REPORT ON THE SPECIAL MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE OF THE
AFRICAN MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON HOUSING AND
3 – 4 April 2006
Purpose and outline of the report
This report provides an overview of the proceedings of the Special Ministerial Conference of
AMCHUD. The Special Ministerial Conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 3 to 4 April
2006. Its theme was „ACHIEVING THE MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS IN
AFRICA: STRATEGIES FOR THE REALISATION OF THE WORLD SUMMIT
COMMITMENTS ON SLUMS’.
1.1 After its formation in Durban the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban
Development (AMCHUD) actively campaigned at international fora for slum prevention and
slum upgrading to be at the top of the international agenda. The United Nations World Summit
in New York in September 2005 eventually adopted resolution 56 (m) that read that:
In pursuance of our commitment to achieve sustainable development,
we further resolve:
To achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million
slum-dwellers by 2020, recognizing the urgent need or the provision of
increased resources for affordable housing and housing-related
infrastructure, prioritizing slum prevention and slum upgrading, and to
encourage support for the United Nations Habitat and Human
Settlements Foundation and its Slum Upgrading Facility.
1.2 After the World Summit AMCHUD convened, from 3 – 4 April, in Nairobi, a Special
Ministerial Conference (hereafter Conference) under the theme “Achieving the Millennium
Development Goals in Africa: Strategies for the realization of the World Summit commitments
on slums”. The Conference was held at the headquarters of the United Nations Human
Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). Its aim: to develop a common framework for slum
upgrading and prevention as a means of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to
consider ways to improve policy formulation to address the housing and urban management
challenge in Africa.
1.3 The Conference was hosted by the Government of Kenya with the support of UN-HABITAT.
It was attended by over 30 Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Ambassadors, Senior Officials mostly
in the form of Permanent Representatives and experts in housing. Representatives from the
Government of China were present including members of the United Nations Economic
Commission for Africa (UNECA) who attended as observers. A complete list of participants is
given in annexure I.
2. Opening session
2.1 As Chair of AMCHUD and Minister of Housing of South Africa, Dr. Lindiwe Sisulu, opened
2.2 The Vice-President of Kenya, Mr. Moody Awori, delivered a keynote address on behalf of Mr.
Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya, wherein he welcomed the representatives to Kenya. He
thanked those whose efforts had led to the establishment of AMCHUD as a forum for
discussion and advocacy on housing and urban development issues in Africa. He indicated that
among the greatest challenges facing developing countries were rapid urbanization and
increasing poverty, which strained the management capacities of Governments to meet the
pressing needs of urban development, particularly those related to housing and the provision of
basic services. Good governance and decentralized decision-making were needed to address the
challenges presented by slums in Africa. Mr. Awori, highlighted the urgency and the
importance of combating new slum formations in cities across Africa. He cautioned that
without significant improvements in the capacities of local governments and the private sector
to provide services for new residents of towns and cities problems related to current slum and
squatter settlements will pale by comparison.
2.3 To meet the challenges within Kenya, he indicated that the Government had, in cooperation with UN-Habitat, inaugurated the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme, aimed at providing shelter, water, education and income-generating opportunities for urban slum populations such as those at Kibera in Nairobi. He said a strategy for sustainable urban development depended on strengthening the capacity of local government to provide basic services; including the private sector and local communities in urban management initiatives; and expanded use of underused resources, including locally available technologies and natural resources. In Kenya, for example, the Government was establishing provincial centres to provide information on low-cost, locally available building materials and promote labour-intensive building techniques. He hoped that the conference would identify African solutions to the challenges of housing and urban development in the continent.
2.4 In a statement of support, Mr. Wang Guangtao, Minister of Construction from the People‟s
Republic of China, outlined some of the approaches adopted by his country to overcome the challenges of urbanization. China, he said, had endured serious housing shortages during the past 20 years but those had been largely overcome through the implementation of various reforms, which had led to an increase in quantity and improvements in quality of housing available to both urban and rural dwellers. Innovative approaches to addressing the needs of medium- and low-income families included a provident fund system for housing, funded through contributions from employers and employees; the provision of affordable accommodation to households whose income fell below a certain threshold; the establishment of a low-rent housing system targeted at poor families, largely funded through local government channels; the introduction of tax incentives to guide the decisions of both property owners and developers; the redevelopment of dilapidated housing, with the costs often shared between private occupants and the local government; and the use of funds from rural collectives to finance the construction of accommodation for rural migrants to cities.
