With a fast-growing population and rapid urbanization process, many African countries now face increasing pressure to provide adequate housing for their citizens.
Over the past 10 years since the end of the civil war in Liberia, the country has been vigorously developing its infrastructure, attracting foreign investment, developing production and aiming to achieve long-term peace and stability in order to revitalize the economy and improve livelihoods. As one of the important components in infrastructure construction, the development of civil, commercial and industrial buildings and other projects are essential to improve livelihoods and stimulate economic development. However, the lack of local construction materials and a small manufacturing sector, with only one cement factory in Liberia, have impacted infrastructure development.
Towards a Solution
To address these obstacles and improve the status of Liberian construction, China Africa Business Council (CABC), together with Hengtong Lux Wood, has designed an affordable housing construction scheme. As the implementing unit, Hengtong Lux Wood counts on considerable experience in building materials management and construction. The company also provides one-stop services, including architectural design, building material production, centralized procurement, logistics and transportation, as well as on-site technical training. Given the positioning of low-cost housing in Liberia, Hengtong launched an innovative prefabricated building structure. The main components, such as walls, floor slabs, windows, doors and structures, are prefabricated at the factory. After they are transported to the site, they are assembled quickly, based on drawings. In the CABC-supported programme, Hengtong Lux Wood has promoted prefabricated housing in Liberia in accordance with these three steps:
- On-site research on prefabricated housing in Liberia is carried out to identify feasible technologies for prefabricated homes in the country;
- Demonstration and capacity-building activities are held in Monrovia using existing prefab projects; and
- Experience-sharing and workshops for housing officials and technicians are organized in Liberia and China for technical exchanges.
Throughout the project, capacity-building workshops were provided to local workers, who were taught building methods and skills through demonstrations of prototypes. The training focused on construction methods, structural stability, waterproofing, moisture-proofing and anti-corrosion treatments.
The project also organized a conference, ”Experience Promotion and Technical Workshop of Low-Cost and Rapid Building in Liberia”, attended by government officials, construction experts and other institutions to promote prefabricated housing methods. Through in-depth discussions in the workshop and at site visits, the local social security bureau became extremely interested in such houses and expressed its willingness to sign a cooperation framework agreement with the company to jointly develop low-cost houses for local people. The Hengtong Lux Wood assembly process does not require heavy equipment and is free from weather constraints. Fifty per cent less time is needed for assembly and total costs are 30 per cent lower than for traditional construction. For African countries such as Liberia, with a prolonged rainy seasons, this technology can greatly reduce the construction period and cut costs, easing pressure on housing demand for the long-term.
The project highlights the advantages of affordable assembly-type buildings in terms of construction speed, comfort, safety, economy and practicality, which constitutes a new construction technology system that is suitable for Liberia and meets the basic demand of low-income groups both there and in neighbouring African countries. More importantly, the programme makes a positive contribution to Liberia’s economic development and livelihood improvement. During project implementation, the company took the lead in organizing and coordinating the participation of more than 200 people specialized in design, production, procurement, logistics and construction, among other trades. Furthermore, it created more than 300 jobs for Liberians in fields such as construction, retail, catering and service industries, increasing their average income by over 30 per cent.
Sustainable Development Goal target(s): 1.1, 9.1, 9.a
Name: Mr. Bai Xiaofeng, China-Africa Business Council
Countries/ territories involved: China, Liberia
Supported by: China-Africa Business Council
Implementing entities: Hengtong Innovation Lux Wood Technology Co., Ltd.
Project period: 2017 – 2018
URL of the practice: http://en.cabc.org.cn