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Quantifying rental markets in Africa

Rental markets are increasingly capturing the attention of policymakers and investors in rapidly urbanising countries across Africa. Available data indicates that more than 45% of all households rent their dwellings in cities such as Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Dakar and Abidjan. Given the size and growth of the rental sector it simply cannot be regarded as an undesired but necessary segment of the housing market.

Nevertheless, in many cases rental markets remain overlooked, absent from housing policy, and not reflected in any stated housing objectives or targets. In addition, there is often very limited data on rental market activity, with the exception of commercial property or high-end residential market segments.

In 2017, The Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF) commissioned research into quantifying residential rental markets in Africa to address this lack of information. The primary aim of the research was to lay the foundation for improved data and analytics on rental markets going forward. This data in turn should highlight rental market investment opportunities, and thereby generate increased interest by investors in the sector. The research focused on four countries of interest; Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. In each of these countries the team identified, collected and analysed existing data including household survey data generated by national statistical bureaus and indicator data published by the World Bank.

Numerous data gaps were identified through this process. To fill these gaps the team tested various methodologies. One of these techniques involved web scraping an online rental classified website to access data on available rental properties in Dar es Salaam. The chart below shows the number of listed properties by rental price, as well as images of one of the properties within the price bracket, highlighting the ability of property classifieds data to communicate the state of a rental market more holistically than some other data sources.

Scraped data includes information on the location of the property, making it possible to analyse the data at a suburb level, whereas survey data typically only allows for analysis at a city or regional level. Using the data from the Tanzanian classified website, the average rental prices for twelve suburbs is indicated in the chart below for one, two and three bedroom units (minimum and maximum rental price points per area are indicated by the extremes).

For more information on the methodologies tested during this project, read:

Country focus notes summarising the data collected and insights generated can also be downloaded via CAHF’s website, see links below: