22nd September 2008
South Africa’s emphasis on infrastructural delivery meant that the choice of technology and products used in construction were important and must be locally appropriate.
“The conference bears testimony to the important role that South Africa plays in improving the livelihood of our people, by encouraging the use of modern, and more efficient use of construction materials,” explained Agrément SA CEO Joe Odhiambo at the start of the four-day conference in Pretoria.
Agrément SA serves the building and engineering communities by providing assurance to specifiers and users through technical approvals for the fitness of purpose of non-standardised or unconventional products. It also serves the construction communities by providing assurance to specifiers regulators, financial institutions, and users, thereby facilitating entry into the market by entrepreneurs.
“We will increasingly need this organisation to work even harder in procuring and popularising these materials and building systems. We know that these materials and systems provide an alternative to conventional ones in terms of costs, job opportunities for local communities and efficiency,” stated Deputy Minister of Public Works Ntopile Kganyago.
WFTAO general secretary Thomas Bruun noted the importance of sharing research and product knowledge and the scientific basis of developments throughout the world. He also noted that sustainability throughout the value chain has become an essential requirement.
In South Africa, many conventional building materials were viewed as expensive and inaccessible for poor people. Beyond environmental sustainability of materials, factors of economic growth and social equity had to be considered in the rollout of infrastructure.
By providing assurances for non-standardised products, Agrément SA was providing alternatives to more expensive traditional building materials.
“Our primary objective is to enhance and support the use of innovative construction products, and we do this by ensuring mutual recognition between the bodies that are involved, in the assessments that are made by individual bodies. We are attempting to ensure that assessments made by one body, will be recognised to the largest possible extent by other bodies, and thereby ensuring a global acceptance of construction products,” added Bruun.
Kganyago also highlighted the importance of “the ability of the country [South Africa] to constantly generate new innovative technologies in support of quality products and services. There is also the need to improve the speed of delivery in our industry, which is necessitated by the backlogs in socio-economic development.”
Edited by: Mariaan Webb