The second Construction Work and Housing Development University-Industry Linkage Forum urged academics and industry players to work together in resolving the hitches hindering the growth of the local construction sector.
When the forum was held yesterday at Washington Hotel in Addis Ababa, industry leaders and academics agreed that research based findings were key in addressing the hitches in the construction sector. The forum was organized by the Ethiopian Construction Project Management Institute.
Construction Minister, Aisha Mohammed, who opened the one day forum, said that the construction industry has been recording a steady growth in the past ten years. The construction sector has been growing at a rate of 12.43 percent yearly and contributes some 5.3 percent to the nation’s GDP. However, Aisha said that the global competiveness of the industry in terms of utilizing modern technologies and construction systems is at a lower stage.
The minister said that it was imperative to integrate the construction sector players and members of the academia and conduct practical researches and implement the findings of the research in addressing the challenges facing the construction sector.
The Construction Work and Housing Development Industry-University Linkage was created in November 2015 aimed at synchronizing the efforts to transform the construction sector among the academia and industry stakeholders. The national forum has six regional forums and 16 member universities. The forum facilitates researches to be undertaken by universities upon the recommendations of construction industry players. The forum encourages contractors and other stakeholders to adopt and implement modern construction industries.
Yoseph Birru (PhD), executive director Ethiopian Construction Project Management Institute, told The Reporter that the national forum was striving to strengthen the working relation between the industry and academia. “Lack of using appropriate technology, low productivity and the reluctance to apply new or cost saving technologies are some of the gaps noted in the construction sector. The construction sector is stubborn even globally,” Yoseph said. He said that the national Industry-University Linkage Forum would focus on technology transfer in the construction sector.
When it comes to policy issues rent seeking and regulatory issues are the major problems that need to be addressed at national level, according to Yoseph.
Though it was only a year since the University-Industry Linkage forum was established several gaps have been noted in executing the planned cooperation between the industry and academia.
Mulugeta Dadi (PhD), University-Industry Linkage Forum director with Hawassa University, pointed out that the universities and the industry players have different interests. Mulugeta said the Academia wants knowledge, publications, grants (support) and new research while the construction industry seeks information, product sales, market and profit. “The academia has fears that the researches could be stolen by other parties. On the other side the industry players are not cooperative in conducting researches. They refuse to accept internship students. They are also reluctant to make financial contributions to researches,” Mulugeta said.
Technology Transfer director with the Ethiopian Construction Management Institute, Zahra Abdulhadi, said that the government has put in place a strategy that encourages the work on practical researches that the construction sector needs. Zahra revealed that there is lack of awareness of the importance of researches among industry players. “There is unwillingness to allocate funds for researches. The universities often ask the amount of funds allocated for researches. They also have doubts on the ownerships of researches findings,” she said.
A representative of Ethiopian Contractors Association urged that researches should focus on brining practical solutions to contractors. He recommended that researches could be undertaken on efficient utilization of inputs that enable contractors eliminate resource waste.
Financial limitations, research redundancy were some of the long list of concerns raised by participants. The Forum has reached at a general consensus of the need to tackle the glitches in the construction and house development sector based on research findings. The forum stressed the need to gear the researches towards supporting the development of the sector.