Ethiopia: Africa's Diplomatic Capital Striving to Offer Home for Its Residents

(File photo).

Nowadays, Ethiopia's population has surpassed more than 100 million mark. This number makes the nation as the second populous country in Africa. Most of the people live in rural areas and they lead their livelihood on agriculture. However, the people who live in urban centers are increasing from time to time. Due to overpopulation in urban areas, many problems have been putting the life of city dwellers.

Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, headquarters of African union and seat of other continental and international organizations has been facing housing shortage. According to Addis Ababa City Administration's 2016 report, the city's population has reached 4 million. Since it consists 60 percent GDP of the nation, many people from various parts of the country are flowing into it for education, employment and other reasons. Hence, the vivacious city is facing a sever housing shortage which has been affecting the livelihood of primarily low income residents. As a result millions of citizens have become victims of inflated home rents and related problems.

Abject poverty and housing problem are interrelated and this is what is happening in the capital Addis Ababa, according to Mekonen Wube, Urban Planner at Addis Ababa Housing Project. He told the Ethiopian Herald that unemployment, income disparity and poverty are the major factors which have been aggravating housing shortage in the capital.

"About 70 percent of the population in Addis Ababa lives in very impoverished slums with no proper sanitation and hygiene. More than 30 percent of the homes are single room units and 15 percent of them have no private or shared toilets. Besides, the Kebele homes which have been distributed for poor residents aren't well furnished and couldn't inhabit larger families," he said, adding, "So if we understood that poverty and housing problem are interrelated, reducing poverty will be a solution. Realizing this, the government has been striving to reduce poverty so as to enhance the purchasing power of the people. Not only this, the government is building condominium homes for low income societies."

The Addis Ababa City admi nistration has proposed a plan of building condo homes in 2005 to alleviate sever housing shortage being noticed in the city. Since then 180,000 homes were transferred to their beneficiaries. However, as the population is increasing at an alarming pace, the homes which were built so far have not fulfilled the demand of the people. Still many people have been waiting for home in a very desperate manner.

On the other hand, the government has persisted on registering residents for condos aiming to develop the saving culture of the people. Therefore, the government has registered 900,000 people in 2015 in 10/90, 20/80 and 40/60 packages. But the plan is not going efficiently. The 10/90 package was designed for low income society, 20/80 for government employees and 40/60 high income and the Diaspora community.

How are the construction sites progressing? According to him, Akaki Kality, Bole Arabsa and Bole Ayat sites are going well despite challenges. The Akaki Kality condominium project which is being undertaking in Koye Feche site covers 960 hectare of land. Generally, 50,110 homes will be built there in 20/80 package. The construction has reached more than 80 percent completions. The Bole Arabsa and Bole Ayat sites on the other hand have reached 93 and 82 percent respectively.

However, foreign currency shortages, contractors' inability, lack of follow up and mismanagement have forced the construction to screech to a halt.

"Foreign currency shortage has been hampering the construction sector especially the construction of condominium homes. The government couldn't finish the already started housing sites in Addis Ababa and as a result hundreds of thousands of residents were frustrated," he pointed out. Another reason of the inefficiency of constructing more homes is the contractor's inability to finish on time and mismanagement of the budget being allocated. He reaffirmed that corruption and mismanagement of resources has halted many condominium home constructions and the government should set up accountability mechanisms to combat such malpractices.

"Corruption and wasteful utilization of resource are affecting the nation's economy. The construction sector was not undertaken in a transparent way. Such practices should be corrected and legal frameworks should be designed to stop it," he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the government is determined to make Ethiopians especially urban dwellers like Addis home owners. It is striving to provide homes for its citizens in affordable price. As part of its commitment, it has planned to build more than 750,000 additional condominium homes in the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II). But the plan is unlikely to be materialized due to the aforementioned factors. Upon solving the challenges, Addis would provide modern homes equipped with modern facilities for its residents. Thus, it will be vibrant, suitable and affordable city of Africa.

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