Since the highs last experienced just before the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the construction sector in South Africa and on the African continent has yet to see an industry boom.
South Africa experienced a technical recession in the first and second quarters of this year. Coupled with 2018’s economic instability, woeful performances by state-owned enterprises and its negative effect on civil construction, as well as institutional uncertainly and policy paralysis that are typical of an election year, it certainly presents a less than favourable outlook for the South African construction industry.
Cause for optimism
However, there is cause for optimism with the South African government’s economic stimulus plan to inject billions into infrastructure development. Add Statistics SA Q2 figures, which suggest a 2.3% uptick in construction activity and the construction tide may rise sooner rather than later.
Research giant Fitch Solutions also expects 2019 to be the year the sector finally emerges from recession. The 2019 sub-Saharan Africa construction growth report expects year-on-year growth of 6.8%, considering the total infrastructure spend is expected to total R855-billion over the next 3 years, an increase of 2.5% from last year.
Fitch says Ethiopia, the continent’s top construction performer, is expected to increase its construction industry value to 12.3%. But industry growth in Zambia and Namibia is slowing down as Zambia faces fiscal challenges and rising debt while Namibia is seeing major projects coming to an end.
Against this background, construction professionals across Africa can mark their calendar for the year’s biggest industry event – the 7th Annual African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo taking place at Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg from 11 to 13 June 2019.
“Given the construction industry’s challenges and contracting growth over the last decade, the expo affords an opportunity to rethink challenges the industry has been facing and mapping a positive way forward,” says Tracy-Lee Behr, Portfolio Director of African Construction Expo at dmg events.
“The expo is the construction industry’s largest gathering of construction professionals and provides unique opportunities for the industry as a whole when 9 500 construction professionals from over 45 countries come together to do business, form and strengthen partnerships and learn from each other.”
Moreover, Behr explains that because this year’s expo is co-located with four other industry expos – Totally Concrete Expo; Pumps, Valves and Pipes Africa Expo; African Smart Cities Summit and African Construction Awards. “It is a chance for attending industry players to not only stake their claim in Africa’s construction industry but also to take holistic stock of the industry and come up with solutions that benefit the entire built environment value chain to ensure resilience,” she says.
Technology, innovation, creativity
Behr continues that it is critical for the construction sector to work to develop the necessary capacity and new technology today to be able to meaningfully contribute to the future worldwide economy.
Construction technology and new building methods remain the biggest disruptors for the construction industry. So, the latest industry technology will be on display and will feature the best pump, valve and pipe engineering products, building materials and smart city technology to touch, feel and experience.
Beyond technology, innovation and creativity, the industry’s current and future workforce and leadership are expected to play a major role in order to operate seamlessly in the growing industry set against the fourth industrial revolution. Africa has a fast-growing young population and by providing them the opportunity to build and upskill fresh innovative talent, this will infuse fresh thinking into this sector. For that reason, the expo offers robust free workshop and training programmes to boost professional development and skill building.
A truly African event, the African Construction Expo – co-located with the Totally Concrete Expo, Pumps, Valves and Pipes Africa Expo, African Construction Awards as well as the African Smart Cities Summit – attracts buyers, sellers and contractors from over 45 countries, of which 15 are African.