Namibian President Hage Geingob distributed 243 newly-built low-cost houses to Namibians in the city of Walvis Bay on October 30. The initiative is part of the president’s goal to give all Namibians access to affordable housing.
Contractors have started constructing 500 more houses as part of a plan to build a total of 900 homes in the area, according to allAfrica.
President Geingob commented on the initiative to New Era, saying, “It is pleasing to note that a single intervention or project such as the mass urban land servicing project is able to address several of our developmental objectives […] What we have seen today here in Walvis Bay must happen in all other towns.”
The project is part of a long-term effort by the Namibian government to address housing shortages in the country. The government identified housing as a priority area in 1990 and still considers improved housing as a path to economic growth and poverty reduction.
According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, the delivery of housing units through the National Housing Enterprise, a state-owned company designed to address the Namibian housing demand, has started to slow. It has never met its target of 1,200 houses per year.
The National Housing Enterprise currently faces a backlog of about 110,000 applicants, which continues to grow. The Enterprises’ waiting list reached 84,940 in mid-2017, as reported by the Center for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa.
According to Afrobarometer, 60 percent of Namibians rate their present living conditions as “good” or “very good.” Additionally, only four percent of Namibians said housing was one of the most important problems facing their country, with a plurality of 41 percent rating unemployment as the highest priority. However, 30 percent of Namibians reported having no toilet and 38 percent reported having no electric connection to their house.