During the Business Breakfast discussing economic benefits of affordable housing and solutions to the housing shortfall two speakers gave presentations and engaged in a Q&A session with the audience.
Mr. Namene Kalili, the Senior Manager for Research & Development at First National Bank (FNB), spoke on the economic background of the current shortfall of housing. Mr. John Mendelsohn, the Director of Research and Information Services of Namibia (RAISON) addressed the housing issue from a socio-economic perspective and linked it to the eradication of poverty in Namibia, as being vital for increasing capital assets and financial security.
Additionally, Mr. Namene Kalili provided insights on recent developments regarding the housing market in Namibia and the dynamics of demand and supply. He stated that 200-300 houses were expected to be completed and given out every year in Windhoek, but in reality only 10-20 houses were given out last year and merely 6 houses were given out last month in Windhoek.
According to (FNB)’s Housing Price Index, housing prices in Namibia have doubled between 2009 and 2014. This increase has been caused by several factors, but is primarily due to the demand for housing increasing faster than the supply of new houses to the market. The main problem is that there is a lack of Government funding for low income households. This has been planned for the past five years but was never successfully introduced. The government recently announced plans to service 200,000 plots for land, known as massive Urban Land Servicing project. Although not without its challenges, the provision of affordable housing would generate raft of economic benefits, through increasing home ownership.
Furthermore, Mr. John Mendelson, the director of research and information of services (RAISON) addressed the question on why so many Namibians are poor. He stated that all Namibians have similar aspirations for themselves and their children. Every family needs a stream of revenue and capital security. Mr Mendelson also noted that in Namibia the poor people will remain poor because they do not have access to land. People lack opportunities to invest which enables them to have decent lives and that is why many Namibians are poor.
As a potential way forward it was discussed that Local Authorities should be motivated to finance more land. More effective building projects must be launched and this should include housing schemes, which incorporate alternative building technology.