South Africa’s society and economy continues to recover from the decades of apartheid, even though the system was removed 20 years ago. Still high on the list of needs is affordable housing, especially in the urban centers of the country. Approximately three million homes were built and designated for the poor under the administrations of previous presidents, but officials estimate that there is a shortage of at least two million in order to house those who were displaced by earlier settlement policies, population growth and overall urbanization of the country.
KfW Bank, in partnership with donors and working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation has announced a £15M fund to build the first affordable and sustainable housing project in South Africa. Altogether, there will be constructed 25,000 homes designated for South Africa’s lower middle class residents.
Energy efficiency has yet to make its mark here, but all of this is set to change with this new housing project. It could not come at a better time because water and electricity costs make home ownership virtually impossible for many citizens, while the cost of housing in general has left many without any chance of fulfilling the dream of owning a home. Of the 25,000 new homes that will be constructed, 5,000 will incorporate technologies designed to reduce consumption of water and energy. It is estimated that around 182M liters of water will be saved annually, surpassing even the requirements of South Africa’s energy efficiency laws. The green technology houses will be priced similar to the conventional homes in order to keep them attractive to homebuyers. Since green technology is not yet a buzz word among South Africans, a higher price would surely result in less sales. It is hoped that as home buyers experience the good results of their energy efficient new homes, word of mouth will build up the reputation of green technologies as a preferred way to live.
It is not just the affordability and green technology that is bringing good news to South Africa’s working class population. Energy-efficient housing located near to areas of work, schools, shopping and play areas means an improved standard of living and a more positive outlook on life which translates to better physical and emotional health and security.