By Hilary Mare
NAMIBIA currently has a national housing backlog of over 300 000 units, Minister of Economic Planning, Tom Alweendo has said.
Addressing delegates at the Invest in Namibia international conference this week, Alweendo- in view of the investment opportunities characterising Namibia’s housing market- indicated that this backlog is mostly in urban and peri-urban centres.
“Affordability of housing remains a major challenge in the country and the need for innovative construction methods is pivotal,” Alweendo told potential investors who were in attendance.
Housing has been subject to controversy in the recent past and later calmed by a landmark agreement signed by the Government and leaders of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) group in July 2015 paving the way for Government’s pledge to service 200 000 plots countrywide and the subsequent suspension of a planned mass land grab which had been destined for July 31 2015. Earlier this year and in line with the need for adequate investment, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development requested N$1,4 billion for its programme to support housing planning, infrastructure and development.
This programme consisted of the various interventions by the Government aimed at supporting and boosting the development and availability of housing, basic infrastructure and services as well as ensuring proper and sustainable urban and regional planning and development.
According to Urban and Rural Development Minister, Sophia Shaningwa who was quoted early this year, despite known challenges, including resource constraint, the ministry remains steadfast in its resolve to address the backlog in the development and availability of serviced land and affordable housing.
“This includes the delivery of basic services to our people, especially the ultra-low and low income groups,” she said. At the same investment conference, President Hage Geingob also spoke about the challenges faced in the socio-economic sector which also presents opportunities for investors to capitalise on this gap.
“When it comes to socio-economic architecture, Namibia has made significant strides in 26 years. Despite adverse initial conditions, including racial segregation and one the highest income gaps in the world, Namibia has managed to lift half a million people out of poverty. This was achieved through deliberately attuning fiscal policy to be pro-growth and pro-poor. In this connection, the bulk of budgetary allocations have been directed to our education, health and social protection systems.
“We are aware that deficits remain in our socio economic architecture. These include access to decent shelter and sanitation. This presents an opportunity to investors, and we hope that there will be matchmaking between Namibian and international entrepreneurs on these important matters.
“Namibia’s success story has also led to some challenges. Due to rapid economic growth, the economy has expanded by a factor of close to 30 times in nominal terms. This has put some pressure on infrastructure development, including electricity, water and transport. If this critically enabling infrastructure is not up scaled very soon, it will restrain Namibia’s growth outlook. Just to be clear, this is not a Namibia specific challenge, but is something that is experienced by the entire African continent due to rapid economic growth. However, as I stated before, these challenges present enormous opportunity for investors,” he said.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015