Building Africa’s 4IR readiness

This year’s African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo, taking place from 9 to 11 June 2020 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg, will focus on transformation in the construction industry and its adaptation to the 4IR.

In this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), the theme of which was Following up on our commitments: making your future work better, President Cyril Ramaphosa provided a ray of hope to the construction industry by sharing several shovel-ready projects that are coming on stream thanks to the Infrastructure Fund implementation team. “The cranes and yellow equipment that we have longed to see across the landscape of our country will once again soon be an everyday sight.”

Added to this, he noted that the digital economy will increasingly become a driver of growth and a creator of employment. This was a re-emphasis of last year’s SONA in which he stressed the urgency of equipping the nation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the necessity to adapt to and embrace the various opportunities it presents.

“With the recent introduction of 4IR technologies, built assets are changing and impacting the entire construction value chain. In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Architectural, Civil and Construction Sciences, titled Construction 4.0: The Future of the Construction Industry in South Africa, found that adopting 4IR technology in the construction industry will not only improve the performance of the industry regarding cost and time savings, but will also create sustainable buildings.

With 4IR, the built industry has the opportunity to leapfrog to more efficient production, successful business models and competitive value chains. What all this tells me is that digitising Africa’s construction industry, from inception all the way through to facilities management, will make it more attractive to potential investors and, in turn, boost its contribution to GDP,” says Johan van Wyk, Commercial Director, African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo.

Informing and assisting the industry on how to adapt to and embrace these and other changes, will be the African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo – the global hub for the African construction industry – taking place from 9 to 11 June 2020, at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg. This year’s event will focus on transformation in the construction industry and its adaptation to the 4IR.

Thousands of built environment professionals from over 45 countries are expected to attend the expo where they will get to learn new professional skills, discover the latest products and innovations showcased by more than 250 local and international exhibitors.

One of the highlights of the event will be the Stakeholder Engagement Forum, taking place on 10 June 2020, where, under this year’s theme of Building Africa’s 4IR Readiness, some of the brightest minds will examine how the built environment will thrive in the 4IR, based on the progress thus far. These crucial discussions will not only support job creation in the sector but highlight how today’s projects should be planned, designed, operated and decommissioned. Invited to deliver the keynote address during the Host Ministerial Opening Keynote on 9 June 2020, is the Honourable Patricia De Lille, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure. Also invited to participate are Geoff Makhubo, the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg and Tasneem Motara, the MEC for Infrastructure Development and Property Management from Gauteng Provincial Government.

Aubrey Tshalata, President of the National African Federation for the Building Industry (NAFBI), says, “The African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo remains one of the most relevant Industry events as it presents a platform for industry players to convene under one roof to present new trends, engage with government and industry experts on key challenges and evaluate progress made in advancing technological innovation and transformation.”

With the President mentioning the development of a new smart-city which would be “a truly post-apartheid city that would rise to change the social and economic apartheid spatial architecture,” another drawcard will be the 4th African Smart Cities Summit, taking place 9 to 12 June.

The week-long summit has been devised in consultation with an advisory board comprised of 20 professionals from across the built environment and smart cities sector around the world. Among them are David Kramer, Deputy Director General: ICT at the Gauteng Provincial Government from South Africa; Oualid Ali, President of the Future Cities Council from Canada; Rose Moyo, Senior ICT Solution Expert at Huawei from South Africa; and Eng. John Tanui, Chief Executive Officer of Konza Technopolis Development Authority in Kenya.

The programme will include talks from high-profile industry players from across the continent. They will unpack how smarter cities can mitigate urban African challenges, provide a roadmap for the public and private sector to work together on supporting smart city transition and look to various smart city projects for lessons learnt, challenges faced and solutions developed. In addition, attendees will get to explore exhibitor demos in the Smart Cities pavilion on the expo floor, attend the Smart Architecture Night School, and visit key sites to experience smart city solutions and technologies in action. Plus, excellence in the industry will be acknowledged at a glittering awards ceremony, taking place 10 June.

“We look forward to making your future work better and to building Africa together,” concludes van Wyk.

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