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Performance Survey: How The Construction Industry Fared in 2018

A quarterly survey of the performance of the construction industry in Africa from a panel of construction industry players in various countries in Africa, reveals how the construction industry fared in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

Over the last decade, Africa has seen its ups and downs as economic fortunes wax and wane. To determine where Africa stood in 2018,a survey was carried out by (Construction Review) on over 700 participants drawn mainly from Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria in order to determine how they felt 2018 compared to 2017. Collating the information produced interesting conclusions.

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When comparing Kenya South Africa and Nigeria, Nigeria emerged as the most positive market with regards to improvement of the construction industry in 2018 over 2017. Overall 52% Nigerians polled, felt the construction industry was better or much better in the 3rd quarter compared to 42% for Kenyans while only a dismal 13% of South African respondents felt any reason to smile.

The report took a closer look at this cadre of respondents particularly those that felt there had been an unusual improvement by looking at those who felt the improvement was ‘much better’ not only ‘better’. It turns out that for Nigeria the reason was the fact that the country is emerging from a major slump after the fall of crude oil prices in the preceding years. For Kenya those seeing major improvement felt it was due to a more stable political environment in the wake of a nail gripping general election and its aftermath. For South Africa virtually no one fell into this space suggesting that the South Africans were a very dismal lot in 2018.

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Respondents were asked to categorize themselves as government, consultants, contractors or suppliers in the industry. From this it emerged that those who were  satisfied, were virtually consultants and project managers in Nigeria with no contractor or building supplier sharing the same sentiments. In Kenya those feeling that the industry had enjoyed a much better improvement than in 2017, were equally consultants, builders and suppliers of products and machinery. This could mean that in Nigeria the projects are on the drawing board and have not filtered down to actual project commencement while for Kenya this could mean these are ongoing projects.

In Nigeria 85% of respondents say the improved performance was driven by housing, while for Kenya,it stood at 52%. This means that housing was a key driver of the improved construction activity but more so in Nigeria than in Kenya.

Respondents felt that the primary reasons for this state of affairs is lack of government and private spending in the sectors coupled by cut throat competition for the few jobs available which has meant projects were virtually not profitable. The upcoming elections in Nigeria has also introduced uncertainty.

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