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How Lafarge’s Concrete Ideas is shaping the construction industry’s policy thrusts

The focus of the third edition of the Lafarge Africa concrete idea series is New Solutions for Nigeria’s Urban Housing. The webinar will be held in July 2021, and the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN has been invited to lead the conversation as the Special Guest of Honour.

The Concrete Ideas initiative is a brainchild of Lafarge Africa Plc, introduced eight months ago to serve as a quarterly platform by the company for strategic discussions of critical and topical issues in the construction industry and other sections of its value chain.

The platform embodies all Lafarge Africa’s thought leadership interventions and has become a catalyst for the attainment of sustainable change, continuous improvement, and commercial success within the sector.

Concrete Ideas considers discussions around construction, operations, health and safety, marketing, sustainability in manufacturing, new product development, and people management.

The concrete ideas webinar series was initiated by the Communications, Public Affairs & Sustainability function of Lafarge Africa under the leadership of Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, the Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainability Development Director, as part of corporate initiatives to integrate comprehensive sustainability targets and programmes in line with the Sustainability Development Goals into its overall business strategies and corporate responsibility programmes. This underscores the company’s commitment to build a world that is greener, smarter and works for all.

A DELVE INTO THE ARCHIVES

Kick-starting with an inaugural theme: ‘Public and Private Sector Partnership Approaches To Rapidly Upscale the Nigerian Economic Infrastructures’, the virtual event was held on October 13, 2020, and chaired by the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, and moderated by Mr Frank Aigbogun, Publisher /Co-Founder, Business Day Newspaper. The session had the following as Thought Leaders: Miljan Gutovic, Head of MEA LafargeHolcim; Bismarck Rewane, CEO, Financial Derivative Co. Ltd; Alhaji Lamis Dikko, Chairman, The Infrastructure Bank, and Mobolaji Balogun, CEO, ChapelHill Denham.

They commended Lafarge for the initiative and noted that the conversation was topical and timely, giving the fact that Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa. They equally noted that with an over 200 million population and still growing, the country is really in need of infrastructure projects that will make the economy and the citizens prosper.

Read also: Lafarge Africa redeems its matured N33.6bn bond

The chairman of Lafarge Africa, Plc, Mr Adebode Adefioye, who set the tone for the discussion that was anchored around the impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy, and how to chart a new course to rebuild it, said: “It is people that progress the society, and we really can make things happen through cooperation.”

Mr Khaled El Dokani, the Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge Africa Plc, reaffirmed the company’s commitment to contributing to rebuilding the country, adding: “This platform will no doubt serve that purpose.”

In the second edition of the Concrete Ideas series, the conversation moved to: ‘ Addressing the Root Cause of Building Collapse in Nigeria.’

This time, the webinar was chaired by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite. The Thought Leaders who are leading experts in the public and private sector were Engr. Joseph Makoju, the Chairman of Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, CMAN., Mallam Farouk Salim, the Director-General, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON)., Dr Bola Onigbogi, President of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB); Eng. Ali Rabiu, President of the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria ( COREN); Dr Kehinde Osifila, President of Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NISE), as well as Michael Scharpf, Head Sustainable Construction, LafargeHolcim.

At the event moderated by Dr Ogho Okiti, the Managing Director of BusinessDay Media, Mr Adebode Adefioye, Chairman, Lafarge Africa Plc, re-emphasized that the Concrete Ideas initiative was borne out of the company’s commitment to driving growth and employment in the construction industry. It was on this premise that formidable thought leaders in diverse fields were brought together to address topical issues and proffer workable solutions to address the challenge.

He remarked: “At Lafarge Africa, our goal is to build for the country, and the future generations. As a member of the LafargeHolcim group, we are reinventing how the world builds by shaping the world that is greener, smarter, and works for all. Our commitment to sustainability is at the core of our operations and we believe in building a world that works for the people and the planet.”

He disclosed that in efforts to address the issue, Lafarge has trained 5,000 artisans (bricklayers, block moulders, and onsite workers) on impact-building skills to ensure adherence to safety standards in construction.

“We equally develop guidelines on the latest health and safety procedures in construction, and I believe that more can still be done across the various segments of the construction industry “, he added.

IMPACT OF THE CONCRETE IDEAS SERIES

The Concrete Ideas series continues to attract key players within the industry and their recommendations are being put together as a blueprint to accelerate the growth of the sector.

These recommendations are not just made but translated into real-time actions.

· For instance, at the inaugural edition of the forum chaired by the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babajide Raji Fashola, SAN, he advocated that a special amount from the government’s revenues should be invested in infrastructure growth.

· Consequently, after the first series on Private sector participation in infrastructure development, the federal government in partnership with the private sector announced the establishment of an Infrastructures company called INFRACO, with an initial seed capital of N1 trillion. Bloomberg reported that the fund is expected to grow to N15 trillion over time and that it is for roads, rail, and power projects.

· Further to that, the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing has implemented the Highways Development Management Initiative (HDMI) to attract the participation of the private sector in the development of the Infrastructure Segment.

· Last year, 2020, the National Economic Council, approved the construction of 300,000 Mass Housing Units in all the states of the federation including the FCT. The project which detailed an average of 10,000 Homes in each state will provide at least 1.5 million homes for Nigerian families.

· Also, after the second series on Building Collapse, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN) mandated some professional bodies in the Built environment to develop a manual that will complement the Nigeria Industrial Standard on Cement, NIS444:1 (2003). The goal of this manual is to deepen the understanding of how to use cement and concrete by Nigerian Professionals.

As Lafarge concludes on planning for the next edition Concrete Ideas: 3, on July 9, 2021, it is not an overemphasis to say that the quarterly series is gradually entrenching itself as a formidable platform for the discussion of salient issues that are critical to the building and construction industry in Nigeria.

In the words of the company’s Chairman, Prince Adebode Adefioye, this shows that the government is listening to the conversation, as some inputs from the stakeholders are being made into its economic policies to drive growth.

Lafarge Africa Plc, a leading Sub-Saharan Africa building solutions company is a member of LafargeHolcim, a world leader in building solutions accelerating our world’s green transformation. Lafarge Africa is actively participating in the urbanization and economic growth of Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa. As the world’s global leader in building solutions, LafargeHolcim is reinventing how the world builds to make it greener and smarter for all. On its way to becoming a net-zero company, LafargeHolcim offers global solutions such as ECOPact, enabling carbon-neutral construction and Firestone roofing systems for higher energy efficiency in buildings. With its circular business model, the company is a global leader in recycling waste as a source of energy and raw materials through products like Susteno, its leading circular cement. LafargeHolcim’s 70,000 employees are committed to improving quality of life across more than 70 markets through its various business segments.

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