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Africa's 2017 mega-construction expo reveals 36 percent growth

Africa Construction and Totally Concrete Expo 2017The fifth edition of the biggest gathering of built environment professionals under one roof - the African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo - took place at Gallagher Convention Centre on 23 and 24 May 2017 and saw an unprecedented 36% growth in the number of attendees. The event united over 7100 built environment professionals and resulted in hundreds of business deals being done across both the public and private sectors.

In line with Minister Nathi Nhleko’s recent announcement on transforming the construction sector, the event provided 36 free training workshops, including CPD accredited training for architects, quantity surveyors and engineers. Additional training was offered in Africa’s first-ever Contractor’s Corner, sponsored by AfriSam, Builders and Concrete Slab Supplies, which featured product demonstrations and practical skills training for the over 2500 building contractors in attendance.

The indoor and outdoor exhibition increased to 221 exhibitors this year, up from 176 exhibitors in 2016, and for the first time featured six dedicated zones: construction; concrete; digital construction; mechanical electrical and plumbing (MEP); surfaces and finishes; and tools and equipment - which enabled visitors to navigate their way through Africa’s must attend show for the built environment more efficiently. Visitors also benefited from the R100 000 worth of prizes which were given away, ranging from tools to equipment to R50 000 worth of vouchers from Builders.

Africa Construction and Totally Concrete Expo 2017Once again the Expo proved to be the undisputed platform for deal-making in the built environment industry with over 60% of the exhibiting companies rebooking for 2018’s expo at the show. As one exhibitor explained, “we’ve been trying to meet with a key parastatal for almost two years, they were at the show and we were able to negotiate a deal with them - in just two days we achieved what we have been trying to achieve for two years!”

Four co-located events took place alongside the Expo namely the Captains of Construction and Infrastructure Leadership Forum, the Smart Buildings and Infrastructure Africa Summit, the Digital Construction Expo, as well as the Women in Construction Awards which was a gala dinner recognising the excellent contributions made by women in the construction, cement and concrete industries over the past year.

Over 100 VIP’s from private sector CEO’s to public sector government officials attended the show, in addition to 90 expert speakers who addressed the audience at the Captains of Construction and Infrastructure Leadership Forum, the Smart Buildings and Infrastructure Africa Summit, the Digital Knowledge Lounge and workshops.

During dynamic round table discussions held at the event, gender empowerment, industry transformation including urban regeneration, effective leadership for public-private partnerships and enterprise development were identified as key focus areas to drive African growth and industrialisation. With both South Africa’s Department of Human Settlements and Department of Public Works heading up the keynote session, the importance of private sector participation in the local built environment and construction industry marketplace was highlighted as key to resolving Africa’s infrastructure gap.

Africa Construction and Totally Concrete Expo 2017South Africa’s Department of Public Works, represented by Wasnaar Hlabangwane, Chief Director of Construction Management, indicated that private sector involvement in Africa’s infrastructure project pipeline will not only facilitate the rollout of infrastructure but also create capacity and address skills shortages in the sector. “If we are to realise radical economic transformation that will see the economy begin to pick up, there will be increasing demands for professional services, and the pool of skills represented by built environment professions should accordingly increase to bring the historically marginalised into the mainstream of the economy,” Hlabangwane stated.

Jacob Mamabolo, the Gauteng MEC for infrastructure development, who also represented South Africa’s Department of Human Settlements at the event, underpinned this statement by saying, “Your [private sector] participation is not only desirable but absolutely essential if we want to achieve our goals of inclusive and productive human settlements that provide vibrant places to grow our economy.” MEC Mamabolo also indicated that the government is committed to actively pursuing a transformation agenda in the development of both human settlements and infrastructure projects. “Project design, financing, engineering, construction and project management will all have to be provided in partnership with the private sector. This is one area that we need to explore to make sure that we can tap into the massive skills that exist in the private sector, but it is also desperately needed in the public sector,” MEC Mamabolo added.

Throughout the year, planning for this initiative will continue to connect public and private sectors towards industry transformation and the 2018 edition will take place at Gallagher Convention Centre on 16 - 17 May 2018.

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