A new southern African construction IT journal and Africa’s first construction IT summit show there is a growing appetite for new construction tools and techniques in the region.
I have written occasionally about construction software vendors’ activities in southern Africa, but a factor in expansion into that region, particularly for Software-as-a-Service vendors, has been internet connectivity. As a result, it has lagged behind other parts of the developing world in adopting and using cloud-based technologies, but there have been some encouraging signs in recent years.
Some European SaaS construction software businesses have opened offices in South Africa, including Denmark’s Docia (April 2012 post; Docia has since, in 2014, been acquired by RIB) and London-based Asite (October 2014 post). Other businesses also picked up work with South Africa-based customers, including iSite (post), but otherwise the region has remained relatively untouched by other SaaS vendors – even by Aconex, which has historically spread its net very widely, including into north Africa.
However, the region is thirsty for information about the latest IT trends, including SaaS and BIM, and to meet this demand, publishing company Hypenica has launched Construction Software & IT: A Journal for Digital Construction Solutions, which is edited by Vaughan Harris (in the past associated with RIB, CCS/4Projects and Asite). The journal is closely associated with the Cape Town-based BIM Institute, which is also organising the region’s first Construction IT Summit and Expo, in Johannesburg on 11 May 2016 (with Asite and RIB not surprisingly among the participating companies). If they wish visitors can also spend time in the parallel African Construction and Totally Concrete Expos.
Vaughan Harris writes:
“As Africa’s construction industry continues to evolve, there have been significant technological improvements, but BIM is still very much a new acronym to the industry.
The recent establishment of the South African BIM Institute, in May 2015, will play a pivotal role in supporting and promoting the BIM process for Africa, with CanBIM (Canadian BIM Council) and the AEC (UK) assisting in regulating all BIM protocols and BIM education for Africa. The BIM Institute has also been established to promote the development of information technology solutions and processes within the construction industry.
It is imperative that local construction companies take a strategic long-term view of their business, so they can invest in improved technology and affordable software solutions if BIM is to play a role in Africa’s sustainable development process. Companies also need to consider how to invest in information technology processes that are helping to shape and improve sustainable development.
Leveraging technology will be imperative – not just to make construction projects more efficient but also helps to reduce printing costs, reduce duplication and human error and show improved accountability and transparency.”
Disclosure: I have written commentary pieces for the Construction Software & IT journal.