It is difficult to contemplate in abstract the tremendous strain that rapid urbanization has put on housing and serviced land for the urban poor in developing countries. The United Nations Population Fund has projected that by 2030, Africa’s urban population would reach nearly 750 million, creating a dire need for proper housing and access to basic infrastructure and services. More than a dozen African cities would be among the world’s largest by 2025.
Moladi, a South Africa-based family-owned business promises to simplify the housing problem. Founder Hennie Botes, using an innovative system of reusable formwork has designed an efficient construction technique that requires formwork moulds assembled with 30cmx30xm plastic panels by extension. The modular construction technique allows for buildings such as houses, schools, community centers, and clinics to be construction with remarkable ease and speed.
The wall mould framework can be put up in four hours. It is then filled with an aerated form of mortar, which is left to dry overnight. The formwork mould is then removed, and the mortar walls are laden with a cementitious, water-based paint. Roofs, windows, and painting which take up to another three days are installed in the later stages. Finally, sanitary wares and lighting fixtures are installed.
Building a house using Moladi’s modular construction method takes about two weeks. The mortar walls are weather and earthquake resistant. The construction model reduces cost, complexity, and required skill and time required to assemble the framework. The wall mould is reusable and can be used up to fifty times, saving cost at a bigger scale. Moreover, in remote areas, its construction doesn’t require heavy machinery or electricity.
As of 2015, Africa has the highest population of slum dwellers at 71.9%. The region with the second largest proportion of slum dwellers is South-Central Asia at 58%. Affordable housing for low-income people is a critical modern-day challenge. Moreover, useable land is at times locked up in bureaucracy and planning restriction. While in different regions of the world the challenge varies, the universal truism is that it is becoming increasing difficult for a vast majority of growing population to obtain and retain affordable land and housing.
Moladi is also re-instilling economic confidence by looking beyond typical CSR efforts in order to create a business opportunity in a market that has critical social constraints. Along with environment-friendly affordable housing, it offers local training for the unemployed by creating jobs in the community. Due to the simplicity of the construction techniques, skills can be transferred within a short time pulling families out of poverty and thus, benefiting the community with both affordable housing and economic development.
The innovative technology now makes up the majority of the company’s business and is being exported to other markets such as Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Nigeria. It has not only improved the financial position of the company but also played an active role in the South African economy. When it comes to approaching emerging markets, more and more companies are realizing that they cannot innovate without playing a valuable role in addressing regional social issues.