BusinessDay

Lafarge’s Concrete Ideas Series: A catalyst of Nigeria’s construction industry?

The construction industry is very crucial for national development and to the economy of Nigeria as a developing nation. It provides the driving force necessary for either sustaining a buoyant economy or reviving a depressed economy. Its successful operation in any economy has a great impact on other sectors of the economy.

Many developed countries have successfully revived their national economies by maintaining high levels of activity in the construction industry. Construction, globally contributes between 2 to 10 percent of the GDP of nations, more in developed nations than in developing nations.

However, in Nigeria, the contribution of the construction industry to the country’s GDP and employment is still very low. The construction industry is largely underdeveloped with huge potential untapped.

There is a strategic need for clear-cut policies to improve sustainable construction practices within the Nigerian construction industry. This will in turn set a high standard and promote the practice of sustainable construction in the country.

Thankfully, the introduction of the Concrete Ideas Series by building solutions company, Lafarge Africa, to serve as a platform for deliberation on issues, policies and developments shaping Nigeria’s construction, infrastructure and the housing sector has been a welcome relief.

With Concrete Ideas, Lafarge has brought a deep understanding of global best practices to help grow the industry. The building solutions company is leading this collaborative effort for the benefit of the Nigerian construction industry.

Since its launch in October 2020, Concrete Ideas have become not only a high-profile platform for the discussion of construction and real estate sector policies but also deliberations on broader public policy problems. The platform brings together a diverse community of experts from the public and private sectors to promote and accelerate an inclusive understanding of priorities and challenges facing the industry.

This explains why the concrete ideas platform is gradually becoming a catalyst for the attainment of sustainable change, continuous improvement and commercial success within the sector. It is unlocking new and innovative ways to generate the best policy ideas and solutions to grow the industry.

The potential for this to be transformational to the sector is enormous, however, it will take more than dialogues and collaborative efforts to deliver sustainable, positive change in the Construction Sector – stakeholders, and in particular, the government must play their part in translating these recommendations into real-time economic policy aimed at tapping the vast potentials of the industry, as has been done in many countries.

Read also: Lafarge Africa, Sanwo-Olu, others to examine real estate sector

To enable this transition, further actions are necessary on the part of the government, regulatory bodies and others to establish the ideas proffered and also ensure their implementation throughout the construction industry in Nigeria. We must align and scale efforts across private and public sectors to help nurture and consolidate these leading industry strategies and multi-stakeholder coalition ideas, and incubate these industry-driven initiatives to catalyze the transformation of the construction industry at large.

Lafarge’s Concrete Ideas is already making great progress towards this target, as recommendations from previous editions are being put together as a blueprint to accelerate the growth of the sector. This I believe will help to improve the delivery of Nigeria’s ambitious infrastructure plans, enabling the government to become more innovative and for the ideas to scale to projects across the whole sector.

After the inaugural session with the theme: “Public-private Partnership Approaches to Rapidly Upscaling Nigeria’s Economy,” the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing implemented the key recommendation of the Highways Development Management Initiative (HDMI) to attract the participation of the private sector in the development of the Infrastructure Segment.

Also, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN) mandated professional bodies in the Built environment to develop a manual that will complement the Nigeria Industrial Standard on Cement, NIS444:1 (2003) which was part of the outcomes of the second session with the theme – ‘Addressing the Root Cause of Building Collapse in Nigeria.’

At the third edition; New Solutions for Nigeria’s Urban Housing, the Honourable Minister for Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, suggested that subsequent editions should explore the many interconnected policy issues surrounding urban regeneration.

The fourth edition focused on PPPs in Urban Regeneration: Global Best Practices, Nigerian Opportunities, where thought leaders identified participative co-production as the key to successful urban regeneration in the country.

Lafarge Africa has concluded plans for the fifth edition of its public policy thought-leadership series, on June 28, 2022. For a company to be at the forefront of contributing to the improvement of society to deliver these outcomes, the government and key stakeholders must get in the habit of both asking for and valuing them. Only then will the built and construction industry in Nigeria be able to transform into a more sustainable, profitable and attractive industry with an improved impact on society.

Ajiboye, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos

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