Housing Finance in Africa: Central to a post COVID-19 resilience and recovery strategy

This blog originally appeared as the introductory essay to the 2020 edition of the Housing Finance in Africa Yearbook.

2020 will forever be remembered as the one when we all stayed at home. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the continent implemented stringent lockdown regulations that closed businesses and schools and enforced curfews. Aside from the economic impact which was both immediately and significantly palpable, the lockdown brought the state of housing into sharp focus: many households across Africa do not have a home they can comfortably stay in.

This is not new information. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has simply exposed and exacerbated the persistent state of disaster in which a majority of urban households across the continent live, whether in informal settlements, tenement blocks, inner city buildings, lower-income townships, or suburbs; and whether they rent, or own, or share their homes. What is different, however, is the recognition that the impact of this extends beyond the household to the wider community, the city, and the nation as a whole. Whether it is a commentary on the risks that households face, an assessment of household resilience to further emergencies, or an anticipation of the measures needed to stimulate recovery from this period, housing is and must be at the centre of the discussion. In 2020, we all came home to understand the significance of housingas a key, real economy issue, highlighting both responsibility and opportunity for government and the private sector, for the development community, and for households themselves.

Understanding the impact of COVID-19

As of 25 October 2020, there were 1.7 million confirmed cases across the continent, with 40 961 deaths and 1.4 million recoveries.[1]  South Africa has been the hardest hit in Africa, followed by Morocco, Egypt and Ethiopia. While the number of confirmed cases in Africa are less than five percent of those registered worldwide, the future trajectory remains unclear. A second wave in Europe and North America suggests the same will follow in this continent, putting pressure on governments to carefully consider the degree of lockdown they impose on their economies.

Quite clearly, the risk of infection is exacerbated by poor housing conditions. Overcrowding, poor access to water and sanitation services, and high densities especially in inner city buildings and informal settlements all militate against effective management of the risk of infection. Limited access to healthcare compounds these risks as the sick stay home in inadequate conditions.[2]

At the same time, the lockdown measures imposed have created an (un)virtuous economic cycle that starts with declining revenues which put pressure on businesses such that they lay off workers, leading to declining household affordability for goods and services, putting further pressure on businesses, and so on. This impacts, of course, on the taxation framework such that, at the very moment when government needs greater resources to address the effects of the pandemic, it has less to meet even its most basic responsibilities.  An UNCTAD report estimates that economic activity in African economies will contract by 1.4 percent in 2020, with smaller economies contracting by as much as 7.8 percent.[3] The World Bank expects that up to 40 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty. Post COVID-19 is uncertain – depending on the progress of the pandemic, a slow, 2.1 percent rate of growth is predicted for 2021, rising to 3.2 percent for Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.[4]

While the explicit impact on the housing sector – residential construction and rental, as well as housing services – has not been explicitly or comprehensively quantified, it can be imagined. As households have a declining capacity to pay their rental and other housing costs, their savings are also being depleted, challenging their resilience to other economic shocks. This challenges the sustainability of housing businesses, many of which already exist on the margin. There is a serious risk that many will go out of business, depleting the housing supply and management sector just when it has slowly been building up capacity. In particular, given the already low-margins, this is likely to have an impact on the delivery and management of affordable housing, and therefore also on the viability of low-income neighbourhoods where these businesses have operated. In the financial sector, rising NPLs are putting mortgage books at risk just as they are growing. In Kenya, for example, the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company’s (KMRC) CEO Johnstone Oltetia reported that some banks’ mortgage portfolios poised for refinancing had to be re-evaluated as some of their collateral was no longer sufficient.[5]This has led the just-licensed[6]KMRC to rethink some of their growth projections, and to focus on alternative strategies to assist lenders to weather the downturn.

With housing central to our experience of the pandemic, the housing strategy across Africa must work to address risk, stimulate recovery, and ensure resilience. Quality, affordable housing becomes all the more important in a post-COVID world, while we need to do much more with much less.

