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“We Do the Social”

Deal-Making by Non-Accredited Estate Agencies, Small-Scale Investors and Tenants around Low-Cost Rental Housing in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

In: Afrika Focus
Author:
Irit Eguavoen Department of Geography, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany, eguavoen@uni-bonn.de

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Abstract

The ethnographic study was conducted in the unplanned settlement of Adjahui, which is located in Port Bouët municipality of the Abidjan metropolis, Côte d’Ivoire, where, after a short period of self-building activities, rental housing was constructed on a massive scale. We asked about the motivations behind these investments into the lowest price segment of rentals in Abidjan and their property management. Findings from interviews with 12 estate agents revealed that small-scale private investors from the middle class and West African migrant background speculated with low-cost housing under extra-legal conditions to accumulate or maintain their wealth. These entrepreneurial landlords delegated construction of courtyard houses and property management to local non-accredited estate agencies. While the deals between investors and estate agents were driven by profit, the occupational history of the estate agents showed how they randomly moved into this business. Their work was also socially motivated, as they expressed responsibility for their customers, who could not afford other rental housing. The paper will discuss how the investments reduced the quantitative deficit in low-cost rental housing.

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