Newly built low-cost housing in Soweto – aplace to call home.(Image: Chris Kirchhoff,MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more freephotos, visit our image library.) This article originally appeared on pagefive of South Africa Now, a six-pagesupplement to the Washington Postproduced on behalf of Brand South Africa.(Click to enlarge.)MEDIA CONTACTS• IHS South Africa+27 11 [email protected]• IHS United States+1 443 263 [email protected] Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and the growth of a new middle class are fuelling demand for affordable homes. For private equity fund International Housing Solutions (IHS) and its global investors, that means opportunity.IHS’ South Africa Workforce Housing Fund has raised some US$250-million (R1.7-billion), with early support from the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation, to take equity stakes in developers and development projects that are adding tens of thousands of new homes and apartments to South Africa’s housing stockInvestors include Citigroup Global Markets along with a major North American endowment and a pension fund. The Development Bank of Southern Africa is also participating.In its largest deal to date, IHS has invested around $30-million (R200-million) in the conversion of 11 landmark buildings in downtown Johannesburg into 3 000 rental units. This and similar IHS-funded projects are making an important contribution to the revival of Johannesburg’s central business district. Other IHS-backed projects include a 4 141-unit estate in Soweto’s Jabulani district – the kind of development that is making Soweto unrecognisable to anyone whose mental picture of the township was formed before the advent of democracy.IHS’ Washington-based managing partner is Soula Proxenos. She maintains deep ties with her home country and is happy to be counted as a Global South African, part of a growing network of South African émigrés committed to the country’s success.The housing in which IHS is investing is targeted at salary earners who can afford reasonable mortgage payments or rent but battle to find reasonably priced accommodation in the current market. These, says Proxenos, are the “missing middle” and many, she believes, are better off renting rather than owning.“Overall the demand for housing in the affordable property sector is huge. But current access to finance is driving consumers to rent rather than buy. For developers and investors like IHS, the high demand plus the relatively low default rate in rental payments make the provision of rental accommodation in the affordable housing market an ideal product.”Proxenos, who was managing director of Fannie Mae’s International Housing Financial Services before joining IHS, says the idea that home-ownership is always the best option is “clearly outdated”, putting people into homes they cannot afford. “It has proved a dangerous model in the US, leading to the worldwide housing crash which sparked the meltdown in financial markets.”Download South Africa Now in PDF format (2.2 MB), or read selected articles online:Powering towards a green economySouth Africa plans to build a massive $21.8-billion, 5 000 MW solar park in its semi-desert Northern Cape province as part of an aggressive push to grow its highly industrialised economy without increasing its carbon footprint.The everyday beauty of SowetoSouth African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured. On the cover of Time magazine she made a mutilated Afghani girl look beautiful, and in her latest book Soweto she makes everyday township life shine.Launchpad to a billion consumersBy offering to acquire Massmart for some $4.2-billion, Wal-Mart has joined the parade of global companies looking to South Africa as a springboard into what is increasingly seen as the world’s last great investment frontier.A trek to the start of timeIt will probe the edges of our universe. It will be a virtual time machine, helping scientists explore the origins of galaxies. It’s the Square Kilometre Array, and South Africans are at the heart of its development.Brewing up a global brandMiller Lite. Tastes great. Less filling. And brought to you by world-beating South African company SABMiller.Looking south and east for growthAs the shift in global economic power gains momentum, South Africa’s trade is moving eastwards and southwards in a pattern that both reflects the worldwide trend and helps drive it, writes John Battersby.More than just a celluloid MandelaThere is a special bond between Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and the man he played in the Clint Eastwood movie Invictus, South African statesman Nelson Mandela.Africa in the new world orderKgalema Motlanthe, South Africa’s deputy president, looks at how African economies’ resilient performance during the global financial crisis points to the continent’s new place in a changing world.Mining history for new solutionsMark Cutifani, CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company, examines why South Africa’s past is key to successfully doing business here in the future.Turning up the media volumeSince 1990, South Africa has been a noisy place. After decades of apartheid censorship, the lifting of restrictions on the media led to a cacophony of debate. For the first time in centuries, everyone could be heard, and it was sometimes deafening, writes Anton Harber.A joule of an energy-efficient carSouth Africa, which builds BMWs and Mercedes Benzes for the US market, is in the thick of the race to deliver a truly practical – and stylish – electric car. Meet the Joule.South Africa: Time to believeThe forgiving philosophy of “ubuntu” helps explain how South Africa managed to transcend its turbulent apartheid past and create a unified democracy, writes Simon Barber.Finding sound real estate investmentSouth Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and new middle class are fuelling demand for affordable homes. For private equity fund International Housing Solutions, that means opportunity.My normal, crazy, mixed-up countrySouth African hit movie White Wedding is now showing in the US to rave reviews. Jann Turner, who directed and jointly wrote and produced the film, writes about the place that inspired it – South Africa.Bring on the braaiAll South Africans love it – including Nobel peace prize-winning Desmond Tutu – and its rich, smoky smell floats over the country every Sunday. Celebrate the braai with our great recipe for making boerewors, traditional South African farmer’s sausage.