Ironically, this may just be the opportunity that Africa’s affordable housing sector needs to truly grow and develop to the demands of the continent.

Addressing risk

Our first challenge is to address the risks that households face, whether in the face of COVID-19 or any other emergency. These are substantially influenced by both the quality of housing and the financial capacity of the household. According to UN Habitat, over 60 percent of African urban households, or 238 million people, live in slum conditions– and this population comprises about 23 percent of all households who live in slum conditions worldwide.[7]The most recent data for this is for 2018. It is collected every two years by UN Habitat as part of their monitoring of Target 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).[8]

In many African countries, more than half the urban population is living in slums. In the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Sudan, over 75 percent of urban populations live in slums. We can see that in most countries, the situation has improved since 2010. In some cases, improvements have been significant: Angola went from 65 percent of the population living in slums in 2010 to about 47 percent in 2018; Ethiopia went from 75 percent to 62 percent; Madagascar from 75 percent to 60 percent; Niger from 80 percent to 57 percent; Rwanda from 65 percent to 42 percent; and Tanzania from 62 percent to 40 percent. The situation has deteriorated in Zambia which went from 24 percent to 33 percent; and the DRC, from 60 percent to 76 percent. Only Egypt (5 percent), Morocco (10 percent) and Tunisia (8 percent) have a significant minority of their urban populations living in slums in 2018.

According to the UN, the definition of indicator 11.1.1 “proportion of urban population living in slums” is “the proportion of urban population lacking at least one of the following five housing conditions: access to improved water; access to improved sanitation facilities; sufficient living area and not overcrowded; structural quality / durability of dwellings; and security of tenure.”[9]Crafting a response to the challenge of slums, therefore, requires a more careful analysis of the data. It is in the nuance, that market opportunity can also be found.

For example, looking at the percentage of the bottom 40thurban population living in three countries, Nigeria, Cameroon and Zambia, virtually all households are living in inadequate conditions, as classified under the SDG 11 definition.

Notes: a dwelling is considered informal if one of the materials used in its construction is not finished. Households without access to flush sanitation have no waterborne sewage disposal. A dwelling is overcrowded if the number of members per sleeping room exceeds two.

Source: Demographic and Health Surveys[10]Nigeria (2018), Cameroon (2018), Zambia (2018). Analysis prepared by 71point4.

Of these, less than half are living in informal structures, however. The primary inadequacy that they face has to do with services – lacking a flush toilet – and being overcrowded. This suggests an infrastructure and home improvement challenge, involving more targeted, niche and possibly off-grid solutions, rather than necessarily the development of new housing. Initiatives such as iBuild Global can help in this regard – providing consumers with access to housing products and services that can address their maintenance and improvement needs. Housing microfinance can also assist by providing specially targeted microloans that recognise the specific and niche market gaps in the housing circumstances of low income households.

Ultimately, whatever interventions are made to address household risk to emergencies, will also have a direct impact on the progress of the SDGs. Good housing drives access to basic services and impacts profoundly on the health and well-being of low income households. With urban and home-based agriculture, housing provides a base for realising food security. Good accommodation can enhance the performance of school children, improving their ability to access quality education. Access to clean water and sanitation is secured at the household level through the delivery of good, affordable housing. Increasing access to affordable housing finance builds the economic infrastructure in support of productive housing markets for all.

Stimulating recovery

Our second challenge is to address the effects on the economy caused by the lockdown, and to stimulate economic recovery at the domestic level. The construction, maintenance and transacting of housing (which includes both sales and leases) contributes substantially to economic growth and job creation, which can have very tangible local impacts. In research reviewing the impact of housing on the economies of Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa, we’ve found that the contribution to GDP can be as high as 14 percent of the total economy, taking both housing construction and rental into account.[11]

The reason for this contribution has to do with the economic activity that housing stimulates – upstream demand for building materials and labour, as well as the manufactured goods that go into a house, such as geysers, window and door frames, and so on, as well as the downstream demand for home improvements and the services associated with the management of rental properties.[12]All of this economic activity also contributes towards employment. Countries that promote housing construction can use this to stimulate job creation not only in the housing sector directly, but in manufacturing and services as well, further contributing to economic growth.

