Despite efforts by South Africa’s government to supply adequate housing for its citizens, a backlog of between 2.1-million and 2.5-million subsidised houses remained, Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Elias Masilela said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the fourth yearly International Housing Solutions developer conference, in Johannesburg, he said that, while the government had built over three-million subsidised houses since 1994, 12-million people still required adequate housing.
A “massive” jump in demand, urbanisation and decades of degradation of the current housing infrastructure all contributed to the lag in building subsidised houses and made the backlog difficult to eradicate.
Currently, about 12.8% of South African households lived in Reconstruction and Development programme houses, while 13.5% of households had at least one person on the waiting list for subsidised housing.
FinMark Trust housing finance theme coordinator Kecia Rust said that about 60% of the South African population earned less than R3 000 a month and were eligible to apply for subsidised housing.
The Department of Human Settlements aimed to eliminate the backlog by 2030 and has committed R16-billion a year to fund housing projects. The PIC was refining it strategy on affordable housing and has already invested R2.6-billion in, besides others, low-cost housing projects and private equity for housing developments.
However, with an increasing rate of urbanisation, government required partnerships with and the involvement of businesses, individuals and institutions to ensure the delays in delivering adequate housing and related infrastructure were eradicated.
Masilela noted that, over the next 25 years, three-billion people globally would need access to housing and basic infrastructure services. This means that 35.1-million housing units, or 96 156 units a day, would need to be built to meet the demand. Sub-Saharan Africa would need to house about 300-million by 2030.
University of Cape Town Professor Francois Viruly added that, while South Africa’s population would most likely stabilise at about 50-million, urbanisation would remain a challenge. It was expected, for instance, that over the next 30 to 40 years, over 10-million people would migrate to Gauteng, creating a challenge in housing options.
Masilela pointed out that, without proper investment and planning into housing infrastructure, water, electricity and transport systems, South Africa’s development could be stunted and fall further behind other emerging countries. The country would also experience increased developments of squalor and informal settlements.
He also commented that housing infrastructure should be a “springboard” for access to education, employment opportunities, health services and affordable transport, while allowing citizens to contribute to the country’s development.