Minister of Public Works at TCE

05 June 2013

Minister of Public Works announces live at the TotallyConcrete Expo he is making skills development in the construction industry his number one priority. 

Day One of The TotallyConcrete Expo a resounding success

The Sandton Convention Centre was buzzing from early morning with delegates queuing to attend the must-attend TotallyConcrete Expo, the highlight of the concrete calendar.

Delegates were spoiled for choice. Over 80 speakers from 20 African countries, 3 high-level conference tracks, over 500 delegates, over 2500 visitors and a uniquely interactive exhibition, competed for attention. “I wish I could be in three places at once” was an oft-expressed sentiment.
The day kicked off with the plenary/keynote session: “Unlocking timely infrastructure delivery in Africa.” A stellar cast of heavy-weights from government, business, the cement industry and built environment professionals came together to discuss the challenges facing South Africa and the African continent.

The Minister of Public Works, the Honourable Thembelani Thulas Nxesi, praised the TotallyConcrete Expo as a uniting force for the continent. He emphasised the role of cement in providing infrastructure to link towns and countries – and appealed for the co-operation between countries that was vital for Africa to fulfil its promise.

The dynamic keynote address, “African growth and development through the crystal ball” by Nicky Weimar, Senior Economist, Nedbank Group, was a sobering look at our economy. She examined the reasons behind the slow growth rate and suggested measures that should be taken to stimulate it. Emphasising the urgency, her parting shot was: “There is only one country in the world performing worse than South Africa – Argentina.”

PPC CEO, Ketso Gordhan joined Lafarge Mining CEO, Funani Mojono, AfriSam’s CEO, Dr Stephan Olivier and Ric Snowden of Arup South Africa to discuss the pivotal role of cement and concrete to “build the nation.” All agreed that a breakdown of trust between Government and the private sector contributed to the slow rate of infrastructure delivery and there was a strong appeal for a business CODESA where all parties could talk openly and honestly.

On the subject of corruption, the point was made that for every official accepting a bribe, there was someone in the private sector offering it. “It takes two to Tango”, the Minister said.

The quality of education was blamed for the lack of skilled artisans and the shortage of young engineers. The need mentorship was emphasised and Minister Nxesi ended with a call for retired professionals to offer their experience and skill to guide graduates.

Visitors streamed into the exhibition area and were soon engaged in lively conversations with stall holders.
At a press conference, PPC announced the launch of their Builders’ App aimed at empowering builders and ensuring that construction was made as easy as possible for companies of all sizes as well as DIY enthusiasts. Downloadable free from the PPC website, the App has a host of useful features.

Lafarge explained their new branding “Building better cities” intended to create a sense of purpose with the clear goal of contributing to infrastructure development to cope with the huge demand for housing that comes with today’s rapid urbanisation. “We will help build houses – beautiful and cost-effective”, said Funani Mojono.

The press conference closed with Ismail Carr explaining the role of The Gauteng Partnership Fund in facilitating finance for GAP housing developers.

The breakout sessions on a wide variety of concrete-related topics brought Day One to a successful conclusion.

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