For example, in Uganda, 75 percent of the intermediate inputs contributing towards the construction and rental economic value chains were sourced from secondary sectors – that is, manufactured goods. Only two percent were sourced from primary sectors, and 22 percent from tertiary (services) sectors. Total intermediate inputs comprised 5.2 percent of Uganda’s GDP in 2018, and another 5.8 percent of GDP was contributed by the gross value added by the housing construction and rental sectors. The employment contribution is also significant: formal housing construction contributes about 131 000 jobs to the economy. While there is little data available for Uganda’s rental sector, the number of informal sector landlords that earn all or part of their income from rentals is significant, and likely higher still than the formal employment statistic. With a total impact on GDP of 11 percent, housing clearly plays a significant role in Uganda’s economy.[13]

The research shows that if housing production were to be increased as a key economic recovery strategy, this would have a significant impact on GDP overall – that is, by addressing issues of risk and backlog, the housing production effort would also be contributing to economic recovery. In Uganda, this would require concerted, Cabinet-level attention to the key barriers undermining affordable housing delivery today, including the land titling framework; policies and finance in support of residential rental and self-build housing; attention to the enabling environment in support of local manufacturing and local services, especially those offered by small scale providers; the supply of critical infrastructure; and attention to the macro-economic environment to reduce the cost of borrowing.

With local variations, of course, this is the recipe for virtually every country across the continent: attention to the blockages along the value chain with a specific focus on affordability. In virtually every country, the formal, private construction sector is not delivering housing that is affordable to the majority of the population. The consequence of this is that the housing aspirations of these households cannot be leveraged in support of economic growth. While demand of the majority of the population lies latent, unmet by affordable supply, these households meet their housing needs incrementally and independently, often in the slum conditions that then get captured by national statistics.

As in previous years, CAHF has collected data on the price of the cheapest newly built house, built by a private developer. This is not the cheapest house that can be built, but rather the one that has been built and made available for sale on the formal market. In this, it is a reflection of where the market is targeting its efforts. Aside from at the extremes, the price of housing is not easily correlated with its size. Most of the entry-level homes costing more than US$20 000 are larger than 50m2. Might their price tag improve if they were built smaller?

Again in 2020, the cheapest newly built house in Africa is the Millard Fuller Foundation’s 32m2unit on the outskirts of Abuja. Available for US$8 040, this is about as low as the market appears to go.[14]  It is worth noting that this house, available in a 400-unit development, is the very same house that was available in 2019 – no new houses have been built at this price, and this development continues to hold unsold stock. One reason for this may be its location, about 30km from the capital city of Abuja. Still, at current financing rates, it is affordable to an estimated 68 percent of the population. The question for developers, policymakers and regulators to consider is whether that same priced house might be achievable on better located land, perhaps with some form of state support, and at a scale to respond to the demand. According to data provided by CGIDD and our calculations based on the prevailing mortgage products available in Nigeria, an estimated 6,5 million households are likely to be able to afford a house priced between the US$8 040 Millard Fuller Foundation house and another one costing US$10 000. Nigeria’s numbers are dramatic: imagine what the economy in Nigeria might look like if it were actually feasible to build that many houses in that price range. At the very least, could we imagining a doubling of the output?  And what would this take from government?

In most countries across Africa, the cheapest newly built house sits somewhere between US$20 000 and US$40 000. As with the Millard Fuller Foundation house, however, very few of these houses are actually available on the market – they are more anomaly than the norm. And then, there are many countries where the cheapest newly built house this year is entirely unaffordable – on the market for more than US$40 000. This year, the most expensive of these is in Tanzania. At US$77 949, it is affordable to 2,6 percent of the urban population, or about 111 220 urban households. Offer a house rather at a price of between US$10 000- US$15 000, and 870 004 households would be able to afford it.

