Digital Construction in Africa

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Digital construction takes many forms

Construction to some is an art to others is the process of building something. It involves putting together different elements using a detailed design and plan to create a structure for a given location. Digital construction is the use and application of digital tools to improve the process of delivering and operating the built environment. The aim being to make the process more efficient and collaborative. Digital construction takes many forms, including simple tools that make communication easier and reduce travel time or the improvement of automation of a manufacturing process. Additionally, it can include advancements in plant or materials, cloud-based computing and filing systems, or software applications for use in both delivery and operation management.

Rise of BIM & new tech

In Africa, there is a rise in the use of Building Information Modelling(BIM) and new technologies in construction projects, as there is an increased need for remote collaboration between different consultants as well as increased project deliveries. However, the main challenge remains a lack of education in terms of digital construction and building information modelling for complex building projects. Furthermore, not many construction firms are willing to invest towards it despite the gains it would make.

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The least digitized industry

In many ways, digital technologies have enabled Overall, new ways of working that hold the mirror up to many of our old practices. This is particularly pronounce in the caes of building information modelling (BMI), which demands a highly collaborative culture. As a result, concepts such as big data and smart cities are emerging and therefore enabling us to make informed decisions on the operation and renewal of our built environment fromm aggregated digital information that highlights trends and statistics. 

 

Interestingly, the construction sector accounts for more than 10% of the global GDP and employs around 7% of the global workforce but remains one of the least digitized industries. Despite the complexitiy of the industry, the power of data cannot be ignored. There is need for construction companies to digitize their core business processes. This will aid greatly in providing real time information helping them make informed decisions in segments such as project control, cost and enterprise management. Companies that have adopted digitization of the engineering and construction industry have achieved productivity gains of as much as 14 to 15 percent and cost reductions of between four to six percent. thrive.

Conclusion

Some of the technologies used include drones to carry out pre-construction site surveys and site monitoring during construction. Virtual reality glasses have been deployed to visualize the designs of the structrue while under construction whereas computer vision technology has been harnessed to track

external progress on construction sites and raising alerts to site agents on safety hazards on site.

 

In conclusion, for majority of African countries striving to have reached upper middle class between 2035 to 2050, there is need to adopt modern practices that will help save on cost as well as time and ensure quality and safety standards are maintained throughout. Let us all take part in the new normal, let us talk digital construction.

About the author

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Brian Kagondu, C.Eng.
Project Consultant
Brian, a Civil Engineer with experience cutting across Civil and Structural Design. He has cross industry experience in the building and infrastructure sector in East Africa, a tech and Africa enthusiast.