The Ghana Real Estates Development Association (GREDA) with some 250 builders across the country is upbeat about switching from building materials made from imported products to locally available and manufactured raw materials.
They want government to play a leading role in providing legislation, financial incentives, and creating the necessary public awareness for a change in the current building culture, which sees the use of local materials as a practice of ‘the unenlightened’ in villages.
The Association said it had commenced engagement with government, to encourage the usage of local building materials for all government projects.
President of GREDA , Mr Patrick Ebo Bonful told this paper “we think the way to go around the problem is to start using locally manufactured materials; we are advocating for government to use bricks and other local materials so that Ghanaians will buy into it and then it will catch on.”
According to GREDA, it was not in the national interest to be import about 80 per cent of construction and building materials at the expense of locally procured or manufactured materials.
Compressed earth blocks, burnt bricks, laterite, bamboo, coconut fibre, and wooden shingles, among others, would reduce the number of cement bags that could be used in putting up buildings.
Mr Bonful explained that with the hydraform brick and block system, “you can build a whole house without pillars; such buildings rise faster and are stronger than existing buildings from imported materials.”
He however lamented the extremely slow pace of acceptability of such technologies by Ghanaians at a time such cost efficient ways of building were in vogue across the rest of the world.
“A few people in Ghana have used that method and built complete houses without iron rods,” Mr Bonful told this paper.
According to the GREDA President, “bricks are made from laterite and we have laterite naturally occurring in Ghana however those who produce bricks in the country only do to meet demand because Ghanaians have not yet bought into the new technology.”
Businesses can go into production of refined laterite
The GREDA boss was confident that with time Ghanaian businesses could go into the refining of raw laterite.
“When we get the laterite we need to take out a lot of the stones and get it into the powdered form before we get the bricks,” Mr Bonful submitted.
Local content advocacy gets more support
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Meqasa, a residential and commercial company that links developers to buyers, Mr Kelvin Nyame switching to the use of local raw materials would be a perfect option to cut down cost.
He however called for increased research to ascertain the viability of using local materials.
“To reduce the cost of housing, it would be prudent to find local creative ways of building affordable houses for the citizenry by adopting a modern standardised structure without sliding windows, pops, and bigger compounds among others,” he explained.
Prospects in Ghana’s housing and construction sector are fading as the industry is faced with astronomical increases in the prices of building materials culminating in rising cost of operations with the attendant high rents charged.
Business Finder’s checks in the market revealed the following:
Iron rods up 65% in 6 months
Business Finder’s checks revealed that a tonne of iron rods which sold at GH¢3,300 in November 2020, was priced at GH¢5,450 in April 2021, representing an increment of 65 per cent ( GH¢2,150 ) within the six month period.
Cement, wood and paint prices up
Prices of cement moved from GH¢37 back in Novemebr 2020 to GH¢48 in April 2021. The price of wood shot up significantly and the sellers are even worried themselves, noting that no matter the prices, the final bearer of the cost would be the buyer.
Alhassan a shop attendant in the Ashaley Botwe township said the price of ¾ inch plywood had within two weeks jumped to GH¢145.00 from GH¢125.00 with the ½ inch plywood inching from GHc95.00 to GHc115.00.
He attributed the price hikes to factors including the introduction of taxes and hoarding.
Alhassan said a bucket of paint, which was GH¢70.00 some two weeks ago was GHc75.00 at the time of visit, noting that the prices of the goods started going up, right after the 2021 Budget was delivered and new taxes were announced.
He said living in Ghana had become almost unbearable as the dollar would keep going up and price hikes would continue.