While the construction sector continues to be one of the main contributors of the economic growth in the country as well in other parts of the continent, players in the construction sector have said that there is a need for more innovative solutions.
This is what is on the mind of the organisers of the ongoing building and construction expo, dubbed BuildExpo, that is underway at Kigali Convention Centre since Wednesday.
The event brings together industry experts and over 50 business executives from about 16 countries, and organisers 1,500 visitors from Rwanda and neighboring countries for the period of three days.
Asif Mavany, from Expo Group, the organisers of the exhibition, said that Africa is registering remarkable growth in the construction sector, but that there is a need to push for more innovative solutions in the construction sector.
“African markets are potentially growing and to meet the growing demand in the construction sector, we need to harmonise their efforts to enable them become more innovative and create solutions that are innovative and technologically driven,” he said.
Speaking at the opening of the expo, Emmanconstruel Hategeka, the chief operating officer at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said the country’s construction sector has had steady growth for the past decade, and that it continues the momentum to attract more investments.
“Rwanda has been on a steady growth path for the last decade, and the construction sector has been growing at 12 per cent per annum. It is one of the few areas where we have registered double digit growth,” Hategeka said.
“The growth we have experienced over a couple of years has been spreading across the entire country. There are massive construction activities and this is due to the increased investments. But we want to attract more investments because this is an important sector for us,” he added.
RDB statistics indicate that, overall, the industry sector contributes 15 per cent of the country’s growth domestic product (GDP), of which construction alone contributes 7 per cent.
According to Hategeka, investments in construction sector grew from $100 million and ten years ago to $586 million last year, mainly driven by private investors and increased demand.
Cost of construction materials
Meanwhile, some sector players decried the high cost of construction materials, which is blamed on the fact that most of them are imported. But this situaton is also slowly changing, as some materials are starting to be made locally.
Mavany said that through the expo and other initiatives, they are connecting manufacturers from across the world to set up base in developing countries like Rwanda.
He reckoned that the cost of construction could soon be lowered as more private companies are opening shop in Africa.
In Rwanda, for instance, Cimerwa has stepped up its cement production capacity, while other construction materials like metal roofing sheets, hollow sections and profiles, clay and ceramic building materials (bricks, blocks and tiles), and paint, are produced in Rwanda.
Speaking to The New Times, Rashid Mchatta, the director general of Surveying Equipment Service Centre, an enterprise dedicated in surveying equipment services in East Africa, regional countries have spent a lot of money on importing construction equipment and this should change.
“Construction materials which are imported are quite expensive and African countries have spent millions of money. In addition, some equipment shipped are hard to maintain. As regional companies, we have to tap into innovation and research to create products that are cost effective and affordable,” he said.
Mchatta is showcasing the latest drone technology for surveying at the Building and Construction Expo which is running concurrently with the Energy and Power Expo.
Organisers are optimistic that bringing the two industries together will help lay ground for partnerships.
Mavany said that they expect manufacturers who are showcasing their products to seal million dollar agreements with local suppliers during and after the exhibition.
Hategeka believes that it will also give a platform for producers, buyers as well as investors to make business.
“It is going to provide a single platform in one location for both industries to showcase their products, but also for producers to meet the buyers as well as enable the government to meet potential investors of tomorrow,” he said.
Hategeka added that it will be a time to showcase opportunities in the construction, power and energy sectors.