2.5 Mr. Wang affirmed that, in general, the Government‟s actions aimed to meet the needs of
ordinary households. Market mechanisms had been allowed to play a role in the distribution of housing resources but government intervention was also needed to stabilize prices and guide citizens‟ consumption choices. Rural housing problems were also being addressed through the provision of technical assistance and village planning and as a result the living environment in rural areas had improved markedly. He concluded by affirming China‟s determination to use the present meeting to strengthen further its relationship with international agencies such as UN-Habitat and the African continent.
2.6 Ms. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-Habitat opened her address by paying tribute to those who had contributed to the establishment of AMCHUD. She recalled that in September 2005 world leaders had reaffirmed their commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Although only one of those goals referred expressly to urban poverty, it was evident that action to mitigate the effects of rapid urbanization would have a strong influence on the achievement of other goals. Africa was undergoing the fastest rate of urbanization in the world and the process could not be reversed. Chaotic urban growth, including the expansion of slums, meant that the process of urbanization was not serving as an engine for development but instead created centres of crime, poverty and insecurity, in which women and children suffered most. Promising efforts to alleviate the situation had been made in a number of African countries. South Africa, in particular, had demonstrated the housing and infrastructure improvements that could be achieved where there was sufficient political will. It was vital that African Governments ensured that urbanization issues were given high priority in policy formation both at central and local levels, as sustainable development depended on sustainable urbanization.
2.7 Ms. Tibaijuka discussed the role of the UN-Habitat Slum Upgrading Facility in promoting affordable housing for low-income households and noted that those living in slums were often keen to invest their limited savings to improve their dwellings. However, without security of tenure, they were deterred from doing so. Improved governance and capacity-building were required to address that issue and there was a particular need for local governments to engage with communities to establish clear and enforceable property rights. The existing situation, in which Governments sometimes knowingly permitted the construction of dwellings and then demanded their removal not only destroyed the investments but also breached human rights. AMCHUD should contribute to the development of thriving, inclusive cities by drafting concrete proposals followed up with adequate implementation.
2.8 Mr. Modibo Traore, Director, Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources of the African Union (AU), delivered an address on behalf of Adv. Bience Gawanas, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the AU. He outlined the AU‟s involvement in the work of AMCHUD. Sustainable
development of cities and towns was an important priority for the African Union, he said. Rapid urbanization had not been matched by a parallel growth of housing infrastructure and other facilities, resulting in slums and an associated increase in poverty, disease, crime, exclusion and powerlessness. In such circumstances, women and children were particularly vulnerable. The African Union Commission was keen to play a role in establishing sustainable development programmes and addressing slum problems in Africa.
2.9 Mr. Soita Shitanda, in his opening statement, said that the gathering of so many Ministers and other representatives from over 40 African States demonstrated the commitment of Africa to the issue of the slums that had invaded the cities of the continent. Some 72 per cent of the urban population of Africa lived in slums, compared to a world average of 32 per cent; unless significant interventions took place, the continent‟s urban slum population was estimated to double every 15 years. Since slums were often characterized by poverty, dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate sanitation, crime and homelessness, many cities were becoming increasingly dysfunctional and unmanageable. He affirmed that the financial, technical, cultural and human resources were available in Africa to upgrade slums and provide security for slum dwellers. There was, however, he noted, a need for recognition of the interdependence of urban and rural areas, which had often been viewed as mutually exclusive spheres but needed to be linked components of a holistic approach to development that included consideration of health, education, gender and other issues. Measures were required to bring sufficient economic growth to rural areas to discourage the rural-urban migration that was putting such a strain on the physical infrastructure of cities.
