The tenth edition of Big 5 Construct Southern Africa concluded recently with co-located events including the Big 5 Southern Africa Construction Impact Awards and African Smart Cities Summit.
“The construction industry is an engine for economic growth and prosperity and it’s through working together that we can ensure a more resilient future,” said Tracy-Lee Behr, Portfolio Director: Built Environment at dmg events.
Big 5 Construct Southern Africa contributes significantly to the economic recovery, growth and transformation of Southern Africa’s construction industry, placing a special focus on accelerating business through face-to-face engagement. The event united over 200 exhibitors, 80 speakers, and stakeholders from over 45 countries,” Behr said.
Attendees enjoyed access to 6000+ products and technologies and 30 CPD accredited workshops, covering an array of themes from transformation to professional development, smart construction to architecture, real estate and more, offering a great selection of insights, particularly at the Stakeholders Engagement Forum.
“This is a sunrise industry, not a sunset industry. Brick by brick, let us build a better construction sector together,” were the words of the Minister of South Africa’s National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, Mr Sihle Zikalala as he expressed government’s commitment to lead the sector to recovery, reflecting on the triumphs and challenges, including R1 billion in blended finance to accelerate growth and focusing on creating a thriving and more inclusive industry. He added that improving on learning opportunities to enter the industry, technical know-how and particularly, supporting women-owned construction firms are among the key deliverables to see the sector improve, along with promoting resilient infrastructure methods.
Among important projects like the Just Energy Transition, The Build Programme is now operational to promote large scale industry movement extending to skills- and enterprise development. Mr. Bongani Dladla, CEO of South Africa’s Construction Industry Development Board said that while we don’t have all the money to close the funding gap in the construction sector, we must still do all we can to move projects to ‘shovel ready’ status while paving the way for an industry that adequately reflects the demographics of the country.
Dr Msizi Myeza, CEO of the Council for the Built Environment, South Africa agreed that we can improve on the good work being done towards achieving a transformed industry. This includes encouraging the youth to consider a career in construction and creating real opportunities for growth.
Mr Khulekani Mathe, Deputy CEO of Business Unity South Africa reiterated how crucial it is to improve the status quo on unemployment in the country, where the construction industry could provide many jobs and contribute to GDP growth.
Mrs Petra Devereux, Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Hub Manager for the Chartered Institute of Building said the built environment’s contribution to the economy cannot be disputed. But beyond the rand value, buildings keep us safe, healthy, and serve many other practical purposes. It’s important to set the industry to global standards, prioritising and maintaining ethical, top-quality work with health and safety, and other relevant, modern methods measuring up globally, enabling Africa to keep up with trends and to deliver reliable work that will stand the test of time.
Among other speakers at the events were Dr. Nicol Chang, Technical Director at Keller on reducing carbon in geotechnical construction and Ryan Woodward, Operations Manager of CAD4ALL Institute of Applied Architecture on upskilling architecture professionals, equipping them for working in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Increasing professionalism within the industry was a definite call to action, along with fighting corruption and improving tender and job completion processes.
The Real Estate Talks were new to the programme this year, hosted by Broll Property Group, covering green innovation, technology and a range of property considerations given the current market. The winners at the Big 5 Southern Africa Construction Impact Awards celebrated while the African Smart Cities Summit delegates delved into how these innovative urban spaces can enhance quality of life. A clear message was that you can’t build a smart city without a smart grid, so priorities need to match up accordingly and all industries must work together to make smart cities a reality on the continent.
The shortage of reliable, affordable energy is among the biggest challenges with a lot of work to be done to see improvements. Integrating sustainable solutions into industry best practice is the way forward and these events served as a platform for exchanging knowledge, fostering collaboration, and promoting inclusivity and sustainability across construction and infrastructure.
“It will take time and ongoing commitment to see further positive progress but as the saying goes; if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” Behr concludes.