Kenya: A tour of the counties reveals that most new housing developments are three-bedroom and four-bedroom houses, built with the family unit in mind.

In a country where 80 per cent are under 35 years, where will young adults, who have just started working and require smaller apartments, live? Where will the increasing student population from universities and colleges find housing?

According to James Kaniaru, CEO of Alliance Capital Partners (ACP), a real estate investment firm, market research shows that the reason developers in Kenya have been designing houses targeting families is that they are more financially stable and are the majority of home buyers.

“Families usually have dual salaries, and are often better loan repayers as they would not want to lose their home. However, despite demographic statistics indicating that the median age in Kenya is 19 years, developers are busy building larger houses yet ignoring the bulk of the population - young adults - who need decent houses once they start living on their own,” says Kaniaru.

The Kenya’s Youth Employment Challenge Report, a report by UNDP in 2013, states: “Young people aged between 18 and 34-years-old constitute more than a third of the entire population while nearly 80 per cent of Kenyans are less than 35 years, which represents great economic and social opportunities as well as enormous challenges.”

With a fast growing urban population, the UN estimates that 40 per cent of Kenya’s population will be living in cities and towns by 2040.

According to Samuel Owuor, a geography lecturer at the University of Nairobi, currently, provision of services (and in particular housing) is not in tandem with population growth.

The Knight Frank 2014 Second Quarter Report indicates that developers in the Nairobi prime apartment market are shifting their focus from three and four bedroom apartment to smaller units such as studios, one and two bedroom apartments.

ACP has for the last few years been investing in studio apartments which are self-contained living spaces often used by a single person or a couple. (In the UK they are called bedsitters and as the name suggests, there is space for a bed and a seat).


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