Totally Concrete Expo opens with a bang

28 May 2014

Thousands of visitors streamed in to the Sandton Convention Centre to attend conference sessions, participate in free workshops, network with industry colleagues and examine the wide variety of products showcased by 170 exhibitors.

The keynote address and opening session was entitled “Accessing the African construction marketplace” and speakers and panellists were unanimous in their emphasis of the fact that Africa really is the last frontier for investment opportunities.

Their opinion was that companies not moving into this space were likely to be left behind.

Richard Tomes, MD Cement at PPC outlined the company’s aggressive moves into Africa. He noted how things had changed in Africa and how countries previously regarded as “no-go areas” were now transformed into vibrant economies ripe with opportunities.

His facts and figures made it clear that, while South Africa’s economy was almost stagnant, sub-Saharan Africa was booming. Of the top 10 developing economies in the world, seven were in Africa.

Clem Sunter, the well-known Scenario Planner, delivered the keynote address to a packed hall. His “Mind of a fox” approach to predicting future trends was, as always, hugely entertaining – and extremely stimulating.

He discussed the “flags” that signalled a changing business environment and emphasised the importance of constantly being aware of and responsive to the changing business climate.

In the African context, he described the three factors required for countries to remain in the “Premier League”:
1. Inclusive leaders – like Nelson Mandela.
2. Encouraging and nurturing the pockets of excellence that exist across the continent.
3. A balanced economy where the external and internal economies complemented each other.

Sunter also stressed the importance of entrepreneurs for a country’s success. He said that every generation produced entrepreneurs and that they should be encouraged and their efforts facilitated.

The African infrastructure leaders’ roundtable brought together a distinguished panel of experts from business and professional associations to discuss what was necessary for the private and public sectors to work together to successfully deliver much-needed infrastructure.

This thought-provoking and invigorating session was followed by the opening of the Expo floor as well as the various parallel conference sessions.

So interesting were the topics that most delegates wished they could be in three places at once!

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