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Public Works Principal Secretary Prof. Paul Maringa on Wednesday, 9th November officially opened the International Construction Research Conference and Exhibition (ICoRCE) at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre. Prof. Maringa was representing the Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretrary Mr. James Macharia.
ICORCE is the biggest construction research conference and exhibition in Africa, with the aim of nurturing and enhancing accelerated growth of the construction industry. It provides a critical platform for the dissemination of construction research, which assists with the formulation of industry policies, making Kenya a model construction business hub in the region and beyond. This year’s conference theme was ‘harnessing the potential of the legal and institutional framework for inclusive and sustainable growth in the construction industry.’
In attendance at the opening ceremony was the Solicitor General, Mr. Kennedy Ogeto, and various heads of state agencies as well as representatives from the diplomatic and business community.
Speaking at the ceremony, Prof. Maringa noted that it was a critical time of growth for the country’s economy. “Kenya’s slot in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report 2019 is at an impressive 61, up 19 spots from last year. The country’s economy is predicted to be the largest growing in Africa in a few short years, overtaking South Africa, Mauritius and Rwanda. This event is critical to the industry calendar, allowing us to highlight innovative solutions to existing gaps which will continue to propel the economy even higher.” He added that there was need for an adequate legal framework to support the Big Four Agenda, especially when it came to housing. “The Ministry through the State Department of Housing is crafting a development framework where we will seek a delegated authority to facilitate the required statutory approvals.”
Mr. Ogeto, who made the keynote presentation at the ceremony, spoke on how to nurture fruitful synergies in enforcing the construction laws in Kenya. “At the global level, the construction industry is indispensable to Kenya’s and indeed Africa’s attainment of Sustainable Development Goals. The structural collapses unfortunately witnessed in the country and the ongoing demolitions both point to a failure in the enforcement of the available legal framework. The challenges we are experiencing today are not because of a legal lacuna; they are, by and large, because of non-enforcement and a lack of coordination between relevant stakeholders.” The Solicitor General continues, “This is why today I find it befitting that my main task will be to review the law with a view to suggesting ways through which we can synergise efforts between various stakeholders in the industries to both avert and alleviate the present challenges”. (Read the Solicitor General’s full speech HERE).
ICORCE’s history dates back to 2014, when construction industry stakeholders sat and came up with the National Construction Research Agenda (NaCRA), a document detailing 17 key research areas to be executed, seeking to provide solutions to challenges that plague the industry, referred to as the 6 Ms: Money, Methods, Machines, Materials, Manpower and Markets. ICORCE was an outcome of the agenda.
National Construction Authority Vice Chair Prof. Godrick Bulitia spoke on the ongoing Construction Industry Policy that the Authority has been charged with spearheading. “The dynamic nature of our industry means that we will continue to deal with emerging challenges, which is why we are now developing the policy, an an overarching reference point that will inform, guide and serve as a blueprint for the achievement of the sector’s objectives and realization of the President’s Big Four Agenda and the Vision 2030. The process has been a consultative effort with various industry stakeholders in order to offer comprehensive and exhaustive solutions to the industry’s multi-faceted, multi-dimensional problems.” (Read Prof. Bulitia’s full speech HERE)
The agenda for the Policy was set after the 2016 ICoRCE Conference and its formulation was instigated by the different challenges facing the industry such as construction works with compromised quality and safety, inadequate funding for expansion, lack of access to plant equipment and machinery, insufficient dissemination of skills to build capacity among the sectors players, procurement bottlenecks, fierce competition from international service providers and corruption among others. The Policy aims at addressing thematic areas that will include business development, quality assurance, materials and technology, sustainability, capacity building, research, ethics and the legal framework NCA Executive Director Eng. Maurice Akech, noting that this was the first ICORCE in the new biennial format, highlighted the new additional side events to be held during the conference. “For the first time during ICORCE, we will hold the Construction Industry Business Forum, a forum targeting business persons and investors in the industry, aimed at generating conversation on opportunities, as well as fostering progressive partnerships through prescheduled business to business meetings. The forum will allow participants to expose their brands, brainstorm on challenges and possible solutions as well as generate constructive business leads, both locally and internationally.”
He continued, “Additionally, we also have the Kenya Government Pavilion, a mini exhibition featuring key state agencies involved in the construction industry value chain. The purpose of the Pavilion is to assist both existing and potential investors to navigate their way through the construction industry’s statutory and regulatory requirements. We are pleased to host the Office of the Attorney General, the National Environment Management Authority, the Kenya Bureau of Standards, the Energy Regulation Commission, the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, the State Departments of Housing, Public Works, Immigration and many more.”
2018 is the second year that ICORCE is partnering with the Big Five Construct East Africa, a central meeting place for global manufacturers to network, do business and gain industry insight. Products at the event will be showcased across five dedicated product sectors bringing together the right buyers and sellers. The exhibition is expected to attract 8,000 visitors, with exhibitors from 22 countries.