Koye residential development is the latest in a handful of miniature cities that are gobbling up land all around the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Since launching the integrated housing and development plan (IHDP) in 2006, the Ethiopian government has built condominium estates like these at a pace unrivalled anywhere in Africa. To date, more more than 250,000 subsidised flats have been transferred to their new owner-occupiers in Addis Ababa and smaller towns. Situated 25km south-east of the city centre and covering over 700 hectares of land, Koye will house more than 200,000 people in row upon row of muscular concrete high-rises.
Modelled on the modernist housing estates found across the postwar west, in particular east Germany, Addis Ababa’s condominiums symbolise the vaulting ambition of the Ethiopian government in its efforts to manage the country’s relentless urban growth. But whether they will ever solve its housing problems is uncertain. The population of the capital alone is expected to double to more than 8 million over the next decade. The number of houses needed to meet supply is estimated to be as many as half a million, but nearly a million people languish on the waiting list for a condominium. Nationwide, the urbanisation rate is estimated to be somewhere from 4-6% per year.
As more and more of Ethiopia’s 100 million inhabitants – 80% of whom still live in the countryside – spill into Addis Ababa, strains on the city’s land have intensified. The consequences may be explosive. “Addis Ababa has run out space,” says Felix Heisel, an urban expert at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. Though the state theoretically owns all land, seizing it from farmers like Haile can cause problems. The “masterplan” – shelved last year – to develop farmland belonging to Oromia, the region that surrounds the capital, was the catalyst for widespread anti-government protests that led to the declaration of a nine-month state of emergency. Expanding the city is for now out of the question. […] CONTINUE READING