Government is pushing for the construction of additional railway lines between Grootfontein and Livingstone and from Keetmanshoop to the Northern Cape. This was revealed by Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus !Naruseb, when he delivered a presentation on transport and logistics sector expansion this week. The mooted railways would span a combined 2 250 kilometres and will need financial investment of over N$15 billion. He said there is a need to optimise Namibia’s unique location by establishing new trade routes to link Namibia with rest of the SADC region. The minister further spoke of a logistics masterplan which, according to him, provides a future image of Namibia as a logistics hub.
Urban and Rural Minister Sophia Shaningwa appealed to investors and financiers to see the housing backlog as an opportunity for them to invest and make a difference for themselves and the country. This comes after economic planning minister Tom Alweendo revealed that currently the national housing backlog stands at 300 000. “The backlog highlights that there is room and an urgent need for additional or new innovative housing financing instruments and delivery capacities at the level of financial institutions and construction industry,” she said. Local commercial banks have often been criticised for contributing to the precarious housing provision environment in the country. In fact, the Africa Housing Finance Yearbook 2016 states that Namibian commercial banks are over-exposed to mortgages and there is a need and an opportunity to introduce new or additional financing instruments such as through securitisation, which will increase the number of investment instruments and deepen the financial sector. Limited housing financing facilities, especially for the low- to middle-income groups has also been a buffer in recent years.
According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 Report, about 74 percent of Namibian households do not have access to conventional home loan facilities that are offered by the financial market as access to such credit facilities remains difficult to the majority. Although local authorities have been selling and continue to sell land to private property developers, who have built various types of housing units, the move has not yielded the desired results because such properties are often unaffordable. “The scarcity of available serviced land is both pushing up the prices of serviced land and also slowing down the process of housing delivery, and is perceived to be the key challenge facing the housing sector,” lamented Shaningwa.