3. Organizational matters
3.1. Election of officers
3.1.1 Regional representatives elected at the founding session were confirmed as members of the Bureau for the Conference. These were:
Chair: South Africa
First Vice-Chair: Senegal
Second Vice-Chair: Algeria
Third Vice-Chair: Chad
3.1.2 Adoption of programme of work
188.8.131.52 The plenary of the Conference adopted its programme of work, which was organized as
follows (annexure II):
(i) Opening of the session including opening statements:
(ii) Organizational matters:
Election of officers
Adoption of programme of work
(iii) Organization of work:
Developing strategies for sustainable urbanization in Africa
Regional and country perspectives
Report of expert group
(vi) Progress and future direction of AMCHUD:
Report on activities since February 2005
Draft business plan
(v) Relationship between AMCHUD and the African Union
(vi) The Biennial Ministerial Conference
(vii) Launch of the AMCHUD website
(viii) Other matters
Organization of work
184.108.40.206 The plenary decided that after dealing with introductory matters the Conference would split
into a Ministerial Plenary, which would consider the main body of the programme of work,
and an Expert Group Meeting, which would consider item 220.127.116.11 (iii) of the programme of
work and produce a framework memorandum. The full session would thereafter reconvene
to synthesize the conclusions and decisions of the Ministerial Plenary and the Expert
Group Meeting on the item 18.104.22.168 (iii).
4. Developing strategies for sustainable urbanization in Africa
4.1 Regional and country perspectives
4.1.1 The Ministerial Plenary, at its first meeting on the afternoon of Monday, 3 April 2006,
commenced with the consideration of the challenges relating to sustainable urbanization in
Africa and the strategies that might be developed in response.
4.1.2 The main themes considered were governance; the legal and policy framework for strategic
urban planning and development; tenure, land use planning and land administration; financing
sustainable urban development; access to housing and urban infrastructure services; and
community empowerment and local economic development. On the topics representatives
from Algeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Chad, Mauritius, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa made
presentations on regional and country perspectives.
4.1.3 The representative of Algeria delivered a presentation on local development in Algeria. He indicated that it was important for African countries to reform and strengthen their economies in order to boost growth and fight poverty. In Algeria one of the key pillars for achieving those aims, and for reducing regional disparities, was local development using a decentralized management approach. The strategy was based on decentralization to the municipal and county levels using various administrative tools, for example the Municipal Development Plan and the Sectoral Development Plan. Those plans were supported by central government resources and gave municipalities and counties the power to mobilize local resources and set up projects related to various areas, including agriculture, roads, water and health. Among the benefits of those programmes was a reduction in the housing shortage and construction of a range of dwellings suitable to different income groups. Financial mechanisms had been set up to assist house building and purchase. Finally, a key component of the strategy was the provision of financial aid to support rural development, thereby reducing rural-urban drift.
4.1.4 The representative of Cameroon highlighted that in response to an increasing housing crisis, Cameroon had moved from a voluntary housing and urban development policy to a more proactive strategy for urban development. The three focal areas of that strategy included a reorganization of urban planning, delivery of basic services and support for urban development with financing and other resources. Policy decentralization had been recent and gradual. The Government had adopted a contractual approach to the crisis in housing and urban infrastructure, with three city contracts signed to date. With international assistance, many local authorities had been trained and poverty reduction programmes had been implemented in a number of urban centres. Four key indicators had been identified to measure access to land, management of land, financing of housing and construction of housing.
4.1.5 The representative of Senegal discussed the legal and policy frameworks for land use in the country. The Government of Senegal had earmarked some land tracts for cooperative usage, including affordable housing, roads and transportation, and other urban infrastructure. Temporary private use of that land was allowed, subject to payment of user fees to the Government, which reserved the right to repossess the land for public use. The Government had also put in place policies to promote housing for all. Other policies addressed dynamic exchanges between rural and urban areas to identify needs for social infrastructure and services, such as town markets and road networks that would promote renewal of both urban areas and counties. Cooperative organizations and the private sector had also contributed to housing development in partnership with civil society.
4.1.6 The representative of Chad, taking capacity-building and development in Central Africa as his theme, spoke of the need to develop capacity in the region in order to ensure sustainable human development. The region faced a large number of challenges, for example environmental threats, the weakness of institutions in both the public and private sectors, rapid urbanization and weak governance systems. In addition, armed conflicts had destabilized the region and hindered progress. Capacity-building was necessary to increase the productivity of the workforce and promote economic growth. There was a need to strengthen government actors at both central and local levels. Strategies, objectives and priority areas needed to be clearly defined. Development was not possible in isolation but required sub-regional, North-South, and South-South cooperation. In conclusion, he stressed the need for an integrated approach, linking capacity-building to such other areas as health (particularly HIV-AIDS), education, gender issues and the empowerment of women, and reduction of corruption.
