Citizens Brace for Unprecedented Construction Boom Gabby Mgaya 24 May 2011 TANZANIA has seen unprecedented massive construction boom in recent years in all aspects of the activity. For the past decade and even a few years before that, there has been a construction boom as thousands of new houses, multi-storey buildings and roads were built. In fact, someone who left Dar es Salaam a decade or so ago for a life abroad would be amazed at the city's changed skyline upon his or her return. The construction rate has just been too overwhelming. And such construction has not been confined to the city's Central Business District as it used to happen in the past but is evenly distributed to other areas including Kariakoo, Magomeni, Ilala, Manzese, Mwenge and Ubungo. The same applies to all major urban centres in the country. Thanks to the commitment and devotion of the government, the period spawning the past decade and a few years back has seen massive improvement of the infrastructure, including the construction of new roads, rehabilitation of existing gravel roads to tarmac ones and construction and rehabilitation of bridges. It is now possible for one to connect to all parts of the country by travelling on tarmac roads. The need to improve the living standards of the people has led to the construction of thousands of new primary and secondary schools, both public or private; and new hospitals and dispensaries. Massive participation of private developers in the housing sector has led to the construction of thousands of houses in the country's residential areas. All this construction activity has led to the mushrooming of retail and wholesale building hardware shops all over Tanzania. They are spread to even the remotest parts. Their presence and ready market is sign of the ongoing construction boom. The sector is currently experiencing a period of growth primarily driven by the recent developments in the roadwork, housing and mining industries. Analysts view this favourable construction trend as a sign of economic growth and growth in foreign and local investments. According to statistics, since 2000, Tanzania's real GDP has grown at an annual rate of about 6.3 per cent, with the construction industry a major contributor to this growth. Construction contributes about 5.6 per cent to the GDP of 34,000 billion. The ministry responsible for infrastructure development is the main government body dealing with infrastructure together with the Prime Minister's Office for Regional and Local Government. Tanzania has a number of well developed regulatory and business/professional institutions operating in the construction sector. The main body tasked with developing the sector is the National Construction Council (NCC) with the purpose of promoting the development of the local construction industry. According to more recent statistics, the growth rate of the sector increased to 11.9 per cent in 2005/06 from 10.8 per cent in 2004/05 and the contribution of construction activity to the overall GDP rose to 5.7 per cent in 2005/06 compared to a contribution of 5.4 per cent in 2004/05. The construction industry is a sector of the economy that transforms various resources into constructed physical economic and social infrastructure necessary for socio-economic development. It embraces the process by which the said physical infrastructure are planned, designed, procured, constructed or produced, altered, repaired, maintained, and demolished. Thus, the construction industry is a fundamental economic activity which permeates most of the sectors of the economy and it has a major role to play in achieving social economic development objectives of any country; yet is consistently ranked as one of the most corrupt areas of economic activity in a number of countries including Tanzania. However, despite the tremendous successes registered in the sector there are a number of challenges faced that have been the subject of much head rolling among the institutions and stakeholders concerned to seek ever-lasting solutions. According to some stakeholders, the main challenges facing the sector are the need to achieve higher levels of productivity and improved quality to enable clients to derive value for money and as a measure towards international competitiveness. The other challenge is to garner the lion's share of the local market, which is currently the domain of foreigners despite their low numerical strength. It is felt that such challenges shall be met and overcome by implementing the Construction Industry Policy as it provides a holistic approach in dealing with any impediments. Mentioning the involvement of foreign companies and investors in the local construction industry, their main opportunities are in physical infrastructure developments. This includes roads and bridges, airports, electrical power generation and distribution, railways, ports, educational and health facilities, tourism facilities (hotels and recreational facilities), water and waste water management, real estate, construction equipment, and production of building and supply materials and components. Perhaps one of the nagging challenges in the local construction industry is the high price of building materials. Several public and private firms have put up cement factories in Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Mbeya and now one is scheduled for Mtwara. More others have established factories for the construction of some building appliances, including steel, domestic appliances, corrugated iron sheets and tiles; and plastic goods such as pipes. Some agencies have undertaken research geared to solve problems related to human shelter. Research results are disseminated to rural and urban areas through reports, pamphlets, technical guidelines, data sheets, and seminal and practical demonstration houses where the local population is fully involved. The aim is to work on new technologies and methods that would cut construction costs. All said, the construction sector continues to be one of the most exciting sectors in the country's economy and visible projections are sign of more things to come in the sector.