By Hans-Dieter Beushausen
The 2010 Soccer World Cup will be held in South Africa and is expected to have a significant impact on the country’s construction and building industries. Next to the construction of new sports stadiums and the upgrade of existing sports facilities, large infrastructure projects are currently carried out or planned for the near future. The residential housing market and the development of low-income housing projects are booming. The cement and concrete industries in South Africa are greatly benefiting from these recent developments and expect continuous growth over the next several years.
By winning the right to host the Soccer World Cup 2010, South Africa became the first African country ever to organize the event. Based on experiences made during the last World Cups in France and Japan/Korea, where the event drew more than 1 million visitors on both occasions, it is conservatively estimated that more than 500,000 foreign visitors will come to South Africa for the Cup. The construction of new stadiums and upgrading of existing facilities are only a small aspect of the 2010 World Cup, with the associated infrastructural developments holding even greater promise for the local construction industry.
Despite the excitement that hit South Africa after winning the bid for the world cup, the industry is aware that the development of the infrastructure has to be carefully planned so as not to end up building facilities that cannot be utilized once the event has finished. The industry tries to learn from the Japan/Korea world cup in 2002, where a number of stadiums had to be dismantled after the games as there was no longer a use for them. However, the growth in the construction sector in the coming years is expected to greatly benefit the industries and major construction and building projects are planned for the near future. Due to the higher demand for building materials, construction costs are expected to rise between 6 percent and 15 percent on an annual basis in the coming five years. The construction industry is expected to gain momentum in 2006, when the majority of World Cup-related projects is anticipated to take shape.
Next to the construction and upgrading of sport facilities, large infrastructural construction projects are planned for the period until 2010
FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, specifies a minimum of eight stadiums for the event, with South Africa’s World Cup committee proposing a possible 13 stadiums to cater for the country’s nine provinces. The minimum seating capacities laid down by FIFA are 40,000, with quarter, semi and final venues being required to cater for at least 60,000 spectators. The upgrading of nine existing facilities as well as the planned development of four new stadiums will be determined by these numbers.
In line with the upgrading of sport facilities goes the development of the infrastructure and related industries. The major airports of the country – Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban – will be upgraded until 2010. The upgrading of Johannesburg International Airport, for example, will include a new international pier, a central terminal building, two new multistory parkades and an echo apron. Similarly, Cape Town International Airport will receive a new terminal building and a multistory car parkade. Plans for Durban International Airport are not finalized at this stage as the government plans to build a new airport in the region, in addition to the upgrades anticipated for the World Cup.
South Africa’s biggest construction project in the near future is the Gautrain, a rapid rail link between the city of Johannesburg, Johannesburg Airport and Pretoria. During the construction phase, which started in April, approximately 57,000 jobs will be created. For this project, 260,000 precast concrete sleepers will be manufactured and 20,000 tons of steel will be used for the rails. More than 9,000 new parking spots are required and 112,000 square meters (134,000 square yards) of bridges and viaduct structures will be constructed. Completion of the project is anticipated for 2009, just in time for the Soccer World Cup.
A number of other large infrastructure projects are currently carried out or planned for the next years. These include the completion of the Port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth, the Berg River Water Scheme in the Western Cape, which includes dam and pipeline constructions, as well as further development of several dam systems in the province Mpumalanga. For the Ngqura harbor alone, a total of 800,000 cubic meters (1 million cubic yards) of concrete will be cast between September 2002 and the end of 2005, a large amount of which is used for production of 26,500 precast 30-ton Dolosse as breakwater elements. A number of power plants will be developed or upgraded throughout the country, including an investment of some 27 billion Rand (approximately $4.2 billion) in electricity transmission and distribution networks over the next five years. Other projects include the upgrading of industrial rail lines and port capacity expansion in several cities. For the ports in Cape Town and Durban, an amount of 2 billion Rand ($309 million) has been approved for the improvement of container terminals. Also very important for the country’s construction industry are the residential property market, which has seen a dramatic boost in recent years; the upgrading of low-cost housing facilities and municipal infrastructure; and several large economic infrastructure projects that are planned over the next decade.