4.1.7 The representative of Mauritius discussed his country‟s experience in providing housing for the
poor. Although there had been little development of slums in its urban areas, Mauritius was experiencing an increasing problem of squatting on publicly owned lands, to which the
Government had responded by regularizing such instances or relocating those families. Government programmes to support housing for low- and middle-income families included small grants for roof casting, concessionary housing loans, concessionary leases on publicly owned lands and construction of subsidized, low-cost housing. Those efforts had achieved moderate success, though unmet demand for low-cost housing continued in some areas of the country. Mauritius‟ housing strategy also relied on public-private partnerships, in which the
Government provided incentives and basic amenities and the private sector contributed experience and capital.
4.1.8 The representative of Nigeria indicated that the country was the most populous in Africa and was experiencing rapid urbanization. The National Economic Empowerment and
Development Strategy was an important tool in addressing such challenges and working towards attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The funds freed by the recent decision of the Paris Club of sovereign creditors to cancel Nigerian debts, in addition to other debt relief and debt swap measures, could provide a valuable source of funding for urban improvement. A new national urban policy and a federal land information service had been established to improve the regulatory basis for property ownership. Recent agreements with the private sector might also boost construction, though such developers often focused on building for those in high-income brackets. It would be vital to identify long-term financial support mechanisms to underpin the work of AMCHUD. Exchange of expertise between African States would also be important, as well as monitoring strategies such as peer review. Finally, he observed that it was necessary to ensure that UN-Habitat was provided with adequate funding to fulfil its mandate.
4.1.9 The representative of Kenya mentioned that the Government had established a national housing policy, which prioritized the creation of partnerships between the Government and the private sector. In its attempts to implement the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme the Government had faced various challenges, including opposition from landlords currently renting out slum property, and the cost of building materials, which were taxed at the same rate as other products. Efforts should be made to persuade Governments to reduce or waive such taxes. To facilitate house building the Government was seeking to simplify the procedure for securing the licences needed to build a property, reducing the time required from up to a year to less than a month. Another recent innovation was the civil servants housing scheme, which provided for the sale of public properties to civil servants; funds accrued from such sales were being used to finance the construction of new houses for sale or subsidized rental to civil servants. Other efforts to involve the private sector in property construction had met with mixed success, since much of the development was targeted at middle- and upper-income groups; introduction of tax incentives might help overcome that difficulty. He concluded by expressing his interest in learning more about China‟s experience in managing urbanization and proposed that AMCHUD consider sending a delegation to the country.
4.1.10 The representative of South Africa observed that the AMCHUD process aimed to coordinate the African response to the challenges of human settlement development, which was closely linked to African countries‟ ability to respond to the challenges of globalization. In South Africa human development was a priority, and various policies had been developed that aimed to improve the well-being of the poor. The Government had sought to steer the market and private sector to finance housing development through such measures as the provision of subsidies. In addition, the Ministry of Housing had managed to secure a more than twofold increase in public spending in the housing sector between 2001 and 2008. South Africa had learnt from experience the importance of developing innovative policies aimed at generating public and private sector financing. It was also clear that the Government‟s substantial
financing commitments had provided a solid background to mobilization of support from
other social partners and the improvement of local development plans was also important. To
achieve any of those goals, it was necessary to ensure extensive community participation.
5. Ministerial discussions
5.1 The Ministerial Plenary proceeded to discuss the issues raised in the presentations of regional
and country perspectives on housing and urban development in Africa. On the basis of those
discussions, a summary of the core themes for consideration in the development of future
strategies and programmes of work was compiled and adopted by the session at its final plenary
meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday, 4 April. It was intended that the summary (see annexure
III) would be consolidated into the final outcomes of deliberations of the Expert Group
Meeting. The two would then constitute a single policy statement.
6. Report from the Expert Group Meeting
6.1 The expert group, reporting back to the reconvened full session on the afternoon of Tuesday,
4 April 2006, presented a Draft Framework Memorandum for the Mobilization of
(annexure VI). Governments on Slum Prevention and Upgrading
6.2 During the ensuing discussion, several representatives expressed concern over certain aspects
of the draft text. In view of the time limitations, it was agreed that finalization of the text and
its integration with the output of the Ministerial Plenary would be undertaken after the
conclusion of the session. The Bureau would be responsible for carrying out those tasks and
for disseminating the consolidated policy statement.
