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11 September 2017

MBSA press release

PPC Marketing: MBSA press release
Future cities must be built by current generations
As real employment continues contracting in South Africa, its impact is being felt among our
the most vulnerable in our communities: our women and youth. With Africa’s urban
population growing at a rate of 3.5% per annum and 65% of growth happening in smaller
cities and urban areas, local similarities are adding to this pressure. Given that the median
age of African cities less than 20 years old, Rajesh Harripersadh, PPC Key Accounts
Manager, notes that the future of our country and continent is critically linked to the success
of our cities. This has to start with their infrastructure and development – meaning that the
construction value chain from material manufacturers and suppliers all the way through to
engineers and construction teams have to gear to include the youth well into the future. The
process has to begin now at a very practical level, ensuring active skills and knowledge
transfer – something that was discussed at this year’s Master Builders South Africa (MBSA)
Conference currently underway in Cape Town.
Africa is set to reach its demographic dividend by 2050 – creating a massive challenge or
opportunity for cities across the continent. For countries to capitalise on and realise this
opportunity however, they cannot plan and execute as they have in the past.
“Changes in how we live, work and interact in cities, coupled with space and sustainability
constraints and mobility and technology mean that urban areas of the future cannot
necessarily be modelled on cities of the past,” explains Harripersadh. “Design and space
planning must simultaneously boost business; enable convenience and encourage suburban
activity; and bring work closer to home – mitigating the time and cost of travel. They must
also reduce land pressure in existing towns and cities so as to ensure long-term
sustainability.” Linked to all of this is an additional element of social consciousness:
integration and functionality must enable communities to thrive and address the poverty that
is becoming systemic in our urban areas.
Designing and building our cities of the future therefore has to be done in partnership not
only with Government, but also with the current generation: the custodians of these spaces
in the future to come. “This requires a diametric shift in approach from most contributors in
the current infrastructure and construction value chain,” notes Harripersadh. “Young people
have to be empowered with the skills and real-life experience they need to build their cities
of the future. As such, we have to actively change the current demographic of contractors
and suppliers to be more inclusive and, correspondingly, sustainable.”
He adds that the massive scale of development needed means that there is room for
everyone to contribute – as opposed to compete – to create fully functional representative
urban areas that meet integrated needs. “Because capital start-up costs in construction and
material manufacturing remain prohibitive for many entrepreneurs, current players and
Government need to work harder to not only provide finance options, but also then assist
with real skills transfer. Bursaries can often prove a viable point of entry in terms of skills
transfer – as we’ve seen across the continent at our PPC operations.”
Access to quality building supplies is also an issue for many smaller contractors. “Again
here, initiatives like our Builder’s Box in Soweto and our latest PPC container in Ulundi –
where building SMEs can access building materials in their communities saving time and
transport costs – can challenge the status quo, and create real opportunities to grow and
compete. Sustainable organic growth of small-scale contractors is critical for them to be able
to access larger opportunities in the long-term, which we need them to do in order to
With Gauteng alone currently planning vast new human settlements; healthcare, education
and recreation facilities; and how best to integrate land-use for residential, commercial and
industrial purposes, the future vision is a compelling one – if players start to actively
transform value chains.
Harripersadh says that these are some of the conversations PPC is looking to spearhead
beyond this year’s recently held Master Builders Conference. “Young city dwellers need to
be part of the revolution most of them are seeking. They need to be empowered to take
advantage of development opportunities and shape the cities and urban areas they live and
work in. As an industry, it’s up to us to drive this change. Only then will we ensure that future
cities are sustainable spaces where all of our communities can thrive,” he concludes.