Thursday, May 6, 2021

Rapid urbanization poses serious housing challenges for Botswana

The sub-Saharan Africa, which will lead the next wave of urbanisation, is expected to face huge housing challenges, according to a new study by the World Bank.

The survey, Stocktaking o f the Housing Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa noted that as Africa’s urban transformation continues and the size of the urban population in African countries increases, the availability of quality housing and the buildup of a functional housing sector will become key priorities to create functional and livable cities, and to support national economic growth and job creation.

 

By 2050, Africa is projected to reach 1.2 billion urban dwellers, an urbanisation level of 58 percent and an average density of 79 persons per square kilometer. Botswana is not spared as it is urbunising at close to 60 percent, the report noted.

This present challenges for the provision of housing units to the population with state owned Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) currently failing to meet the demand and forced to sell expensive units as the parastatal services the land.

 

The World Bank’s Kenya Urbanisation Review (2015) found a lower limit unit cost of $43,956 in Nairobi, which is the same for Botswana, a country with a much higher perÔÇÉcapita income than Malawi or Ghana.

 

“For example, the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) sells their least expensive 54 m2 unit on a 400 m2 plot at US$55,564,” the World Bank report said.

 

“BHC suggests a minimum monthly mortgage payment of US$450 for this property, which means that at a 30 percent affordability level, a household must earn at least US$1,402 a month to pay it off.”

 

The report stated that given that half of Botswana lives on less than the international poverty line of US$60/month, it is clear that even the country’s primary housing developer and sole government housing authority cannot reach more than half of the population with new, formallyÔÇÉconstructed units.

However, the report noted that Gambia and Democratic Republic of Congo, two countries with low perÔÇÉcapita incomes, have among the highest housing prices; they are more than twice those of Botswana and South Africa, which have higher perÔÇÉcapita incomes.

 

Africa is the globe’s leastÔÇÉurbanised continent, accommodating 11.3 percent of the world’s urban population, and the subÔÇÉSaharan region is the continent’s leastÔÇÉurbanized area. Nonetheless, the region’s cities are expanding rapidly.

 

The United Nations predicts that Africa will overtake Asia as the world’s most rapidly urbanizing region by 2025 (UN 2014). In the coming 20 years, the total population of the continent will exceed the combined populations of Europe and the Americas.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper