Expo reveals that the construction industry is ready to create new solutions that Africa’s infrastructure boom will require.

The consensus that emerged from the three-day Totally Concrete expo, held recently at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, is that members of the construction value chain are eager to collaborate with each other to create the new solutions that Africa’s infrastructure boom will require. The expo’s theme was “A date with innovation”.

“It was very good to see everybody involved in the industry at the event, from designers to construction companies, from micro-enterprises to large manufacturers like ourselves,” says Alta Walker, Head: Innovation at PPC. “Government and the professional associations and institutes were also present. Everyone understands the need for innovation but, even more importantly, they are starting to explore ways to work together to develop solutions that work within the African context.”

This drive to collaborate and innovate in response to the challenges and opportunities generated by Africa’s need for infrastructure could be seen as expanding the “civilution” movement already happening within the civil engineering industry more broadly.

“As an industry, we recognise that Africa’s challenges, which include rapid urbanisation, a lack of skills and capital, and the need for sustainable solutions, mean that business as usual just isn’t an option,’ says Alta. “Creating innovation platforms to strengthen and fast-track collaboration is going to be critical, I believe.”

Another key innovation area addressed at Totally Concrete was finance. Development capital is scarce globally, and projects in Africa are competing with projects from many other regions. African companies and governments need to give careful thought as to how they position infrastructure projects and what their potential returns are.

“The big companies tend to focus on identifying gaps in the value chain that new companies could fill, and on helping entrepreneurs establish themselves – but now we need to build deeper partnerships by sharing marketing expertise and initiatives with them.” She concludes, “The more participants there are in the value chain, the better for everyone.”

For more information visit www.ppc.co.za