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Housing in Congo's Pointe-Noire: A case of financial muscle over availability (1)

Housing in Congo's Pointe-Noire: A case of financial muscle over availability (1)

Republic of the Congo

A bright sunny day in the Congolese coastal town of Pointe Noire is as possible as its opposite, a rainy soggy day with very bad access routes home.

Fatimata Doumbia, is a corporate executive who has relocated from her native Ivory Coast to Congo’s commercial capital. “A house is of great importance to me, it’s where I will go and rest after the day’s work,” she tells Africanews’ reporter.

Whiles underscoring the importance of shelter, she also points to easy transport and the availability of key utilities (electricity and potable water) as two crucial factors she would looked out for in renting her apartment.

Here in Congo, (there is) always a place to rent in less than 24 hours if you really want a place that bad. The problem is the bad (link) roads to some of these apartments

Curious to know why cost was not one of her primary considerations, Fatimata said prices of apartment in Pointe Noire are somewhat standard depending on the number of rooms available for rent, according to information she gathered.

Her views were supported when we went to meet a “housing agent”, one of those middleman/middlewomen whose business is to more or less book apartments and take  potential clients (tenants) to see the owners (landlords).

These agents charge a flat fee of 5,000 FCFA (about $9) for taking clients around to check out apartments, irrespective of the number of places visited, the client has to bear the transport cost in all of these rounds.

Spoilt for choice

Congo’s geoeconomic structure and the growth profile it generates have led to an imbalanced regional development according to analysts. The concentration of economic activities and investment in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire has further deepened the imbalances, in particular between urban and rural areas.

A sign of brisk business for house agents is the mounting of notice boards at most intersections with agency contacts and available houses for rent.

The building boom sweeping across Africa, seems to have hit Congo’s bustling commercial capital, as there is almost always some apartment available for rent. From single rooms, to two or three bedroom apartments or even a fully walled house.

It seems in Pointe Noire, it’s more about financial capability than availability.

Emmanuel Allotey, is a Ghanaian and Fatimata’s colleague; he is in love with the Congolese rental module. His only headache however is access routes to these homes.

“Here in Congo, (there is) always a place to rent in less than 24 hours if you really want a place that bad. The problem is the bad (link) roads to some of these apartments,” he bemoaned.

In the second part of this piece, we look at the cost implications relating to apartment rental and also the issues of ‘Rent Advance’ referred to as ‘Caution’ in Congo.

Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa
Africanews web journalist
Congo’s commercial hub of Pointe Noire.