Namibia: City of Windhoek Approves Affordable Housing Concept

Windhoek — The City of Windhoek has for the first time approved an Affordable Housing Concept where it intends to build houses, most of which will be below N$1 million. This was confirmed at a media briefing last week by City of Windhoek Chief Executive Officer Robert Kahimise.

"We have fenced-off land in the informal areas, to curb further proliferation of illegal land grabbing and invasions. This land will be used for the afore-mentioned project," said Kahimise.

Last year, Namibia's housing backlog was estimated at 120 000 houses and this figure continues to grow annually. The escalating housing backlog is mostly due to the unaffordability of houses which is exacerbated by a discrepancy in the demand and supply of decent housing. While government has attempted to rectify the slow pace of serviced land and affordable housing, such as through the N$45 billion Mass Housing Project, the implementation and execution of this and similar programmes has done little to alleviate the plight for inexpensive housing in the country.

Even the private sector has entered the affordable housing arena, through companies such as Bank Windhoek who have announced financing of alternative housing solutions like PolyCare houses. According to Bank Windhoek, it opted to finance potential buyers of PolyCare Houses in response to government's efforts to alleviate the housing shortage and reduce the housing backlog. PolyCare houses, which are estimated to cost between N$250 000 and N$350 000, are aimed at medium to low-income individuals or families, who are unable to afford conventional housing at current market prices and interest rates. Meanwhile, also at last week's media briefing, Kahimise noted that within the first three months of his arrival the City of Windhoek, he signed-off the Council approved unsolicited Public Private Partnership's (PPP's) Agreements on land and housing delivery.

"This was the last batch of unsolicited land allocations as we have seen that this method was mostly exploited by City officials and their allies to their own benefit. Council stopped this loophole and no further unsolicited PPPs are being considered except for special projects on un-serviced land. City land is mostly offered through public tender except for institutional land and applications from GRN, SOEs, SDFN, Community organised groups and special projects applications including over the counter applications for vulnerable groups. Another loophole highly exploited is through 'Private treaties' as this process is where most of the dubious land dealings occurred. In all these efforts, my only intent remains to try and protect the City's image and create a levelled playing field to all residents when it comes to access to land," said Kahimise.

The City of Windhoek CEO continued that since land delivery PPPs were stopped, the City has made available pockets of land and opened them up to the public through avenues such as tender, Offer to Purchase, government land allocations and youth land allocations.

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