Habitat for Humanity hosts Africa Housing Forum

Housing experts, policymakers, industry leaders, international nonprofits, multilateral organizations, and various other stakeholders across the housing ecosystem will be assembling at the Africa Housing Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, May 12-14, 2022. The forum, featuring both in-person and virtual formats, will act as a platform for solutions that promote affordable housing as a driver of economic growth in Africa.

The forum carries the theme Fostering Inclusivity and Resilience in Housing in Africa and is part of a global series of regional housing forums coordinated by Habitat for Humanity in collaboration with partners, including UN-HABITAT. The first-ever housing forum organized by Habitat for Humanity on the continent, the Africa Housing Forum also is supported by the Hilti Foundation, the European Union, and the Somfy Foundation.

As a key milestone before the pivotal UN 9th Africities Summit in Kisumu, Kenya, the forum will inform renewed action towards sustainable, affordable housing in Africa.

“I want to thank Habitat for Humanity for choosing Kenya to be the host of this event. It is especially important to note that it is the first-ever event of its kind in Africa, meaning that Kenya is gaining recognition globally as a leader in innovative solutions that foster affordable and decent housing,” said Charles Hinga, Kenya’s principal secretary of housing and urban development.

He added that the government had prioritised housing to foster inclusivity and economic growth in Kenya. “Under the Big 4 agenda of the Kenyan government, we have been working with partners to alleviate the housing challenge that we face as a country. Initiatives like the Africa Housing Forum are important for African nations that face similar infrastructure challenges,” added Hinga.

“The Africa Housing Forum will highlight the housing challenges faced by countries across the continent as well as the innovative solutions coming from the region’s corporations, governments and nonprofits,” said Maurice Makoloo, Habitat for Humanity International’s vice president for Africa. “We will focus our discussions on the role of housing in driving the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in a more sustainable and inclusive way that brings together housing sector stakeholders from across the continent. We invite industry leaders, government agencies, academics, and the many other stakeholders to be part of this important event.”.

The housing deficit in Africa is large and growing. About 238 million people live in informal settlements. The affordability gap is larger than any other continent. And land tenure security and governance challenges continue to limit equitable access to housing.

UN Habitat projects that 50% of people in sub-Saharan Africa will be living in towns and cities by 2030, primarily due to soaring population growth and rural urban migration. The result has been a substantial shortage of housing, in terms of both quantity and quality, as well as a proliferation of slums and other informal settlements.

Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that access to adequate housing can be a front-line defence against contagious disease.  When ‘Stay home, save lives’ became a global mantra to contain COVID-19, many low-income and vulnerable families already living in inadequate housing saw their living conditions substantially worsened.

The Africa Housing Forum is the fourth such event held around the world over the past year. The Latin America and the Caribbean Housing Forum kicked off the series in May 2021, followed by the Europe Housing Forum in November and the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in December.