Wednesday, July 15, 2015


A property boom in Ethiopia's capital is putting pressure on homes affordable for some of Africa's poorest people who live in one of its fastest-growing economies. Smart flats and hotels in mirror-glass buildings rise up in areas of Addis Ababa where shacks once stood. A new metro snakes through a city where an emerging middle class is snapping up new homes, but waiting lists for cheap state-built homes grow.

"This house and flat business is booming. If I had enough money, I would buy more," said businessman Seife Tefera, who bought a flat for US$83,000, paid for in two cash instalments. Paying that kind of sum is only possible for a tiny portion of the population of Ethiopia.

"We can't think for a minute that we can afford private housing," said Sergut Adamu, a hotel worker earning the equivalent of US$68 a month. "We would have to win the lottery."

The government has embarked on one of Africa's biggest state housing projects, building about 32,000 units per year since 2006 and creating a national savings scheme that offers subsidised mortgages to the poorest. But that still falls far short of demand. At the end of 2013, the last year for which official figures were available, about 900,000 people were on a waiting list for a flat in Addis Ababa, whose population is set to more than double to 8.1 million by 2040.

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