The constraints arising from the COVID lockdowns have made 2020 a very difficult year for construction, and have put pressure on house prices, challenging housing affordability. In addition to delayed delivery timeframes, many countries have faced building materials shortages and a consequent rise in prices, as global value chains have struggled to deliver the steel, cement, sanitaryware, rooftiles and other goods on which housing construction depends. The price of a 50kg bag of cement is a useful indicator that CAHF has used as a proxy for the wider sector. This year, while the price was below US$10 a bag in many countries, there were those where the cement price was still prohibitive: in the neighbourhood of $30 a bag in Eritrea, Mauritania and Sudan; and between US$10 – US$20 a bag in Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali and Rwanda.

A policy and delivery response to this must be some form of import substitution: a focus on the local manufacturing of building materials can extend the economic impact of the housing sector into the manufacturing sector, while also promoting sustainable construction that doesn’t include the transport costs (both financial and environmental) of getting the product to site.

Another critical barrier has to do with infrastructure. The same World Bank report makes this point quite strongly: “Africa’s cities are crowded and not economically dense. Investments in infrastructure and industrial and commercial structures have not kept pace with the concentration of people, nor have investments in affordable formal housing.”[15]As a result, they argue, African cities are 29 percent more expensive than cities in other countries at similar income levels.[16]

A recent review of housing delivery in Kenya, where affordable housing is receiving substantial attention from the state as one of the four key pillars of the current administration, showed that hardly any developer has developed more than 1000 units in total. The largest housing cooperative, NACHU, has built about 1 500 units with another 1 500 underway – but this is over the course of decades. Very few local developers have undertaken more than five projects. One of Kenya’s largest developers, Suraya, is in distress due to a failed Joint Venture agreement with its Encasa project, where municipal incapacity undermined the availability of infrastructure. Similarly, Karibu Homes struggled with their Athi River project – municipal capacity constraints undermined the timeframes of the project, which then undermined the affordability of the units.[17]

Housing finance then plays a role along each link of the housing value chain. The most basic consideration is the cost of finance – that is, the interest at which it is charged and the term over which it is offered. A key development this year was the registration of the KMRC by the Central Bank of Kenya. Joining a family of mortgage liquidity facilities in the region (the EMRC, TMRC, NMRC and CRRH[18]are others), the KMRC promises to provide capital into the market to enable not only commercial mortgage lenders, but also SACCOs, to refinance their portfolios in support of Kenya’s nationally prioritised Affordable Housing Programme. While providing liquidity, the KMRC will also have an important impact on the standardization of mortgage instruments and protocols, which will support investor confidence and ultimately improve the efficiency of the sector.

Africa’s mortgage markets are uneven. With mortgages reportedly available in every country, data on both the number of mortgages and the value of the mortgage portfolio is only available in 21 countries. Typical mortgage interest rates range from three percent in Gabon and four percent in Morocco – both likely subsidised – to 32 percent in Zambia, 26 percent in Guinea, and 25 percent in Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. A twenty-year tenor is typical in most countries, but in Guinea, the mortgage tenor is five years. In Mauritania, 35-year mortgages are reportedly typical.

While finance makes housing possible, it is also true that housing makes finance possible. Housing constitutes a vital component of the financial system, and plays a critical role in financial intermediation, assisting the flow of money through the economy. This is because housing is a leverage-able asset that can be used as collateral for other loans, thereby enabling private investment. In many developed economies, housing underpins a sizeable proportion of the assets of the financial sector through the mortgage instrument. This in turn underpins the efficacy of the money transmission mechanism in the household sector, enabling monetary authorities to manage economic growth cycles. In addition, whether financed with a mortgage or otherwise, housing consumption is in most cases, the largest share of household consumption, and often the most significant asset a household will ever have. The house is then a fulcrum around which a household’s financial and investment decisions are made, both influencing and enabling further financial activity.

