Kenya Vision 2030 has been a powerful catalyst for growth
The digitization of the construction industry will accelerate growth exponentially. A change of mind is needed
By Eduardt Ruhling. New South Energy, Nairobi
The Kenya Vision 2030 project which was launched to transform Kenya into a newly industrialized middle income country has been a powerful catalyst for development in this East African country. Launched in 2008 by President Mwai Kibaki, the key objective underlying this visionary project was to provide a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment.
Through this far-sighted initiative, Kenya has seen tremendous infrastructure growth that will be of great benefit to the nation for decades to come. While trade and industry previously relied solely on road transport, the SGR railway line is now available for passengers and freight, connecting Mombasa to Nairobi and now extending to Naivasha.
Other notable developments include the Thika Highway which has reduced transport costs and improved accessibility, connecting Kenya with Ethiopia and Tanzania to the north and south; commissioning of the Kisumu oil jetty; the launch of the Madaraka Express; the modernization of Isiolo airport and the creation of the eCitizen portal, which now offers 197 public services online. GDP has increased and the country now uses around 85% renewable energy in its energy consumption, a remarkable figure.
There is no doubt that great strides have been made and that the continuation of this trajectory will be very helpful for Kenya to become a force to be reckoned with on the continent and in the world. However, for this progress to continue, the development approach must modernize alongside global standards.
Kenya’s construction industry is still largely paper-based. The outdated approach that is used to communicate with investors, suppliers and between team members on development and engineering projects is a barrier to progress. This obstacle makes the construction industry extremely cumbersome and administratively slow. In addition, it exacerbates the skills shortage in the country and puts off young job seekers.
The technological developments of the last decade have flourished to the point that there is an abundance of software and digital tools available to accelerate and streamline engineering, procurement and construction processes around the world. From cost estimation to takeoff measurement, accounting, project monitoring, material management, customer reporting, there are many technology accelerators available to simplify and streamline all stages of the life cycle of project management. Kenya is in a privileged position to take advantage of it.
There is a whole generation of young and dynamic Kenyan graduates looking to embark on a mobile, upward career in Kenya’s new economy. However, the outdated way the construction industry currently operates is often seen as unattractive. Imagine the boost the economy would receive if even 10% of qualified graduates chose to pursue a career in engineering or construction. Because people need to be taught construction skills, it is in the country’s interest to teach them the digital approach.
The digitization of the construction industry will not only serve to attract the young talent it desperately needs. It will also modernize the industry in a way that will accelerate development by creating efficiency gains. Plus, it will allow for faster turnaround times, less waste, more accountability, and make projects much easier to track. Simpler and more accurate real-time reporting to investors will result in investments considered less risky and, therefore, more attractive.
Construction sites are known to be potentially dangerous workplaces, another barrier to talent retention. Using digital tools to ensure health and safety measures are in place will significantly reduce the risk of injury.
Innovation should not only be encouraged from the outside. It is essential that the construction industry begins to integrate innovation into itself, so that innovation can continue. For that, a change of mentality is necessary. The focus needs to shift from “what do we need to build?” “To” how can we build it better, smarter, more simply and more optimally? ”
It’s time for the leaders of the construction industry to step out of the proverbial comfort zone and adopt more progressive habits. A new mindset focused on working more effectively will benefit the whole country and allow Kenya to take its rightful place as an African power in the decade to come.
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