Africa Cover Economy

Arresting Africa’s Looming Housing Crisis

Joseph Chikolwa,AUHF’s New Chairman

AUHF’s Abidjan Declaration  Provides Vital Clues  

Story: Mohammed Abu,Accra

Thiry(30) active members of the African Union for Housing Finance(AUFH) as part of its recently held  34th Annual Conference and AGM  following consultations  with colleagues from the public and private sectors from  twenty-nine countries in a Declaration in Abidjan  on October 25 ,expressed  their  commitment to promoting the development of housing finance across the African continent.

The Context

The declaration  took cognisance of the fact that ,Africa has a  growing, urbanizing, young population; in which 60% are under the age of 25.

“ It is estimated that half of global population growth between now and 2050 will occur in Africa, with an estimated additional 1.3 billion people. At the same time, growing rates of urbanization are shifting the population of the continent from one that has been predominantly rural to one that is increasingly urban. It is expected that by 2035, about half of Africa’s population will be living in urban areas.

“An environment marked by stark mismatches between housing demand and supply in the affordable housing submarkets, which manifest in housing backlogs that force the majority of low and middle income dwellers into substandard and informal dwelling conditions; but which also offers insights into innovation as low and middle income residents seek to meet their own housing needs independently outside of the traditional housing delivery channels, and through incremental housing construction.

“An increased presence and interest of global and local investors in the region, who, constrained by lack of transparent, clear and actionable information, limit their presence in the housing sector and where present, concentrate in the high and middle income submarkets”.

The Way Forward

To this end,the Declaration on Housing , called on governments at the regional, national, state or provincial, and local levels to actively support the vision for adequate , decent and affordable housing for all across our continent, by undertaking to do the following:

“To assert the critical role that macro-economic policy and financial regulation play in realising effective housing markets. Measures that reduce policy interest rates, lower maturity premiums and credit risk premiums, and leverage the utilization of collateral value will all stimulate investment and the availability of affordable housing finance. They are fundamentally driven by macro-economic policy and should be a priority of Central Banks.

“To institute measures that stimulate the attention of long-term finance (pension funds, institutional investors, etc.) on affordable housing as an investment target.

“To use incentives to encourage innovation in both mortgage and non-mortgage lending for housing that explicitly targets lower income earners including youth and women in the affordable housing sector.

“To strengthen property and collateral registration and foreclosure mechanisms, improving transaction timeframes, and to ensure the transparency of the collateral registry through free access to record-level data. We recommend the automation of deeds registries.

“To insist, through regulation, on credit information-sharing and the development of an effective and comprehensive credit reference system that covers all financially active consumers and stimulates market transparency.

“To facilitate through public education, knowledge on different options of access to adequate, decent and affordable housing for different populations including low income, youth and women.

The Declaration  also encouraged,invited and urged international development finance institutions and other development agencies specifically, to amoung other things ,target affordable housing with capital that is patient with time, target and capacity, promoting blended finance arrangements that manage risk sustainably, and explicitly pursue innovation that shifts investor focus towards affordable housing.

“The AUHF is keen to engage with respective governments at the regional, national and sub-national level on both macro and micro-economic issues, including interest rates, tax and monetary policy, and housing and land policies as they influence the growth and performance of housing markets.

“The AUHF and its members look forward to working with governments and other stakeholders, in their respective cities, countries, and across the continent, in driving investments in Africa’s housing sector so that it contributes substantially to Africa’s growth agenda”.

AUHF Gets New Board

A new eight-member Board of Directors were also elected by the AUHF membership who are to serve serve for two years.

They are in the persons of Mr. Joseph Chikolwa, Managing Director of Zambia National Building Society, as AUHF Chairperson,Mr Andrew Chimphondah, Chief Executive of Shelter Afrique as AUHF Deputy Chairperson,Dr Chii Akporji Executive Director of Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company as Secretary,and Mr Cas Coovadia, Managing Director of the Banking Association of South Africa as Treasurer.

The rest are,Mr Christian Agossa, Director General of Caisse Régionale de Refinancement Hypothécaire de l’UEMOA, CRRH-UEMOA,Mr Mehluli Mpofu, Deputy Managing Director of Central Africa Building Society (CABS),Mr Mfundo Mabaso, Growth Head of FNB Home Finance, a division of First Rand Bank Limited and Mr Oscar Mgaya, Chief Executive Officer of Tanzania Mortgage Refinance Company.

The African Union for Housing Finance was established as a member based body of housing lenders in 1984. Comprising 30 active members from 17 countries, the AUHF seeks to promote the growth of housing finance across Africa, building institutional capacity at the local level and working with governments for the development of policies conducive for market development.

Through its meetings and activities, the research it undertakes and the news it disseminates to its members, the AUHF has consistently championed the growth of housing finance markets for the benefit of Africa’s populations.