Socioeconomic Change Creates Social Shift from Horizontal to Vertical Housing

By: Aisha Braima

Khartoum (Sudanow) Rising need for housing has caused a tremendous encroachment of residential areas on farm lands. The spree for building new homes has also caused land prices to escalate to magnitudes not known before. This has caused socio-economic planners to consider a shift to high–rise and apartment buildings.

For generations now, Sudan had adopted horizontal house planning. But with changing life styles some Sudanese had a second thought and have now stomached the idea of living in apartments. This has encouraged some real estate companies to invest in apartment buildings, which housing planners call vertical housing. Those companies now sell apartments to customers on hire- purchase basis.

Sudanow visited some of these residential compounds, talked to government officials overseeing this activity and apartment residents and filed the following report:

Sara and her children with the reporter
Sara and her children with the reporter

“Government hire- purchase apartments' project is sponsored and implemented by the National Housing and Construction Fund (NHCF). The project emerged a few years ago and offers first class housing for capable government employees and other applicants,” NHCF General Manager Ghulameldeen Othman said.

He said the philosophy behind establishing the project is to achieve socioeconomic, political and security goals. He explained that the project offers housing service for a considerable number of families in a bid to create socio- economic stability for the greatest possible number of Sudanese.
Eventually, he said, such stability will be reflected positively on political and security situation in the country.

Economists say vertical residential compounds have a number of socio - economic advantages compared to horizontal residential housing. They say the existence of many citizens in one compound makes it easier to offer integrated services of electricity , water supplies, gardening, sanitation and entertainment besides supermarkets and effective security.
Mr. Awadallah
Mr. Awadallah

“The service provided in a high-rise compound is cheaper and more affordable than the service offered at horizontal residential areas, '' argued Othman. He said, accordingly, land could be spared for other purposes such as agriculture, education and health facilities , sporting fields and public parks.
Economists argue that, for instance , an area of 500 square meters could accommodate tens of families. Another advantage is that vertical cities are usually built in compounds with one main gateway and that eases the provision of security service.

For his part, NHCF Information Officer Omar Sadan has confirmed that vertical residential compounds have expanded in Khartoum state recently '' this housing style was accepted socially, particularly by Sudanese expatriates. Some citizens have already received their apartments at AL Neileen and ALRagei compounds, located opposite to Khartoum Teaching Hospital just, down the AL Masalamia Bridge”. These compounds are administered by Khartoum state until after apartments owners complete payment of installments to cover full price, an apartment owner in Al Neileen compound said. However, he complained that water service and power supply are not reliable in the compound.
flat 3

In contrast, owners of apartments at AL Rowwad residential compound say they never experienced such a problem of water or power cutoff. The compound is run by AL Rowwad company for real estate development. It is located in the central Khartoum, some five kilometers away from Khartoum Airport. The compound consists of 50 high-rise buildings and the company offers apartments to the customers for cash or in installments . The installments set to recover the apartment price are to be paid in three and half years after the customer pays 40 % of total cost in advance. One apartment is worth between SDG1m to SDG2.5m. '' Most of our customers are Sudanese expatriates living in the Gulf region or elsewhere in the World, '' AL Rowwad Projects Manager Khalid Jamal Salim said. He added that socio-economic circumstances require having this kind of housing . He said the vertical housing style is convenient for the Government in that it reduces the cost of services.

However, low-income people complain that they cannot afford the high prices of such apartments. They also argue that such housing is not in keeping with the traditional Sudanese housing style. They say the Sudanese live in extended families and living in apartments doesn’t allow enough space for hosting guests. '' Of course ordinary people cannot afford to buy apartments,'' NHCF General Manager , Othman, concedes. He argued that the idea of selling apartments to the well-to-do has dual role. First, this style of housing could meet the demand of some categories in the society, particularly expatriates who are accustomed to living in apartments. Secondly, the money obtained from selling apartments could be reinvested in low- cost housing to meet the need of the rest of ordinary Sudanese.
NHCF   General Manager  Ghulameldeen
NHCF General Manager Ghulameldeen

The NHCF administration says nearly 1200 flats were planned to be implemented in Omdurman in collaboration with Sudan Workers Trade Unions Federation and its branches. This idea, according to NHCF, could be further applied in other states, particularly Gezira.

For his part, AL Rowwad projects manager said they had taken into consideration the Sudanese traditional culture of the extended family. He said rooms were designed in a manner that suits visitors and relatives. '' It is really a comfortable place,'' said university professor in Saudi Arabia Sara Mohamed , who bought an apartment at Al Rowwad compound four years ago.

'' I migrated 15 years ago with my husband and had always wanted to get reasonable flat at an excellent and safe area. Now we are happy because the compound is safe and located in a healthy green environment with reliable power and water supplies . In addition, she said, the residents are vey sociable.

Another resident named Awadallah Ahmed Ali said he had sold off his two- storey building in Omdurman to buy an apartment in Al Rowwad . Ali shares Sara her view that the apartment deserves the price paid. Meanwhile, security service departments attached to the residential compounds complain that some visitors grumble from personal information they request from them. Some visitors say that the personal information required bother them and discourage them from repeating their visits, according to some security personnel.
AL Rowwad Projects Manager Khalid
AL Rowwad Projects Manager Khalid

Generally speaking, companies investing in vertical housing projects and the NHCF that sponsors the scheme, believe the idea is gaining popularity , particularly amongst the targeted category.The investors say they have so far sold off 75 percent of turn-key apartments and continue to receive more and more requests for their apartments.


Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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