By Mondli Cele, CEO of Yakha
Adopting new construction technology
The construction industry has a significant role to play in South Africa, despite being one of the sectors that were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, the industry is expected to reach an estimated US$10.5 trillion by 2023 and, closer to home, is expected to grow by 6.1% in 2021 alone.
Despite these promising figures, the sector, in Africa specifically, has been slow to adopt new technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Even so, recent years have seen the introduction of construction technology start-ups across the globe to allow for safer, more efficient processes, increased productivity and improved collaboration.
But what exactly is construction tech?
At its most basic, it’s the use of innovative tools, machinery and software to simplify the various phases of a construction project. For instance, project management software has allowed construction site managers to oversee multiple facets of different projects, including the progression of each and whether or not additional hours, materials or manpower will be required. Yet, there still remains a great challenge for the local sector to harness construction tech tools. This is in addition to other challenges such as the procurement of materials, which can delay construction time for months on end.
Having identified this challenge, South African start-up Yakha provides a platform that integrates a database and marketplace for local product manufacturers and suppliers, as well as architects, construction companies, designers and subcontractors. The company’s aim is to create a supply chain that will not slow down the construction process due to material and resource constraints.
It’s ideas like this that will not only lead to transformation within the larger built environment industry but will also greatly benefit the business sector, too.
An integrated, digital future
There are concerns that advancements such as these will negatively affect the economy and, more importantly, unemployment. Yet, as the world and South Africa moves towards a more integrated, digital future, it’s only fitting that industries that contribute to the fiscus follow suit. Yakha’s platform, for example, is likely to decrease the delays prevalent in construction while further allowing companies to use more locally produced supplies. This, in turn, will lead to increased job opportunities within the larger industry, as well as provide avenues for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to enter the fray and potentially gain a competitive advantage, levelling opportunities across the built environment sector.
It’s clear that construction in South Africa has a promising future. And embracing 4IR technologies will only help to further propel it to greater heights.
*Yakha is an online construction tech start-up aimed at simplifying the procurement process of African architecture, construction and furniture products through an e-commerce B2B marketplace designed for the industry: yakha.co