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Construction industry learns from foreign innovations

By Milliam Murigi
Friday, November 15th, 2019
LEFT: From right, Ben Greenish DMG Events VP, Public Works PS Maj Gen (rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa, Kuwait Ambassador Qusai Rashed Al Farhan and PIP Factory Manager Bahaa Aldin Ahmad during the expo. ABOVE: Jomoo toilets on display. PD/ Milliam Murigi

Experts at Big 5 construct Kenya conference advocated for embracing of disruptive technology such as drones, artificial intelligence and 3D printing and digital design

More than 210 exhibitors from all over the world flocked Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to showcase their latest technologies in the construction industry during the recently concluded third Big Five Construct Kenya exhibition.

The annual expo connects the local building and construction sector to the latest global technologies. This year’s event brought together innovative products new to the local market and covered almost all sectors of construction. 

International exhibitors at the event came from 30 countries, including United Arab Emirates, Qatar, China, Turkey, Greece and Belgium. The latest pavilions came from Egypt and Kuwait, highlighting an increased interest in Kenya’s investment opportunities.

The expo also provided a training platform for professionals in the construction industry by offering 40 free workshops, boosting career development points with certifications. An upgraded Women in Construction series, featuring an all-female speaker line up, excited many.  

National Construction Authority (NCA)’s Director, Maurice Akech, said the event was an opportunity to pick up new, innovative ideas and get a glimpse into the latest industry trends. “There are numerous business opportunities to be explored by adopting concepts that have worked in international markets, which ultimately leads to economic growth,” he added. 

Decorative paints

Smart toilets from Jomoo (China), Acfa boards from Acfa Building solutions, lightweight energy-saving wallboards from Guizhou Theo Group and Neuce, a decorative paint, were some of the new products on display. 

Jomoo’s booth was one of the largest at the event, drawing attention of hundreds of visitors and the media. There were three residential bathroom collections, products for government projects, interactive areas for smart toilets and shower sets. On another corner was a hardware display with award-winning products, showcasing a full range of sanitary wares.

Opening the event, Maj Gen (Rtd) Dr Gordon Kihalangwa, Public Works Principal Secretary, said that such opportunities need to be embraced especially now that the State has embarked on massive construction. “We need to collaborate with other industry players to achieve the best. There is a lot for us to learn from each other,” he said.

He urged developers and construction industry stakeholders to partner with the international firms to ensure that they start using the latest technologies since this is the only way to go if Kenyans want to achieve Affordable Housing, one of the Big Four agenda pillars. 

“In construction, no one can work alone. We must complement each other starting from people, products and machines. I believe if we work together, we will be able to achieve great things in not only the construction industry, but also for our economy,” he said.  

On his part DMG events Senior Vice President Ben Greenish said the local building community continues to express interest for platforms where they can interact with international players. This is with the aim of introducing the latest building products and solutions in the region, which is why expos are important. 

“This was a unique opportunity for all industry stakeholders to not only showcase what they have to offer, but also pick up new, innovative ideas and get a glimpse into the latest industry trends. The exhibition provides a platform for all which creates a valuable learning experience for visitors,” he said.

 The event showcased products across five of the most popular product sectors including building interiors, building materials, and tools, building services, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, and concrete and plant machinery and vehicles. Heavyweights such as JCB and Al Hatim Décor used the platform to launch several products in Kenya.

Global manufacturers  

Technology experts present at a new segment at the event, Disruptive Technology Sessions, advocated for embracing of disruptive technology. They taught delegates how to incorporate new technologies such as drones technology, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and digital design into their build projects. 

“This year we had a new session and it was all about disruptive technology. This was in response to the construction community’s need to find more time and cost-effective building solutions as it strives to meet the country’s growing transport, residential and infrastructure demands,” said Muhammed Kazi, portfolio director at DMG events.

According to Greenish, the exhibition has boosted some international companies such as Kumkang Kind East Africa (from South Korea) and Jomoo because they have managed to set shop in Kenya, making their products readily available at cheaper prices. “Global manufacturers who haven’t managed to set shop formed partnerships with the Kenyan companies to ensure that their product is also available,” he said.  

However, many others were exhibiting for the first time with the aim of joining the local market. Dr Kihalangwa welcomed investors, assuring them of government support when setting up their offices in Kenya.