Since the highs last experienced just before the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the construction sector in South Africa and on the 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 uncertainty and policy paralysis that are typical of an election year, it certainly seems to present a less than favourable outlook for the South African construction industry.
However, there is cause for optimism with the South African government’s economic stimulus plan to inject billions into infrastructure development. Statistics South Africa’s second quarter figures 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. Its 2019 sub-Saharan Africa construction growth report expects year-on-year growth of 6.8%, and considering total infrastructure spend is expected to total R855-billion over the next three years, an increase of 2.5% on last year.
Fitch says the continent’s top construction performer, Ethiopia, is expected to increase its construction industry value by 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 seventh Annual African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo taking place at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg from June 11 to 13, 2019.
“Given the construction industry’s challenges and contracting growth over the last decade, the expo affords an opportunity to rethink the challenges the industry has been facing and map a positive way forward,” says international exhibitions and publishing company dmg events African Construction Expo portfolio director Tracy-Lee Behr.
“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 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 a holistic stock of the industry and come up with solutions that benefit the entire built environment value chain to ensure resilience,” she says.
Behr adds that it is critical for the construction sector to work to develop the necessary capacity and new technology 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. The latest industry technology will be on display and will feature the best pump, valve and pipe engineering products, as well as 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 operating seamlessly in a growing industry against the backdrop of 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 build skills.