South Africa’s cement industry is expanding its facilities to meet the increasing demand
In South Africa, with its 42 million inhabitants, cement usage per capita was at roughly 250 kilograms in 2004, which is still relatively small compared to other countries like, for example, the United States (300+) and Germany (400+). South Africa has four cement producing companies. Pretoria Portland Cement PPC is the country’s oldest and biggest cement producer, holding six of the 10 South African cement manufacturing facilities with a joint capacity of 6 million tons per annum. Holcim (South Africa), formerly known as Alpha, runs two cement factories. Lafarge South Africa operates the country’s biggest cement plant in Lichtenburg with a production capacity of 2.4 million tons of cement a year. Lafarge and Holcim also operate major ready-mixed concrete facilities in South Africa. Natal Portland Cement NPC operates one cement plant and is the mean supplier in the region around Durban. Due to increasing demand, NPC has launched a program to increase its capacity by constructing a second kiln, a 12,000-ton cement storage silo and a packing plant that will operate at 3,000 bags of cement an hour. Completion of the project is scheduled for 2007. Similarly, PPC also announced plans to increase its cement manufacturing capacities in the near future.
Cement consumption in 2004 was at historic record highs
Plans for increasing cement production capacities follow the development of cementitious sales, which were at record highs in 2004. Much of the significant increase in cementitious demand occurred in the residential sector, mainly resulting from low interest rates, while the civil engineering sector continued at disappointing levels. The latter, however, is expected to change drastically in the years to come, as discussed earlier. Annual domestic demand exceeded 10 million tons for the first time in South Africa, with the volume growth compared to 2003 being an impressive 17 percent. Buying sectors experiencing the strongest growth were cement blending facilities (+29 percent), resellers (+16 percent), the ready-mixed concrete industry (+21 percent) and concrete product manufacturers (+18 percent). Problems arising from the recent developments are that these days material suppliers are struggling to meet the increase in demand. Prospects for the coming years are very good, mainly due to the infrastructural projects related to the 2010 World Cup and the delivery of low-income housing.
Approximately 50 percent of cement production is used in the Gauteng province around Johannesburg and Pretoria, which hosts a major part of South Africa’s industry. Domestic distribution of cementitious material is mainly carried out by road with a relatively high amount being transported in bags (approximately 60 percent). The main reason for this is because a large amount of cement is used in the informal building sector and on small construction sites. In many countries the ready-mixed and precast concrete industries are the main end user of cementitious products (for example, in Germany approximately 55 percent and 35 percent for ready-mixed and precast, respectively). By contrast, ready-mixed and precast producers in South Africa accounted in 2004 for only 13 percent and 17 percent of total sales respectively, whereas half of the country’s production was distributed by resellers. The sectors served by resellers, however, also include concrete product manufacturers, so that the total share of the precast industry in the end-use of cement is about 25 percent.
South African Cement Standards were adopted from European standards in 1997 in order to keep up with international trends. Similarly to most other countries, cementitious sales reveal a continuing trend away from ordinary portland cement CEM I types to blended equivalents within the CEM II range. The most important pozzolanic extender is fly ash, which is extracted from the flue gases of power station furnaces fired with pulverized coal. Slag, a byproduct of the iron-making process, is produced in the three South African steel manufacturing plants with an annual output of roughly 1 million tons, all of which is utilized in the cement industry.
Organizations and institutes lead the concrete industry through effective marketing and research activities
Three main institutes and organizations organize the concrete industry in South Africa. The Cement and Concrete Institute of South Africa, C&CI, sponsored by the cement producers, was established in 1938 with the prime mission to increase the market share of the concrete industry, which it achieved through excellent marketing and educational services and its position as information center and advisory board for the industry. The C&CI information center operates what is considered the most comprehensive technical library on concrete in the southern hemisphere and efficiently supports the industry with any kind of information required. The Concrete Society of Southern Africa is an association of professionals and provides a forum for networking and the sharing of knowledge and information on concrete, and has some 2,300 members. The Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA) established in 1972 is the national coordinating body of the precast industry. It is responsible for representing the concrete slab, masonry, roof tile, paving and retaining block industries in all matters relating to the manufacture and use of its members’ products. A subdivision of CMA is the Pipe and Infrastructural Products division, covering concrete pipes and other infrastructural products.
Precast concrete technology has been used in South Africa since the early 1960s, with most of the technology being imported from Europe. Now there are approximately 60 major precast manufacturers in South Africa, while the total number of precast manufacturers, including small block yards, is estimated to be in excess of 1,000. Compared to European or even North American measures, precast concrete is little utilized for structural elements in multistory buildings. The main reason for this is because labor is relatively cheap in South Africa, which eliminates the advantage of prefabrication being comparatively labor unintensive. Precast structural elements like beams, trusses and columns were used in the building industry until the 1980s but are rarely seen today. Hollowcore or other slab systems are commonly the only structural elements used for housing.
