RICHARD TOMES The industry needs to engage with government regarding the need for infrastructure spend
Leading construction materials company AfriSam has shown its commitment to the South African concrete industry by headlining the sponsorship of this year’s Concrete Conference.
“As the leading supplier of concrete materials and the brand being synonymous with concrete in Southern Africa, it was a natural fit for AfriSam to take the lead in supporting the concrete industry through this conference,” AfriSam sales and marketing executive Richard Tomes tells Engineering News.
“We are pleased to partner with industry bodies in events that showcase quality and performance in the construction sector, and share expertise and skills among the players in this market.”
Tomes highlights that concrete is a versatile product that serves a wide and vital social purpose. “It creates possibilities for building education institutions, hospitals, transport and infrastructure of any shape and description.”
AfriSam, therefore, believes that the conference is an important contributor to advancing excellence in the development and application of concrete.
The conference is hosted by four concrete industry associations – the Southern Africa Ready-mix Association, The Concrete Institute, the Concrete Society of Southern Africa and the Concrete Manufacturers Association – and will be held at the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre, in Boksburg, on August 1 and 2 this year.
Tomes notes, however, that the concrete industry is struggling from a financial performance perspective. “There are not many big infrastructure projects taking place currently and some large construction companies are struggling, the latest casualty being Basil Read, which recently applied for business rescue.”
He believes that the industry needs to engage with government regarding the need for infrastructure spend, such as upgrading the country’s roads and dams, as there is a desperate need for South Africa to maintain its infrastructure if it is to remain competitive as one of the leading economies on the continent.
This is one of the major reasons Tomes believes that there needs to be closer collaboration between the various industry bodies.
“I believe that the various industry bodies need to work more closely together and speak with one voice when engaging various stake- holders on matters critical for the advancement of our industry.”
Tomes would like to see that, where industry bodies have common objectives, they join forces, share knowledge and expertise, and advance industry objectives as a united front.
There are a number of challenges facing the cement and concrete industries and these need to be addressed collectively, “because people are always sceptical about individual companies talking to government. It needs to be an industrywide discussion. The various bodies must collaboratively champion the various aspects that impact our industry such as environmental legislation, energy consumption, imports and skills development”, he says.
Meanwhile, the topics on the programme at this year’s conference will include presentations on the prospects for the construction industry, updates on design codes and concrete standards, materials recycling and self-healing concrete technology.
There will also be talks on energy efficient concrete roofs; aspects of macro, steel and micro fibres; and extrusion kerbing. Speakers will provide case studies on recent landmark projects using concrete, such as the Bosjes Chapel in Breede Valley, in the Western Cape, and Fourways Mall, in Gauteng.
AfriSam readymix GM Amit Dawneerangen will present a case study on the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa at the V&A Waterfront, in Cape Town. This architectural and engineering feat was the result of 100-year old grain silos being converted into the world’s largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa.
Delegates can also look forward to cutting-edge input from several well-respected names in the industry.