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A summary of the first-ever Africa Housing Forum 2022

A summary of the first-ever Africa Housing Forum 2022

The inaugural Africa Housing Forum was held in May – a three-day hybrid event held from 12 to 14 May in-person and virtually from the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi. 

It was a jam-packed event attended by a number of industry and sector leaders all passionate about tackling some of the key issues Africa is facing around affordable, accessible and sustainable housing. 

The three days were complete with an itinerary of plenaries and tracks which aimed to cover different key themes and topics surrounding inclusivity in the housing sector, affordable housing, challenges and lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic, building sustainable cities and communities, responding to Africa’s growing housing demand pressures, climate change and leveraging multi sector collaboration.

Thursday 12 May: Day 1

The first day of the event kicked off with opening remarks from Maurice Makoloo, Africa Area Vice President for Habitat for Humanity International and an opening performance by Motra Music. 

The opening speech set the scene for the three-day event as Vice President for Habitat for Humanity Maurice Makoloo spoke of the critical need to raise awareness within the Africa region’s affordable housing ecosystem, the right to decent housing and the improvement of living conditions, especially for the vulnerable and marginalized communities.

The first plenary discussion took place where key speakers discussed the topic ‘African Cities’ Pandemic Response – Challenges and Lessons’. We were joined by key speakers to discuss Africa’s response to the different challenges posed by the pandemic and the desire to “build back better, all that was taken away by Covid-19” as said by Debarl Inea, Sapphire Communications.

Two group breakout panels were organised to explore different important topics and issues surrounding housing in Africa under track 1: promoting inclusivity in the housing sector and track 2: supporting affordable housing.

In the afternoon, the second plenary discussion was also held in discussing ‘Contributions of the housing sector to Africa’s growing economies’ and its integral role to growing and strengthening the economy. This point was echoed by Maurice Makoloo, Africa Area Vice President for Habitat for Humanity International who said, “Housing sector is a large contributor for a country’s GDP. It is not anyone’s responsibility but our collective responsibility. It’s you and I to make it happen” 

Friday 13 May 2022: Day 2

To kick off the second day of the forum, pitches for the Innovation Awards took place covering the three categories: Shelter Tech, Best Practices and Public Policies.

Representatives for the 12 shortlisted candidates for each category took part in a pitch to highlight their respective innovative projects. Following the pitch event, voting took place where jury scores and audience votes at the event determined the winner in each category. 

The third plenary discussion of the forum took place. This time, we looked at the topic ‘Responding to Africa’s growing housing demand pressures

The discussion explored the hard-hitting areas of the Africa region and the challenge we are currently facing that need immediate action. Speaking on the current situation in Kenya, it was evident how there is a large shortage in affordable housing for many. In fact, “Kenya has a house deficit of about 2 million houses. Only 2% of the constructed houses target low-income earners,” according to Naphtali Nyabuto, Nyumba Mkononi.

Following the plenary discussions, two breakout sessions were held. In this sessions, different topics centred around housing in Africa under track 3: leveraging multi sector collaboration to achieve affordable housing and track 4: building sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11). 

To wrap up the day, the exciting Innovation Awards Ceremony took place where winners across the three different categories were announced. The three winners ─ EcoAct Tanzania, EarthEnable, and Akiba Mashinani Trust ─ won following the morning’s vote for their inspiring innovations with the ultimate aim to improve the shelter conditions of those who need it the most.

Saturday 14 May 2022: Day 3

In the morning of the forum’s final day, the plenary discussion around  ‘Climate change and housing impact Curated’ by World Green Building Council, Africa Region took place.

The discussion saw several industry leaders come together to talk about this important topic. The discussion reached the important conclusion that “We need climate friendly solutions on housing, Africa needs to take a step on mitigation and adoption of climate change” as said by Dennis Papa Odenyi Quansah – Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria Lead, EDGE Green Building Market Transformation Program, Climate Business Department, International Finance Corporation (climate finance).

Building on this discussion, a breakout session was held focusing on tackling inequalities in access to resilient housing in the region and how policies and urban planning can be used to address these issues. The breakout session addressed the challenges faced by many different communities in the Africa region, from people with disabilities to those in poverty, and the need to “build decent, climate sustainable home for all those who are in dire need of them” (Queen Sekhothali Martha Seeiso Mabhena of the Ndebele Kingdom, South Africa).

To wrap up the event, a closing ceremony was held with a summary and Vote of Thanks from Margaret Mengo, Director of Operations, Habitat for Humanity International, Africa Area Office, and a closing performance by Art of Housing Performance.

To summarise the first-ever Africa Housing Forum, Maurice Makoloo, Vice President Habitat for Humanity, Africa area office, stated, “We must build dignity, hope and communities through housing to incubate dreams and inspire better future.