Africa Addresses Global Construction Industry Challenges

Africa Addresses Global Construction Industry Challenges

Project delivery, sustainability, affordability and disaster resilience have been identified by the World Economic Forum as key challenges currently facing the global construction industry. However, innovative solutions to these are already taking shape in pockets of Africa’s construction marketplace. With the African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo being the continent’s largest gathering of built environment professionals, it is the perfect platform to facilitate the sharing of these countermeasures more broadly.

Taking place on 23 and 24 May 2017, the Expo will feature free, CPD-accredited workshops that will not only inspire attendees to address these issues within their own businesses and countries, but also educate them on how to do so.

Project delivery

All over the world, the construction industry has earned notoriety for not delivering on time and on budget, with research from the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Columbia University revealing that more than 90% of megaprojects are above budget or behind schedule. To help improve this, and ultimately the productivity of the sector (particularly amongst small contractors), AfriSam will be hosting a series of masterclasses in the Contractors Corner, the first-ever African outdoor workshop auditorium. Topics to be tackled include Finance and building materials for government projects as well as Best practices in key account management and construction material supply.


The Harvard Graduate School of Design has reported that the engineering and construction industry is the largest consumer of raw materials worldwide. In addition, 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to buildings. Smart and sustainable approaches to building and construction diminish the industry’s environmental footprint. What’s more these promote the development of buildings and infrastructure that benefit from reduced maintenance costs over time. GreenCape, an expert in green economics, will be presenting the business case for the use of builders’ rubble in construction. The company’s CEO, Mike Mulcahy says: “Rising prices of energy, water and waste management are making cleaner and more sustainable options more cost effective. The faster that these alternatives are implemented, the sooner we will see prices drop. There is a real opportunity for companies to work on understanding their cost drivers and looking for slightly broader solutions in the green economy to make themselves more competitive in the short term and more sustainable in the long term.”


According to statistics from the United Nations, more than 800 million people do not have adequate housing and 330 million are financially overstretched. Innovation in formwork, modular construction, precast concrete and other alternative building technologies are providing new opportunities for housing delivery in Africa. With housing delivery targets being mandated in line with national development plans across the sub-Saharan region, many international suppliers are turning their attention to the prospects provided by those projects planned and underway in this part of the continent. Curt Lindroth, Elematic Oyj’s Area Director in the United Arab Emirates, will be sharing the Finnish company’s experience with prefabrication for affordable housing projects.

Disaster resilience

Climate change and the resulting natural disasters it brings means that buildings and infrastructure have to be able to cope with these threats. This begins with better design to deal with the unavoidable, from higher temperatures and different wind and rainfall patterns to hazards such as flooding and storms. Bringing further light to this issue, Videsh Boodu, Architectural Technologist at Kantey & Templer Consulting Engineers, will be presenting on the topic of building design for the climate during a training workshop hosted by the South African Institute of Building Design.

“By sharing these solutions, they will hopefully turn into continent-wide construction industry trends,” concludes African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo Programme Director, Soren du Preez.