Altair International – Year in Review 2023-24

Posted: 11th April 2024 Patrick Goldie, Junior Consultant

A recent report to the UN General Assembly, warned that 1.6 billion people currently lack the financial means to access safe, secure, and habitable housing. If the situation doesn’t change, this number could almost double to 3 billion by the end of the decade.[1]

Statistics of such staggering magnitude can be hard to imagine. Put more simply, in 2024, 1 in 5 people are already stuck in homes which are too cold, too hot, too crowded, too dirty, too leaky, too unsafe, too insecure, too far from their place of work or education, too far from family and friends, too fragile to cope with a rapidly changing natural environment, or simply too expensive to rent, buy, or maintain without sacrificing food, comfort, or another basic need.

For professionals and stakeholders in the housing sector, these problems will be wearingly familiar. Furthermore, trends and events of the past twelve months have made the already complex housing crisis even trickier to tackle, including rapid urbanisation, economic stagnation and high inflation (“stagflation”), devastating wars in Sudan, Ukraine, and Gaza, and a worsening climate crisis.

At Altair International, our work brings us face-to-face with the housing crisis in all its variations.

This year has seen the team undertake ambitious projects across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with each challenge requiring a mix of expertise, experience, and innovation to tackle.

We have continued to build on our strong track record in Rwanda. Our most complex project here saw the team conduct a detailed feasibility study into the provision of student accommodation across eight state-run technical colleges. This study, delivered on behalf of Agence Française de Développement was comprehensive, spanning issues such as quality of life and gender equity for resident students, the environmental sustainability of the accommodation’s construction, and an institutional review of their management structure. Our final report outlines how to implement a planned €25 million upgrade and expansion of these facilities.

Other work undertaken in Rwanda this year includes:

  • For Enabel, the Belgian Development Agency, we prepared a high-level review of the housing needs of two fledgling satellite cities outside of Kigali. We then provided policy recommendations – covering a mixture of financial engineering, volume build and access to debt – which will double the proportion of households able to access affordable housing in these cities.
  • Skat, the Swiss Development Agency, tasked 71point4 and Altair International with supporting in the development of an industrial park for producing sustainable building materials. Our role has been focussed on business planning, financial modelling, and environmental impact assessment. This project will help to localise and modernise the supply chain, while reducing carbon emissions.

2023/24 has also taken us back to another familiar location, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kenya. In the former, the Islamic Development Bank and the Affordable Housing Institute assigned Altair to conduct both an institutional review of the State Mortgage Company’s management structure and technical capacity, and a feasibility study into the planned development of 3,000 homes across the country. Meanwhile, in Kenya, we were appointed by the World Bank to undertake comprehensive study of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) market, with a view to dramatically increasing investment into affordable housing.

This year also saw the team familiarise themselves with new locations, such as the Dominican Republic.

On behalf of the Inter-American Development Bank and the national Ministry for Tourism, we advised on the development of a new rental housing strategy.  A full case study can be found here.

In Tanzania, Habitat for Humanity and the Tanzania Mortgage Refinance Company, assigned Altair to assess the potential demand for housing microfinance. If designed appropriately, housing microfinance products – small, unsecured loans at subsidised interest rates – can be a useful means of enabling low- and middle-income homeowners to expand and improve the quality of their home.  In November, we publicly presented our findings at a market dissemination event held in Dar-es-Salaam.  Details are available here.

We also assisted a UK university to undertake feasibility studies to set up a campus in Accra Ghana, working alongside our financial and treasury colleagues and local associate.

In the new year, Altair International signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Plexus Africa Finance, to combine our expertise on projects across Francophone West Africa.  We have already delivered successful projects in Cameroon (2022) and Burkina Faso (2023), and we are at the outset of a new project in Cote d’Ivoire (2024).

The year has been capped off by a fascinating World Bank-sponsored project in Mozambique. In collaboration with local partners, we have been conducting a detailed study into the current availability and future potential for producing sustainable and climate-resilient building materials. These construction materials could play an essential role in improving the ability of ordinary Mozambicans’ homes to withstand cyclones, extreme heat, and other extreme climatic events.

We look forward to continuing to support the development of sustainable and affordable housing globally this coming year. If you would like know more about our work, please contact Patrick Goldie.

About the Altair International team

Altair International is led by Olu Olanrewaju, an experienced housing professional who has held senior positions at several of the UK’s leading social housing providers and is the co-founder of The African Housing Company. The department’s second director, Emma Ahmed, is an international development specialist with more than 15 years of experience advising on climate-smart affordable housing markets in the global south.  Patrick Goldie, junior consultant, has played a key role in developing the business strategy for the department while managing complex projects in Tanzania, the Dominican Republic, Mozambique, and elsewhere.

In the past year, the team has grown.  Javier Daura, our new bid manager, has further developed and refined our approach to devising proposals for exciting new projects across South Asia, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa, while Hugo Humphreys, our latest graduate consultant, has already put his organisational and linguistic skills to excellent use on our projects in Burkina Faso.

The International team benefits from the broader expertise of Altair Consultancy and Advisory Services Ltd. With sector experts focussing on governance, finance, transformation, procurement, technology, and more, we are well-equipped to tackle a huge range of specialist areas and to provide a one-stop shop for the wide range of service requests from our global client base. As of April 2024, the firm has also benefitted from the incorporation of Oaks, who bring unparalleled expertise in the charitable,sports and education sectors. We also work with local associates in Africa, Asia and Europe who provides us with not only their technical expertise but also great insights and understanding of their local markets.

[1] https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/10/un-expert-urges-action-end-global-affordable-housing-crisis#:~:text=NEW%20YORK%20(20%20October%202023,to%20afford%20their%20housing%20costs.

 

 

 

 

 

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