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How adoption of technology will revolutionise construction

By , People Daily Digital
Friday, December 24th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Alex Kamanga, the co-founder Fundi App speaks about trends in the built environment.

Alex Kamanga, the co-founder Fundi App speaks about trends in the built environment.

Briefly share your journey into the construction sector

 I graduated from Technical University of Kenya (TUK) in 2015 and got employed at a Law firm, Mwangi, Wahome & Co. Advocates that had a huge land conveyance and construction portfolio.

I had an interest in business so I transitioned to an international programme known as International Citizen Service (ICS) funded by United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and led globally by Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) Kenya.

I volunteered as an International Citizen Service Entrepreneur and that’s how I got into tech towards end of 2016. 

I went to work in the Manuchandaria Business Incubation centre at Kenyatta University for a startup known as Rocac led by the CEO Humphrey Janji.

Later I left and went to work for a startup in Strathmore University’s @iBizAfrica known as Buymore POS that had an App for informal retailers. I went to work for Inkisha (Now Tanda Africa) that is transforming small shops into banking agents using tech.

Then I  started my first company known as Optimac Labour Solutions that was a  labour subcontractor for foreign construction companies operating in Kenya  that we ended up closing and then in April 2018 we started Fundis together with a group of young people as our ultimate technology company for the  informal sector that includes construction and retail.

What is Fundi all about?

Fundi is a mobile application that employs digital technology to bridge the gap between skilled handymen in the informal sector and middle-class clients and companies of all sizes.

We want them to access markets that they cannot momentarily reach due to status quo, trust issues, as well as capacity.   

From your observation, how easy or tough has it been for the construction industry to adapt to new technology?

From my experience, Prop-tech  (Property Tech- construction and real estate) has been very slow.

From my days as an intern in the law firm in 2015, there has been just, but little changes in land conveyancing (transferring ownership of land).

The land  registry where land records are kept is not fully and reliably digitised yet.

Search at the registry on who owns a parcel of land should be something that should be easy to do. These tasks are still mostly too slow (semi-digitised).

The process of projects conceptualisation is the fastest growing in my view. There are many software aids for building design, but submission and approvals is still very slow since this is done by each county government  where you want to execute your project.

Very little digital technology is being applied in the actual construction process to reduce wastage and improve efficiency.

Very little digital technology is being applied around collections of rents and rental properties management, very little digital  technology is being used to track wear and tear and in the actual repairs and maintenance.

What my company does is that it is an intersections of tech such insurtech (insurance), Edtech, health tech, Fintech, Agritech, Transport tech.

What makes the industry slow paced in the uptake of tech? 

Lack of innovation ecosystem enablers. Every other industry has these innovations ‘sandboxes’. Even aviation has just created one.

I would recommend the intentional creation of such a proptech sandbox that allows the big corporates in the sector to interact and co-create.

What are the current technological trends trends in the world in the industry?

The latest trends are tech-enabled real estate platforms, Use of Artificial Intelligence,  Machine Learning, Robotic process automation and virtual reality.

Block chain in commercial real estate is also something that is coming up. We are working on something with Nyumba Mkononi (BuyRentKenya). 

Is there a trend that is popular in other countries, but has taken time to be adapted in Kenya?

Tech-enabled real estate platforms. It’s taking long to be adopted because the industry works in silos.

While there are a lot of market players in the industry, each is just focusing on their small segment.

I recommend that all sectors work together if we are to see a shift in as far as technology uptake is concerned.

We have thousands of Realtors who have been in the market who are trained to do just do their job well.

Most of them don’t have the skills to build tech powered platforms that tap into millions of data points, so they can’t tap into trends.

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