Gov’t ponders solving construction sector challenges to achieve middle-income target

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The government official urged on Friday that solving challenges, which choked the growth of the construction sector, is very vital to achieve Ethiopia’s middle income target by 2030.

Engineer Wondimu Seta, State Minister of Urban and Infrastructure, argues that all sectors demand the construction sector to achieve development goals. “Therefore solving the challenges in the construction sector will have a significant slice in achieving Ethiopia’s middle income target by 2030.”

Construction of infrastructures such as potable water facilities and health institutions to mention a few need partnerships to be achieved, he says.

He presented sector’s challenges during a panel discussion focused on “Construction Sector’s Contribution to the National Economy: Challenges and Opportunities” organized by Addis Abeba Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (AACCSA).

Most mega projects are managed by foreign contractors. “The role of most local contractors is not more than excavation of soil,” as Wondimu puts it. “There’re even tendencies of pushing local contractors out of market.”

Lack of working in synergy with other sectors, unholy alliance among clients, contractors and consultants characterized by being jealousy with each other, overcharged projects but with poor quality outputs, and shortage of construction inputs are some of the challenges mentioned by Engineer Wondimu.

He said that the maximum lifespan of some contractors is 10 years. “Some contractors even leave the market in a free fall — without any chance of revival,” he added.

More than 45,000 students, who studied construction-related fields, are graduating from higher learning institutions in every year. Lack of quality of education however is posing a challenge. The State Minister asked how many of these students are able to craft construction proposals.

Ethiopia spends 35% of its foreign currency to import construction materials. Shortage of construction inputs and soaring price locally has too been hampering sector’s growth.

Wondimu raised that cement per capita consumption of Ethiopia should be 500 kg/annum. However, the per capita consumption is stood at 75 kg/annum.

Problems pertaining to logistics as well as lack of research and development are also testing the sector. Meanwhile, Yohannes W/Gebriel, Director of Arbitration Institute at AACCSA on his part stated that lack of resolving construction-related conflicts as the forefront challenge in the sector.

Engineer Hagos Abdi, another presenter, who represented Habcon Consult, explained that the abnormal tender price is among sector’s debacles.

Revision of the education curriculum in such a way raising the quality of education, enhancing partnerships among key stakeholders in the sector, rewarding the best performers of the sector, and prioritizing construction as the most important sector of the economy are suggested by Wondimu as way outs to solve the above mentioned conundrums’.

Meeting attendees also stress the need to establish Construction Sector Council that will be in charge of overseeing construction activities.

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