On a very small market, Echo is the main producer of hollowcore slabs
The three manufacturers of hollowcore systems around Johannesburg belong to Echo Belgium, which set up the first factory in 1982 and now produces precast slabs, beams and modular stairs. Echo Prestress (Pty) Ltd. manufactures a system of slip-formed hollow core slabs on eight casting beds of 124 meters (407 feet) in length each and has a monthly production capacity of roughly 60,000 square meters (72,000 square yards). Slabs are made in thicknesses of 150, 200 and 250 millimeters (5.9, 7.9 and 9.8 inches) with span lengths of up to 11 meters (36 feet). The average time to cast one line of slabs is two hours. The beds are heated to 70 C (158 F) to achieve minimum compressive strength at prestress transfer of 35 MPa after 12 hours. Design and actual strengths of the slabs are 50 and 70 MPa, respectively. All slabs are made to order, no stock is held. The sister company Echo Floors (Pty) Ltd. produces reinforced hollow floor slabs with lengths varying from 500 to 8,200 millimeters (19.7 inches to 26.9 feet), using a new factory built in 2002. The production is fully computerized and with six workers, 25,000 square meters (29,900 square yards) can be produced monthly per eight-hour shift. In Cape Town, hollowcore slab systems are made by two precast producers, Topfloor, using a dry-cast concrete system, and Bobcrete, which uses a unique wet-cast system utilizing cardboard tubes as a hollow body.
Precast concrete offers solutions for the infrastructure
While used less in the structural building sector, precast concrete is widely used for infrastructural components such as block paving, railway sleepers, masts and poles, culverts and pipes. The largest manufacturer of infrastructural products in southern Africa is Infraset (Grinaker-LTA), operating nine precast yards in South Africa, and one yard respectively in Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland. Infraset started concrete pipe production in the 1930s and now employs a total of 1,200 staff and workers. Pipes are produced for four different loading classes with nominal lengths of 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) and diameters of 300 to 800 millimeters (11.8 inches). Further standard products of Infraset include culverts, manholes, prestressed poles, water tanks, precast toilets for low-income areas, a range of paving and retaining wall systems, masonry blocks and railway sleepers. The biggest project in recent times is the production of 400,000 railway sleepers for a 250-kilometer single-lane railway in Namibia, which will be finished by the end of this year. For this project, approximately 1,000 sleepers are currently produced per day, using the short-line system.
With this system, which is still licensed by Walter Bau, Germany, every sleeper is prestressed individually, as opposed to the long-line system with which one long element is cast and cut into individual components. South Africa’s largest pipe producer is Rocla, who operates a total of 12 precast facilities throughout the country. Next to the producers of standard elements, a few generalists operate in South Africa, producing virtually any type of concrete member for individual projects.
One of these companies is Concrete Units, whose list of recent projects stands as a perfect example for the variety of precast technology. Concrete Units operates one yard each in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Next to its standard products, such as concrete pipes and culverts, it has recently been involved with the production of different breakwater systems, radiation shields for medical treatment, precast concrete toilets, stadium seating elements, single-cast precast bus shelters, harbor walls and boat quays, highway barriers, bridge elements and dry dock support columns.
South Africa has gained international reputation through research in concrete technology and as a host for international conferences
Concrete research in South Africa is mainly carried out by the universities, with a strong focus on durability related issues. This research has led to the implementation of Durability Index test methods which can be used for mix design and quality control of concrete mixes exposed to the environment. These methods, which quantify the resistance against chloride ingress and carbonation, use straight-forward test methods that allow specification of individual concrete mixes. For significant projects, Durability Index values are now commonly prescribed in South Africa, similar to the prescription of compressive strength.
Next to its reputation in concrete research, South Africa has gained recognition as a host of international conferences, the main recent events being the 11th International Congress on the Chemistry of Cement (ICCC 2003), the 7th International Concrete block Paving Conference (Pave Africa 2003), and the International Conference on Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Computation (SEMC 2001 and SEMC 2004). In November 2005, the International Conference on Concrete Repair, Rehabilitation and Retrofitting (ICCRRR 2005), will be held by the University of Cape Town in a joint effort with the University of Leipzig / MFPA Leipzig, Germany (www.civil.uct.ac.za/iccrrr/). These events put a spotlight on the South African concrete industry, which has emerged as the most advanced of the continent and which is expected to experience continuous growth over the next several years.