Nairobi 4 March 2014 - More than 200 participants from 40 African countries took part in three consultation workshops organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with UN-Habitat to discuss the challenges and opportunities to improve access to affordable housing in Africa. The events took place in Casablanca, Morocco (Feb 12-13), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Feb 17- 18) and Dakar, Senegal (Feb 23- 24).

Since October 2014, the African Development Bank and UN-Habitat have been undertaking a continental study on Africa’s housing market dynamics. The objective of the study is to provide a detailed analysis of Africa’s housing market and better understand the main constraints preventing the government, private sector and other stakeholders from serving the lower end. The study focuses on issues related to the finance of housing supply and demand, access to land and infrastructure, cost and productivity in the construction sector, and slum upgrading.

The workshops in Casablanca, Addis Ababa and Dakar were organized to present and consult on the preliminary findings of the study and to facilitate exchanges of experiences between countries in the different regions. Participants from the Africa’s public and private sectors, finance institutions, academia, international organizations and NGOs gathered to discuss housing market issues and share recommendations to strengthen the sector.

Background to the worksops

Access to adequate and affordable housing remains a major challenge for people across Africa. The continent has experienced the fastest demographic growth over the last decade, with an annual urbanization rate of 3.5%. The current population of 1.1 billion people is expected to double by 2050. Besides, 40,000 people per day will be migrating to cities across Africa over the next 15 years in search of jobs, a better life and enhanced economic opportunities.

Inevitably, Africa’s rapid urbanization is placing enormous pressure on the limited infrastructure in many cities, and stretching municipalities financially and socially to their breaking point. Moreover, the failure of policies and the formal housing market to cater to the housing needs of the poor and lower middle-income households have translated to the growth in slum populations. Over 200 million Africans live in slums, with some cities accommodating more than 70% of slum dwellers.

More concerted efforts are needed to establish affordable housing and slum upgrading at the scales needed. This joint initiative from the AfDB and UN-Habitat will result in a flagship publication with recommendations for governments, development finance institutions, private sector and other Habitat Agenda partners alike. In addition, it comes at an opportune moment as the Habitat III Conference is approaching and will provide an opportunity to engage with stakeholders at global level, mobilize partners to redefine the role of housing in the “New Urban Agenda” for the 21st Century.