The role of housing in the financial system becomes a particularly important feature in countries with more established financial systems and mortgage markets. In South Africa, for example, where the state has spent the last 26 years delivering upwards of 3.4 million government subsidised houses, these now form a new, entry-level rung on the housing ladder. For households willing to trade their properties and climb the ladder, these units offer an entry-level option that is currently cheaper than a newly built house. The challenge for lenders is to develop a micro-mortgage product of between about US$8 000 – US$20 000 that suits first time homebuyers in this market. Applying normal market churn rates, the opportunity is estimated to be upwards of 22 500 transactions annually. This would not only provide 22 500 buyers with formal homes, it would also provide the 22 500 sellers with equity to apply to their next purchase, improving the loan to value ratio in the process and stimulating demand for new construction. On top of this, it would provide mortgage lenders with 22 500 new clients, just when South Africa’s mortgage market was stagnating, offering opportunities for cross selling other financial products, and building a long term relationship with a brand new, untapped segment of the market.[19]

While attention to housing can explicitly drive an economic recovery agenda, these efforts contribute further to the realisation of the SDGs. Home ownership builds asset wealth, enables job creation, supports economic growth and facilitates financial intermediation. By enabling equal rights to economic resources, including ownership and control over land, the legal framework governing housing supports gender quality and reduces levels of inequality. Housing is a productive investment and can shift credit usage away from consumption, increasing income-earning potential, through home-based enterprises. A functioning housing market also enables municipal revenue collection, supporting sustainable cities.

Ensuring long term resilience

Our third challenge in a post-COVID environment is to build resilience against future shocks. Housing sits at the centre of a household’s experience of global emergencies such as the pandemic, or events which arise as a result of climate change. Inadequate housing conditions have a very real impact on the ability to cope, and as has been seen in recent months, staying at home in an informal settlement or inadequate dwelling can itself be a risk. In the context of climate change events, it is often the quality of housing that determines the household’s experience of the typhoon, cyclone, flood or fire – and where the event is so severe that the home is lost, this is the first thing that households seek to address in their recovery.

The significance of this was felt quite directly in Mozambique in 2019, when Cyclones Idai and Kenneth hit the coastline, with a direct impact in the city of Beira. Virtually all of Beira’s houses were damaged, and some totally destroyed. At that moment, affordable housing developer, Casa Real, was just finalizing its showcase housing units, with the lowest priced unit set at US$10 000. The Casa Real houses were very barely damaged – only the roofing sheets needed repair. Interestingly, the houses were not originally constructed with cyclone resilience in mind. However, as the first developer-built houses targeted at the very bottom end of Mozambique’s housing market, they offered clients a quality of construction not often achieved in incrementally built structures. Contrary to expectation, perhaps, Casa Real achieved affordability not through a reduction in building quality, but in managing the construction value chain more efficiently, structuring the project to enable cross subsidisation through the delivery of a diversity of housing products, and working with the city to realise a more efficient land use. Following the cyclone, Casa Real worked to repair what damage there had been with simple and affordable cyclone resilient building techniques. Like the COVID pandemic, climate change is indiscriminate with its impact. Casa Real’s experience has shown, however, that this doesn’t have to undermine affordability.[20]

Climate action and affordable and clean energy are both SDG targets that can be explicitly addressed through the housing construction process, improving the sustainability and affordability of housing and urban living. Renewable energy, sustainable sanitation and the use of sustainable building materials all contribute to the realisation of the SDGs at the household level. Green financing offers a key lever to effectively realise these goals.

