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Cement is an important component in the construction of properties in Ghana.
Ghana’s real estate industry has been showing lots of promise over the past decade. During that period, the number of real estate agents and developers have grown immensely, which has culminated in the significant increase in the number of properties in the country. However, the long standing dilemma ensues.
With a heavy reliance on electricity and cement, Ghana’s real estate’s backbone has been systematically susceptible to price fluctuations. This is because of the growing demand for electricity and cement by private and commercial consumers. Cement is a crucial component in the real estate industry, with 77% and 57% accounting for floor materials and outer walls of buildings in Ghana respectively. This high dependency means the fluctuating price of cement is bound to affect the price of properties concurrently.
In the December 15, 2014 issue of the Business and Financial Times (B&FT), it was reported that Ghana Cement Ltd (Ghacem) was due to see a shortfall in its production output. According to the report, the move by Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to ration power to industrial companies was set to affect its ability to produce 58,000 bags of cement.
To be fair to ECG, it is not entirely their fault, since the challenge posed at Akosombo, with only five out of six turbines working, has necessitated the need to ration power nationwide. With such a move coming into force, it would mean industrial companies will have power cuts for 48 hours while enjoying six days uninterrupted power supply. Unlike the domestic sector which would have embraced this better than their status quo, the industrial sector cannot afford to have such an experience.
With an annual growth rate of 10 – 15%, the energy sector needs much investment to curb Ghana’s perennial energy crises. It is therefore laudable that government has pledged to ensure that Ghana produces 5000 MW of electricity by 2016. That would be a remarkable achievement considering the current amount of an estimated 2800MW. It would however have to take an all-hands-on-deck approach, led primarily by government and supported by the private sector to realize this goal.
Local matertials to the rescue
With the seemingly production cut by Ghacem however, the real estate sector is likely to be affected. All is not lost however as for every problem, there is a solution. Jumia House Ghana has set its sights on improving the property market and late this year, the property expert organized a roundtable discussion concerning sustainable real estate.
The discussion made startling revelations. Of the most important was the need for Ghana to adopt local building materials. The nation is blessed with natural materials such as clay, pozzolana, timber and building lime, yet an estimated 70% of building materials are imported annually.
It is striking to note that the use of local materials is rather a cheaper option than sandcrete. For every square meter, clay bricks would cost around $300 while sandcrete (cement blocks) would cost $500. This was according to Orthner and Orthner architect, Akosua Obeng.
This is not to say sandcrete should be entirely replaced. The nation still will have to depend on this building material for surfaces such as foundations, bridges and roads. Cement would also be needed for high rise buildings and other luxurious ones. For affordable housing however, it is high time that Ghana make a more concerted effort at pushing the drive towards the adoption of local building materials.