Sat, 21 May 2022

NAIROBI, May 12 (Xinhua) -- African policymakers kicked off a three-day conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Thursday with stakeholders seeking solutions to affordable housing and promoting decent housing to spur economic growth in the continent.

The meeting, which brought together more than 500 participants from more than 25 countries in Africa is focusing on the urgent need for sustainable and innovative solutions that don't leave vulnerable groups behind.

In his opening remarks, James Macharia, Kenya's cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure, housing and urban development said that Nairobi is working with the private sector to make affordable housing projects work well, for the benefit of its citizens.

Macharia called for cohesion between the public and private sectors to adopt and implement affordable housing solutions for marginalized communities to enhance the quality of life for humanity.

Organized by Habitat for Humanity in collaboration with partners that include UN-Habitat, the event is part of a global series of regional housing forums where housing experts, policymakers, industry leaders, international non-profit organizations, and other major stakeholders engage collaboratively to promote affordable housing.

Oumar Sylla, Director for Regional Office for Africa at UN-Habitat, said the provision of affordable land and housing at scale remains a challenge to most countries, especially those in Africa.

Sylla said while the continent is the most rural region in the world, it is urbanizing fast, straining affordable urban land and housing provision in the coming decades.

"Scaling up affordable housing provision has the potential to contribute to national economies, create jobs, improve the construction industry, and improve the living conditions for the health and wellbeing of all Africans," he told participants.

The conference comes as Africa grapples with an acute housing shortage sparked by urbanization and population growth, leaving governments to struggle to meet the increasing demand for affordable housing.

According to Habitat for Humanity, many of the 40,000 people moving to African cities every day cannot afford basic formal housing or access mortgage loans.

Maurice Makoloo, Habitat for Humanity's Vice President for Africa said it was critical to recognize housing as a human right, noting that the protection of the human right to housing should always be a priority placed above the use of housing as a commodity.

"We are incredibly grateful for the forum turnout, as it is the stakeholders gathered here this week who, in the months and years ahead, will help address the large gaps in affordable housing in Africa," Makoloo added.

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