Growth of informal construction sector, its challenges
Published On December 20, 2016 » 1157 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Business, Columns
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SME cornerThe construction industry in the informal sector has flourished in Zambia and this has come to the rescue of the unemployed youths in some way.
The unemployment levels in the country are high and looking to the government to create job opportunities is proving difficult. Therefore entrepreneurship is encouraged among the youths.
Ever since the empowerment of owning a house was started by the late second republican president Fredrick Titus Chiluba in the early 90s, it has been the dream of every adult Zambian to own a personal house.
It all started with the gesture extended by the late president to all sitting tenants in the council rented houses who where offered to buy housing units they occupied at a very affordable prices. The same gesture extended its tentacles to companies who built houses for workers who were also offered to buy houses.
Since then the wind has been blowing towards individuals to own personal houses and this has led to scramble for plots for construction of personal houses in areas where they can be accessed and the trend is countrywide.
The construction of personal houses among the individuals backed by acquisition of personal loans from the banks and other lending institution has contributed greatly to the flourishing of the construction industry in the informal way.
Travelling countrywide from Ndola through Lusaka to Livingstone up to Chipata through to Kasama, the construction of personal houses is evident unlike in the past when people resigned to villages upon retirement from work.
In this way the construction industry has become source of employment among the youths as others have formed small businesses relented to construction industry while others have become self employed to beat the harsh realities of unemployment.
The offshoots of small business as a result of construction of individual houses country wide can be traced to the block making, the competition in the manufacturing of cement and  the manufacturing of roofing sheets.
Others are the hardware industry selling building materials accessories, the importation of steel as materials for welding etc.
In our article today we want to trace how formed small businesses are fitting in the construction industry and the contribution made.
Driving along Katimamulilo road, connecting into Great East Road, the construction industry among small businesses shapes into the welding sector as  window frames, door frames, grilled door flames are manufactured and lined up for sale.
Equally driving out on Great North Road heading towards Kabwe town, the carpentry industry greets you with all forms of manufactured doors paraded for sale.
The construction industry in the informal sector is flourishing and has offered employment among the individuals some who have leant jobs on training and formed their own businesses.
I caught up with Mr Joe Phiri a block maker whose support to the construction industry is to manufacture blocks for sale mainly to individual customers.
The middle aged block maker started his business six years ago. He told me that before starting the business he was selling the second hand cloths.
His business of block making is situated along a busy road in Chazanga compound.
He started the business when he realised that the demand for blocks was high because many individuals where involved in the construction of personal houses in the area.
The business of block making has supported his family greatly in that he is able to feed his family and take the children to school.
He told me that he is able to employ four casual workers who help him to make blocks and pay them on daily basis.
However, the business faces some challenges in that during the rain season the business becomes slow because few individuals engage in construction.
The acquisition of the loans to purchase equipment for block making is another challenge the businessman is faced with.
The construction industry supports small businessmen and self employed
individuals such as plumbers who are engaged in sewer systems by constructing toilets in the homes, electricians who install electric cables in homes, carpenters who are involved in construction of roofing sheets etc.

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