African governments should embark on policy and regulatory reforms to attract investments required to bridge a housing deficit occasioned by rapid population growth, a pan-African housing financier, Shelter Afrique, said on Tuesday.

Daniel Nghidinua, chairman of Shelter Afrique, said enactment of new policies and laws was key to addressing bottlenecks to home ownership that included lack of access to credit and high cost of land in urban areas.

“There is a surge in the demand for urban infrastructure and housing in Africa, but unfortunately, investments are often lagging behind, hence the inability for people to own homes,” Nghidinua said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

He said rising cost of construction materials and insecure land tenure had driven up housing prices, hurting low income earners.

The UN Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) says the African continent requires 4 million housing units annually to meet a growing demand, mainly in big cities and rural towns.

Nghidinua said policy interventions were required to streamline land tenure and promote uptake of alternative building technologies to bridge housing deficit in Africa.

He proposed creation of robust public-private partnerships to stimulate investments in housing for middle and low income segment of the population.

“We believe that coordinated actions and investments by governments, the private sector and communities across the continent will help tackle housing crisis,” said Nghidinua.

Andrew Chimphondah, managing director of Shelter Afrique, said urgent action was needed to stave off a housing crisis that was undermining Africa’s growth and transformation.

“Many African countries are unable to meet housing needs of the citizens,” he said.

“Uganda is facing an annual deficit of 1.6 million housing units, Kenya 2 million housing units, Tanzania 3 million units; South Africa and Nigeria are facing a deficit of 3 million and 17 million housing units respectively,” Chimphondah said. Enditem

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