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April 19 - 24, 2013


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Entrepreneurs modernize green
housing with low cost materials

Prime Ventures has introduced a new housing technology
based on use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels with
a cement coating to replace conventional stones

SPECIAL REPORT BY XINHUA Correspondent Christine Lagat

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Savvy Kenyan entrepreneurs have revitalized green housing through use of energy efficient but low cost lighting and construction materials sourced mainly from China and India.

As quest for green homes surge in Kenya, property developers have a reason to cheer as novel technologies replace conventional materials to construct durable and eco-friendly houses.

“There are alternative building systems that are both energy efficient and affordable which can be tapped to put up homes in any part of the country,” CEO of Prime Ventures, Menelik Makonnen said on Wednesday.

Prime Ventures has introduced into the Kenyan market a new housing technology based on use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels with a cement coating to replace conventional stones.

Makonnen told Xinhua during an interview in Nairobi that this technology has been adopted globally and has a promising future in Africa where demand for low cost housing has increased.

“The use of non brick and environmentally friendly building system has picked up in Africa largely because of the quest to eliminate slums through provision of low cost houses,” Makonnen remarked.

Replacing conventional stones with welded panels that have been plastered with cement and sand saves on cost and duration of constructing a house.

According to Makonnen, it would cost 30,000 dollars to put up a posh three bedroom unit in a suburban location using panels with cement coating. Likewise, this building system utilize only steel for roofing and help save on timber.

“The panel technology is ideal for building houses, schools, hospitals, swimming pools and basement packing. The stone has a 90- year guarantee and can withstand earthquakes or hurricanes,” said Makonnen.

Prime Ventures has developed model housing units in several Nairobi suburbs, central province and South Sudan.

This home grown small and medium enterprise imports the expanded polystyrene panels from South Africa and Dubai and has partnered with a construction company to develop housing units using this technology.

Makonnen revealed to Xinhua that the machines and equipment for manufacturing these panels are sourced from China.

“So far, the National Housing Corporation has purchased the machines from China to manufacture 3-dimensional wired panels with polystyrene insulation to construct low cost houses,” Makonnen said.

Kenyan small and medium sized enterprises have partnered to revolutionalize green housing using technologies that are home- grown, cheaper and environmentally friendly.

Makonnen said that a partnership formed with two Kenyan mid- sized enterprises, Deutrex Limited and Clean Power Technologies limited, has promoted solar lighting and waste recycling and re- reuse at household level.

Deutrex Limited is a six-year-old limited company founded by Gitonga Murungi, a Kenyan solar energy innovator and entrepreneur.

According to Murungi, the company has partnered with the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) to provide modern and cleaner off grid energy sources to local communities through the Lighting Africa Program.

“There is abundant solar in Africa to sustain lighting in homes and what is needed is to make solar products locally available,” Murungi told Xinhua.

Deutrex limited import solar equipment from China while research and development is conducted in India.

While Prime Ventures construct houses, Deutrex is tasked with installing solar equipment in this one year partnership.

The other partner, Clean Power Technologies Limited, provides household solution to solid and liquid waste through recycling and re-use.


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