An important contributor to resilience is howthe home functions as an asset, providing a secure claim to place, a base for household savings and investment, and a resource that can be passed on to heirs. In so many contexts across Africa, whether in countries with established cadastral systems such as South Africa, or in others where land is only just being titled for the first time, the ability of low income households to secure and represent their rights on a parcel of land is significantly constrained. The land management systems across the continent are old and incomplete: according to the Doing Business Indicators, 35 countries have a deeds registry that exists on paper. A further 15 have scanned their deeds registry into a partially digital format, and only four are engaged in some level of comprehensive digitization. The process of realising full digitization is long and complex. For example, the intention for an Electronic Deeds Registry System (EDRS) in South Africa was first discussed in Parliament in 2003. The EDRS Act was finally passed in December 2019 to provide for electronic deeds registration. With the Act, the development of an EDRS becomes possible – but it is not yet in place.[21]

Although every country can describe some sort of deeds registry, most only cover a fraction of the land available. Across the 55 countries surveyed in this Yearbook, data on the total number of residential properties with a title deed was available for only twenty-two. The World Bank recently highlighted the constraint with titling, citing a forthcoming UN Habitat paper that claims that only 10 percent of total land in Sub-Saharan Africa is registered.[22]  In rapidly urbanizing contexts where property values become established no matter the rights that underpin them, informal or unclear tenure systems create conflict which then interferes with land availability and negatively impacts on price. This, together with incomplete land administration systems, inhibits the use of land as collateral, which then constrains the ability of developers and households to access finance with which to build. How can households and businesses invest in land when they can’t clearly see who owns what?

An important proptech innovation being explored in a number of jurisdictions is blockchain technology. As a secure, immutable platform on which to record individual relationships to land and property, blockchains can create visibility, transparency and accountability. In this, they provide a level of certification and administrative rigour in the definition of an individual’s relationship to land, even when that is not yet legally confirmed through a formal (as legislated) registration process with a formal title deed. This creates a  very useful basis for establishing interim steps in a transaction process, a staging site of sorts, from which conflicting claims can be resolved and evolving relationships (as a result of death, divorce, etc.) can be recorded, before the more costly and time consuming engagement with the deeds registry itself. In contexts where the deeds registry is only now being developed, or where a paper registry is being digitised, a blockchain platform can facilitate the critical but more messy property-by-property attention that is required so that what is finally recorded is a true and accepted representation of how people actually relate to the land.

Interestingly, much of the innovation is being developed in association with developers and mortgage lenders who are using blockchain technology as a mechanism for managing “paperless mortgages” in environments where the deeds registry is less accessible or less trusted. For example, SESO Global has been working with developers and lenders in Ghana and Nigeria, providing sales platform that is underpinned by a blockchain register. In both Nigeria and South Africa, practitioners have formed PropTech associations, and an Africa-wide association, “PropTech Africa”, was launched in late 2019. An important initiative being driven by consulting company 71point4 in South Africa, is exploring how a blockchain-based platform can support land title regularisation, also in informal settlements, improving the administrative efficiency of low-value residential property transactions.[23]In all cases, the point of the blockchain is to create an accessible and trusted mechanism for recognising and documenting relationships to land.

Emergencies such as the current pandemic, or the climate events that are happening with increasing frequency and velocity, demand resilience both at the household and societal level. Much of this is located in, or emanates from, the house. A functioning housing sector contributes to the sustainability of local economies.[24] Good housing that can be easily traded within local property markets supports household mobility and the development of sound labour markets. Workers who are well-housed are more productive and better able to participate in the local economy. In addition, the municipal taxation of properties supports the sustainability of the local authority. As properties increase in value, through the combined investment efforts of households, businesses and the municipal government, this value is taxed, creating a revenue stream for the municipality, enabling further investment, which further supports growth. A city’s ability to invest in long-term infrastructure, or to pursue other development goals, is fundamentally influenced by its ability to raise capital to finance the effort from its local tax base.  All the while, developers package projects for investors to support, and households place their capital in these plans, seeking to realise their housing aspirations.

