Special Report – Student Housing in Africa

Dire shortage of student housing needs smarter solutions

The massive growth in student numbers has exacerbated a dire shortage of quality, affordable student housing in Africa. It has become one of the major challenges facing the higher education sector on the continent. The crisis is affecting the academic success of students who have shared their experiences with University World News. Apart from a few plans and public-private partnerships, governments and institutions appear to lack the appetite to act.
Current Realities
The shortage of quality and affordable housing units to accommodate university students has become one of the major challenges facing the higher education sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to Adamou Labara, the International Finance Corporation’s country manager in South Africa.
PHOTO The private sector in Rwanda can tap into the opportunities and invest in student housing, but progress is slow as it is not seen as a viable business compared to other opportunities. In the meantime, thousands of students battle to find affordable accommodation.
PHOTO The demand for affordable student accommodation in Cameroon’s higher education system far outweighs the supply, a reality that has highlighted that the government and university authorities have to tackle infrastructure development, including housing projects that have already been approved, with greater urgency.
Plans and Projects
A plan that has been put forward to address the student housing crisis in Nigeria is a build, operate and transfer, or BOT, arrangement. According to the proposal, private developers will build hostels and operate them for several years before transferring ownership to the universities.
Sustainable Buildings
Universities are strategically placed to drive sustainability issues through the evolution of green campuses and the adoption of environmentally smart built environment practices. Despite challenges, some institutions have been recognised for their efforts.
PHOTO Student housing at universities does not just accommodate students. It plays a multifunctional role, such as providing privacy, security and flexibility for learners. Due to the impact of climate change, providing housing that is also sustainable has become an urgent and critical matter for higher education institutions.
PHOTO The increase in African urbanisation and shortage of campus accommodation due to the growth of the student population are making the adoption of green building practices an environmentally friendly and sustainable path to resilient, affordable housing, several studies and reports have shown.
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