A total of 116 building plans were approved in December and represents a 50.6% m/m decline from the 235 building plans approved in November. In value terms approvals decreased by over N$70 million, registering approvals worth N$100 million in December. The 2017 calendar year saw the City of Windhoek approve 1,923 building plans which is an improvement on the 1,761 approved in 2016. In value terms 2017 was a better year than 2016 as well, with cumulative approvals amounting to N$2.19 billion. In value terms 2017 approvals exceeded 2016 approvals by N$219 million, an 11.1% y/y increase. of the number of building plans completed in 2017 amounted to 532, with 86 of those plans completed in December. This is a 25.5% y/y increase from the 424 building plans completed in 2016. N$591 million was spent on completions in 2017 which is only a 0.7% increase from the N$587 million worth of completions done in 2016.
Additions to existing properties perennially make up most of the total building plan approvals and 2017 was no exception. Cumulatively 1,583 additions were rendered to properties in 2017, an 11.6% y/y improvement on the 1,418 additions in 2016. The 2017 calendar year also registered a 15.8% y/y increase in terms of value with regards to additions. N$1,071 billion was spent this year in comparison to N$925 million the previous year.
New residential units were the second largest contributor to the total building plans approved in 2017. 290 new residential units were approved in 2017, 26 units or a 9.8% y/y increase in new residential approvals. In value terms, N$422 million worth of new residential units were approved, a 25.1% increase on the previous year.
The number of commercial and industrial building plans approved in 2017 amounted to 50 units, worth N$697 million. Although there is a 36.7% decrease in the number of approvals compared to 79 recorded in 2016, it is offset by a N$215 million increase or 44.6% y/y rise in the value of commercial unit approvals that provides for some optimism. While 2017 registered better for commercial and industrial units than in 2017, this does in large have to be credited to one sizable project approved in May 2017 valued at over N$500 million. The inclusion of this building plan does provide a relatively skewed view of the strides made in 2017 and if it were to be stripped out, 2017 would rather show a contraction compared to 2016.
The 12-month cumulative number of building plans approved closed off 2017 positively with a 9.2% y/y increase. A total 1,923 building plans were approved in 2017 valued at N$ 2.2 billion. Though 2017 was an improvement on 2016, the number of approvals have been tapering off since its peak in 2013. Weaker consumer and business confidence was evident in the slowdown in private sector credit extension and various other high frequency indicators. As at November 2017, the rolling 12-month private sector credit issuance stood at N$3.8 billion with consumers taking up more than 90% and the remaining 10% issued to corporates to the value of N$468 million. This viewed in conjunction with the depressed level of new commercial and industrial units approved shows that business has not taken up capital projects that would aid in economic recovery, which is so direly needed. This was exacerbated by the tumultuous year that the construction sector faced with the slow payment if invoices, derailing many projects and leading to widespread retrenchments.