Promoting an Open Source culture in housing: a Data Agenda for Africa

Perhaps the most significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the housing sector has been the pressure that it has put on resources, both personal and public. The lessons we’re learning are not new. We have known for quite some time that the majority of households in Africa live in inadequate housing circumstances and that attention to this need is also a key economic growth opportunity. In the context of declining resources, however, this knowledge is now matched with an imperative to do things differently. There is neither time nor money to waste. We need to improve our efficiencies and better target our efforts, so that we can realise affordable housing for the breadth of society, and with this, lead a sustainable COVID recovery.

Data is fundamental to this. Beyond the basic facts of the matter – the nuance of demand, the housing situations, needs and capacities of people, the breadth and diversity of supply and performance of housing goods, services and finance, and so on – it is the transparency of information that really creates potential. In the technology sector and in the medical industry, an open source culture has supported collaboration that has allowed for innovation and development that might otherwise not have been possible. Access to generic alternatives to brand-name prescription drugs has made medicine accessible to lower income people by generating competition and reducing overall drug spending. This principle can be applied to the affordable housing sector as well.  Sharing data on the input, output and performance time and cost components of the housing delivery process and its management can reduce the barriers to entry for smaller players who have the flexibility to operate down market. It can support the implementation of quality standards, and enable the realisation of economies of scale across enterprises and initiatives.And by sharing genuine data in real time, practitioners can demonstrate with evidence where effective policy change is needed to support the delivery of housing at scale and down market. Overall, an open source approach can contribute towards an overall cost saving in the actual product and the time taken to achieve its delivery. When practitioners compete in how they accessdata, rather than in how they useit, we are wasting resources. 

This Yearbook is the most comprehensive source of information on housing in Africa that is currently available. And yet, the information it provides is limited, and insufficient to adequately support an innovative investment strategy, or a well-targeted delivery initiative. What the Yearbook provides is only the first step.  To achieve the vision, and to truly leverage the housing sector in support of our post-COVID-19 expectations, we require the full participation of all stakeholders in both the public and the private sector in making the data they collect available and accessible for analysis and engagement by the entire sector. With that, we can leave the building and renting of housing, and the regulation and enablement of the sector, to the people and institutions who are best placed to play those roles. All agree on the need and the opportunity.  It is with the data that they will able to apply their skills and resources to the task, with all the creativity and diversity that is needed.


[1]Africa CDC Dashboard. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). https://africacdc.org/COVID-19/  (Accessed 25 October 2020).

[2]Diana Mitlin (2020). Dealing with COVID-19 in the towns and cities of the Global South. Global Development Institute Blog. 25 March 2020. http://blog.gdi.manchester.ac.uk/dealing-with-COVID-19-in-the-towns-and-cities-of-the-global-south/(Accessed 26 October 2020).

[3]Gondwe, G. (2020) Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s Economic Development.  United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. July 2020. https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/aldcmisc2020d3_en.pdf(Accessed on 27 October 2020).

[4]Zeufack, Albert G., Calderon, Cesar; Kambou, Gerard; Kubota, Megumi; Cantu Canales, Catalina; Korman, Vijdan (2020). “Africa’s Pulse, No. 22” (October), World Bank, Washington, DC. Doi: 10.1596/978-1-4648-1568-3. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO.https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/34587 (Accessed 25 October 2020).

[5]Johnstone Oltetia, CEO KMRC, speaking at the East Africa Property Investment Summit, August 2020.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQXaU8LPwFY (Accessed 25 October 2020).

[6]The KMRC received its license from the Central Bank of Kenya on 18 September 2020, allowing it to provide fixed long-term wholesale financing to participating banks, microfinance banks and Saccos. See https://kmrc.co.ke/kmrc-receives-license-from-the-cbk-to-commence-lending-business/ (Accessed 25 October 2020).

[7]UNStats (2019). Make Cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2019/goal-11/(Accessed 25 October 2020).

