Of the top 10 countries in Africa with the highest level of homelessness, Nigeria and Egypt are leading with 24.4 million and 12 million people respectively; living without a place they can call home.
The other eight countries are DR Congo, 5,332,000; Somalia, 2,968,000; Sudan, 2,730,000; Ethiopia, 2,693,000; South Sudan, 1,542,000; Cameroon, 1,033,000; Mozambique, 769,000 and Burkina Faso,700,000.
Nigeria, particularly, has a dire housing situation with its homeownership level being as low as 25 percent of its over 200 million population. The country’s housing deficit is estimated variously at 17 million, 20 million, 22 million and 28 million units though the central government once insisted there was no deficit in the country.
Due to the impact of a good number of challenges ranging from high input and energy costs to volatile exchange rates, regulatory issues bordering on long, tortuous and costly property registration processes, and infrastructure challenges, the housing supply is sub-optimal.
According to available statistics, Nigeria’s housing deficit requires 700,000 housing units to be produced annually for the next 20 years to bridge. But currently, the average annual supply by both public and private developers is put at 50,000 units.
In Egypt, the housing problem is considered one of the most urgent problems facing the country’s development programmes. The problem, according to analysts, emanates from high rates of population growth, rise in domestic migration from rural to urban areas, and the concentration of available public funding in the construction of new housing units.
Homelessness in the country is a significant social issue affecting some 12 million people. The country has over 1,200 areas designated for irregular dwellings that do not conform to standard building laws, allowing homeless people to build shacks and other shelters for themselves.
Continent-wide, Business Insider Africa, an online platform with interest in human settlements, notes that many individuals find themselves without a place to call home, living on the streets, in informal settlements, or in overcrowded slums.
The platform notes further that the problem of homelessness knows no barriers and countries all over the world struggle to combat this awful problem. “Africa is no different, as it, too, confronts this troubling predicament.
However, the degree of homelessness in Africa varies from one region to another. In some countries, homelessness is driven by armed conflicts and internal displacement, as people are forced to flee their homes due to violence or socio-political persecution,” it added.
Adekunle Agbetiloye, a researcher at Business Insider Africa, says that besides socio-political problems which are the major cause of homelessness in some parts of Nigeria, urbanisation and rapid population growth contribute to homelessness in major cities like Lagos where the scarcity of affordable housing creates significant challenges.
In Lagos, Nigeria, scarcity of affordable housing for sale or for rent is the reason many residents are homeless. According to the state’s commissioner for housing, Akinderu Fatai-Moruf, over 80 percent of the state’s estimated 22 million population live in rented accommodation.
Though this is a major social problem, according to the commissioner, it also presents a significant opportunity for buy-to-let or build-to-let investors. “The demand for this is high,” he said.
But Agbetiloye noted further that the root cause of homelessness in Africa is multifaceted, listing some of them as economic hardships, unemployment, natural disasters, eviction, social factors, political and legal challenges.