7. Progress and future direction of AMCHUD
7.1 Report on activities since February 2005
7.1.1 The Chair, Dr. Lindiwe Sisulu, presented her report on the progress of AMCHUD since its
first meeting in February 2005 to the Second Ministerial Plenary meeting on the morning of
Tuesday, 4 April 2006. She recalled that AMCHUD had been founded as a forum for
consultations among African ministers regarding sustainable development of human
settlements. Its structural organization included a Biennial Ministerial Conference, a Bureau of
national representatives from the five sub-regions of Africa, and a Secretariat to provide
technical and administrative support. The Bureau was entrusted with formulating a common
African position on issues of relevance to its mission and with communicating with
Governments and regional, international and United Nations bodies regarding AMCHUD and
its activities and decisions.
7.1.2 In its first year of operation, the Bureau had met thrice and in the process established the
Executive Secretariat, developed a draft Constitution and Business Plan for AMCHUD
including the organization‟s web site. Other activities had included monitoring and participating
in international forums relevant to the mission of AMCHUD and obtaining institutional
recognition and expressions of support for AMCHUD from both the AU and UN-HABITAT.
7.1.3 Following the Chair‟s report, the Rapporteur read out the Declaration on the Establishment of
the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development, adopted at the
founding session of AMCHUD held in Durban, South Africa, from 31 January to 2 February
8. Draft Business Plan
8.1 In his presentation of the AMCHUD draft Business Plan during the third Ministerial Plenary
meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday, 4 April 2006, the Rapporteur drew particular attention to
the programme of action 2005–2007 and the budgetary requirements to carry out the planned
tasks. The Chair noted that one activity listed in the programme of action was the development
of a checklist of countries that had produced cabinet memorandums. He indicated that the
activity was of great importance for the mobilization of funding for housing and urban
development and that the Executive Secretariat was ready to help any member who might need
assistance in drafting their document. The session took note and approved the draft Business
8.2 The Chair stressed that for AMCHUD to function effectively it needed to raise sufficient funds
to guarantee its liquidity and self-sufficiency, and asked for pledges from member States.
Following discussions the establishment of a Trust Fund was suggested as a promising way
forward. The Plenary further agreed that the Bureau should consider the matter and base the
criteria for contributions on an assessment of each member countries economic status.
9. Relationship between AMCHUD and the African Union
9.1 The meeting discussed, at its second Ministerial Plenary on the morning of Tuesday,
4 April 2006, the future status of AMCHUD in relation to the African Union. It was recalled
that following its creation in 2005, AMCHUD had sought recognition from both UN-
HABITAT and the AU as an independent organisation. UN-HABITAT had responded with a
resolution that recognised and has supported AMCHUD. The AU too passed a Decision
recognising AMCHUD and expressing its willingness to recognize and support AMCHUD as a
consultative mechanism operating under its auspices.
9.2 Several representatives expressed concern that unanticipated constraints on the flexibility and
effectiveness of AMCHUD could arise if it were brought under the governance of the AU.
With that in mind, the meeting agreed that the AMCHUD Bureau would continue discussions
with the AU to establish a relationship that preserved the flexibility and independence of
AMCHUD. The AMCHUD Bureau would convey the message that AMCHUD was respectful
and grateful for the AU‟s patronage but that it needed some space to achieve its goals.
10. The Biennial Ministerial Conference
10.1 At the third Ministerial Plenary meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday, 4 April 2006, two related
matters were discussed: the next chair of AMCHUD, to preside over the biennial period
commencing in 2007; and the location and scheduling of the next biennial meeting in 2007.
Introducing the discussion, the Chair recalled that the inaugural meeting of AMCHUD had
agreed that the Chair would have tenure of two years; that the country serving as Chair would
also host the Biennial Ministerial Conference; and that meetings of AMCHUD would be
scheduled in tandem with the meetings of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT, whenever
possible. Mauritius and Nigeria submitted bids to serve as the next Chair. The representatives
of other States withdrew from the ensuing discussion, during which a consensus emerged in
favour of Nigeria. Nigeria was duly elected as the next Chair of AMCHUD, to take up that post
at the Biennial Ministerial Conference, which it would host.
11. Launch of the AMCHUD website
11.1 At the third Ministerial Plenary meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday, 4 April 2006, a visual
presentation was given of the new AMCHUD website. The website had been developed by the
Executive Secretariat and was currently hosted by the South Africa Department of Housing. 10