[8]Target 11 of the SDGs reads that “by 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums”. It is supported by Indicator 11.1.1 “proportion of urban population living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing”. Global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/indicators/Global%20Indicator%20Framework%20after%202020%20review_Eng.pdf(Accessed 26 October 2020).

[9]For the full definition, including details on how each of the five housing conditions are themselves defined, see https://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/natlinfo/indicators/methodology_sheets/poverty/urban_slums.pdf dated 15 June 2007. (Accessed 25 October 2020).

[10]Demographic and Health Surveys are nationally-representative household surveys that provide data for a wide range of monitoring and impact evaluation indicators in the areas of population, health and nutrition.  https://dhsprogram.com/What-We-Do/Survey-Types/DHS.cfm(Accessed 27 October 2020).

[11]For more information on CAHF’s research into the impact of housing on the economy, see https://housingfinanceafrica.org/projects/housing-and-the-economy/

[12]For an overview of the methodology of the Housing Economic Value Chain studies see Gardner D and K Lockwood (2019). Comparing Housing Economic Value Chains in Four African Countries. https://housingfinanceafrica.org/documents/comparing-housing-economic-value-chains-in-four-african-countries/ (Accessed 25 October 2020). Note that the analysis doesn’t include downstream demand for furniture, appliances, and other housing services not related to rental.

[13]Gardner, D., Lockwood K., and Pienaar, J. (2020). Uganda’s housing construction and housing rental activities. Housing economic value chain and housing cost benchmarking analysis. August 2020. https://housingfinanceafrica.org/app/uploads/UGANDA-FINAL-formatted-version-V3-13102020.pdf (Accessed 25 October 2020).

[14]A note about methodologies: in order to determine the cheapest newly built house by a formal developer, CAHF asks the consultants writing for this Yearbook to contact three formal developers who are known for delivering to the affordable market, and request the sales price of the cheapest newly built house available on the market in the current year. The lowest priced house of these three becomes the basis for the CAHF indicator. There are likely houses built by cooperatives, or by owner-builders, that are cheaper than what is quoted here. Our intention, however, is to understand how the private market is responding to what it understands the demand to be.

[15]Ibid. Pg. 134.

[16]Ibid. Pg. 123.

[17]Analysis undertaken for AFD Proparco and presented at a webinar on 4 June 2020. Discussion with Seeta Shah, Senior Affordable Housing Specialist at FSD Kenya, on 26 October 2020.

[18]Egypt Mortgage Refinance Company, Tanzania Mortgage Refinance Company, Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company, Caisse Régionale de Refinancement Hypothécaire (CRRH-UEMOA).

[19]We’ve been working together with Cape Town consulting company 71point4, exploring these issues through the Transaction Support Centre. Visit https://housingfinanceafrica.org/projects/transaction-support-centre/

[20]For a detailed review of the Casa Real experience, see Nkhonjera, M. (2020). Affordable and Climate Resilient Building: A Case Study of Casa Real in Beira, Mozambique. Case Study Series 17, August 2020. https://housingfinanceafrica.org/app/uploads/Final-case-study_formatted.pdf(Accessed 26 October 2020).

[21]See South Africa’s Parliamentary Monitoring Group website www.pmg.org.za

[22]Zeufack, Albert G., Calderon, C.; Kambou, G.; Kubota, M.; Cantu C., Catalina; Korman, V. (2020). “Africa’s Pulse, No. 22” (October), World Bank, Washington, DC. Doi: 10.1596/978-1-4648-1568-3. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO. See https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/34587 (Accessed 25 October 2020).

[23]A report on this work is being produced. For more information visit https://www.71point4.com/Projects/south-africas-first-ever-blockchain-based-property-register-pilot/(Accessed 27 October 2020).

[24]Lall, S, J Henderson, A Venebles (2017). Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World. Published by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Washington DC. https://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/africa-regional-studies/publication/african-cities-opening-doors-to-the-world  (Accessed 22 April 2020).

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