted waters of affordable housing. Can investors and developers do it? In 2015, this is a very real focus.
Five stories characterize Africa’s housing finance markets in 2015:
1. Innovation in financing
2. Growing awareness of the opportunity in residential
3. The identification of niche markets and an appreciation of the affordability challenge
4. Policy & regulatory evolution to match investor interest
5. Growing experience and investor sophistication
Of course, the challenges are not insignificant. But increasingly, investors and developers are noting that the potential benefits outweigh the risks. And, as governments come to appreciate the potential that this interest offers, their efforts to streamline development processes and enable their local housing markets to grow are creating new opportunities that are beginning to change the face of African cities. These developments can be enhanced however – there is a real opportunity to draw in private sector engagement more significantly, and this should be carefully considered within the Habitat III deliberations and the Agenda that emerges from that, as well as the African Agenda.
The lecture considers these issues and the current state of housing finance in Africa, as set out in the 2015 edition of the Housing Finance in Africa Yearbook.
Kecia Rust is the Executive Director and founder of the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF). She is a housing policy specialist and has provided strategic support to governments in South Africa in the development of national, provincial and local housing policy for the past 20 years. She was the Housing Finance Coordinator at the FinMark Trust from 2003-2014, from where CAHF was established. Under her direction, CAHF was appointed as the Secretariat to the African Union for Housing Finance, an association of about 40 mortgage banks, building societies, housing corporations and other organisations involved in the mobilisation of funds for shelter and housing across Africa. CAHF’s work is represented on its website: www.housingfinanceafrica.org
As Housing Finance Theme Coordinator for FinMark Trust, and now as the Director of CAHF, Kecia has developed a focused research and advocacy programme to promote increased investment in affordable housing across Africa. Through this work, housing finance is increasingly recognised as an important component of financial inclusion and private sector development policy.
Kecia’s expertise in the housing sector is broad. Over the span of her career, she has focused on affordable housing finance, residential property assets and property markets, rental and social housing, and the creation of sustainable human settlements, among other issues. A key line of research started in 2003 when she coordinated a study into the performance of township residential property markets in South Africa. More recently, in 2010, the findings of this study were updated in a further analysis of the asset performance of government subsidised housing in South Africa.
Kecia participated in the Wharton School’s International Housing Finance Programme, in Philadelphia, USA, in 2007. She holds a Masters of Management degree (1998), earned from the Graduate School of Public and Development Management, University of the Witwatersrand. She obtained her Bachelors Degree with Distinction and Honours in International Studies (1990), from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, where she was a Morehead Scholar.
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