HYDRAFORM ALTERNATE BUILDING TECHNOLOGY CONTINUES TO OPEN POSSIBILITIES IN AFRICA
[Johannesburg, 8 January 2018]: At the recently-completed Hydraform Training Academy – attended by a total 26 participants from 10 African countries – partakers were highly thrilled by the entrepreneurial prospects offered by the Hydraform block making technology in their respective countries, as well as the ability of this technology to help close the housing gap in many of the African communities.
Hydraform, a leading alternative building technology provider, recently held its famous Hydraform Training Academy at its Boksburg, South Africa headquarters. Held from November 6-10, the course attracted a lot of interest from participants all over Africa. It eventually accommodated a total of 26 participants from across 10 African countries – including South Africa, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Uganda, Senegal, Botswana, Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria.
The Hydraform Training Academy focuses on the core elements of block making, as well as imparting crucial knowledge on how to manage a successful block making business. “The Hydraform interlocking block technology course places particular emphasis on soil-cement technology and all the key components for successful block making,” says Ryno Saayman, marketing coordinator at Hydraform. “The comprehensive course handles all the aspects of the Hydraform system – all the way from machine setup through to construction.” On completion of the programme, participants will be equipped with comprehensive knowledge of the system and the application thereof.
According to Saayman, the recently-completed November intake had a variety of participants, including architects, engineers and existing business owners, but it was the potential construction entrepreneurs looking to break into the market who represented a fair share of this intake’s total complement.
Breaking new ground
Jean-Paul Aganze, a building engineer who currently works for a large telecoms company in the DRC, was contemplating his opportunities of self-employment, and views the Hydraform block making technology as his golden ticket to starting his own block making business in Kinshasa, the DRC capital. Having initially visited Hydraform in December 2016, he was immediately impressed by the value offering of the Hydraform block making technology, and decided to enrol for the training academy to understand more about the technology.
Aganze notes that the DRC is such a vast country with a huge population of about 79 million inhabitants, but the housing backlog is a reality the country has been grappling with for many years. With an urbanisation rate of about 4,37%, the demand for affordable housing will remain strong well into the future. Aganze believes that while the Hydraform block making technology offers him an opportunity, it equally offers cost effective alternative building solutions to the DRC population at large. “This is a big opportunity for me to start my own business, but this also offers many African governments an opportunity to close the housing and social infrastructure gap.”
Bear in mind that a Hydraform interlocking block is a walling material made of merely three inputs, namely soil that can be sourced on site, a small amount of cement (about 10%) and water.
Aganze says this directly speaks to the plight of the poor people in many African countries. For example, the DRC has a limited housing finance sector. The mortgage market does not meet the breadth of the population and most households still finance their housing independently with either savings or non-mortgage credit. The lowest recorded interest rate in the DRC is 15%, as of September 2016, and requires at least a 20% down payment. The cheapest newly-built house by a developer, as recorded by the Centre of Affordable Housing in Africa, is US$40 000, which is unaffordable to most of the population. Through Hydraform technology, this is a market where Aganze sees a lot of opportunity to offer cost effective building solutions.
The same view is shared by Onedy Kibazola Nitu, who currently works for a large mining conglomerate in the DRC, but is seeking to make his own big break into the block making business. Nitu comes from Lubumbashi, the second-largest city in the DRC with a population of about 2 million people. He is looking to establish his own blockmaking business in the Katanga region where most mining companies operating in the region have a social responsibility to develop the communities they operate in, through the development of houses, hospitals and schools. He believes there are massive prospects to offer cost effective building solutions through Hydraform technology.
“We actually have correct material in the region with a lot of clay at our disposal. The beauty of the Hydraform technology is that you can take the machines anywhere and make use of the in-situ material that is available on the site. You don’t have to import costly material to your site, which also makes it very cost-effective for such poor communities in my area,” says Nitu.
He also says conventional brick making practices have led to massive deforestation in the area because of the need to burn bricks, and Hydraform technology will help address this environmental hazard.
Existing businesses seek expansion
Meanwhile, existing Hydraform machine owners were also part of the training academy as they sought to sharpen their technical and business acumen. Bolade Apampa, an architect at Shola Wunmi Enterprises in Nigeria, says his company has been on a relentless campaign to educate local communities in Lagos about the benefits of the Hydraform solution. The company already owns two M7M1 machines and is looking to expand its fleet as its business continues to grow.
“The Hydraform Training Academy has given me a broader view of the whole building value chain and the possibilities that lie ahead,” says Apampa. “This is much needed technology in a country such as Nigeria. Previously, the emphasis has been on the northern parts of the country, mostly Abuja, but there is real need across Nigeria at large, especially in areas such as Lagos with a large population in need of housing.”
Abdeljalil Aainani, project manager – Building at ACOME, an Ivory Coast-based company, says his company already owns seven Hydraform machines, comprising six M7 units and one M7MI Super. There has been a large acceptance of its blocks in the country and the company is aiming for a 60% share of the building market in Ivory Coast.
A major competitive edge for ACOME is that Hydraform interlocking blocks are famous for their cost efficiency, saving the cost of walling by about 50% compared with conventional blocks found in Ivory Coast. This is largely due to the fact that Hydraform’s technology saves on mortar and plaster cost, as no mortar is used to bond the blocks together. The blocks have tongue and groove joints that form interlocking masonry wall. When it comes to plaster you also save since the interlocking wall doesn’t have big holes that need to be covered with mortar when plastering.
“This is appropriate technology for Africa. Sourcing material from commercial suppliers can be very costly. Using just soil, the technology allows for easy building, especially in non-urban spaces,” says Aainani. ACOME recently used Hydraform blocks to build its new 5 000 m² headquarters in Ivory Coast, and the company plans to expand its business through acquiring several other machines in the near future.
Hydraform’s mission is to innovate, partner, train and build with its stakeholders in the developing world and successful training sessions like the Academy held in November demonstrate why it remains the leading alternative technology partner for serious businessmen and women across the continent. “As we celebrate our 30-year anniversary in 2018, we look forward to continuing to breaking new ground and partnering with our customers for a prosperous Africa.”
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