Building new homes can be a time consuming, expensive process. In Africa, communities are going back to an ancient technique to build sustainable homes that don’t break the bank.
Since the year 2000, the Nubian Vault Association has been using masons with knowledge of the Nubian Vault technique to build roofs out of mud bricks as well as training up the next generation.
This is helping to reduce communities’ reliance on materials such as costly corrugated iron and sawn timber beams.
The bricks used by the association and its builders are made from local earth and water and then dried in the sun.
Houses with this style of roof are said to be cheap to make, retain heat during the night and remain cool when the weather is hot.
“In ordinary houses cement and raw materials are very expensive and have to be brought in, they are not found in my village,” said Bassirou Coulibaly, a Nubian Vault Mason from Niéna, a rural community in the south of Mali.
Alex Dembele is national co-ordinator for the Nubian Vault Association.
“The advantages of working with (the) NVA are not only a reduction in construction costs,” he said. “The houses have a very stable climate all year round… (and) it also provides employment for the community,” he added.
According to the association, as of September 2015 380 Nubian Vault masons – in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin, Ghana and Mauritania – had been trained, with more than 1,800 Nubian Vault buildings finished in 700 locations.
“Our slogan is: Roof, job, market place,” Dembele said. “The technology is in place to be able to pass these skills onto a great number of people,” he added.
The association says that 20,000 people have benefited from their buildings, with around 55,000 tons of CO2 equivalent potentially saved when compared to other techniques.
The association also states that its economic impact on “local economies” is more than €2 million ($2.27 million).
For Coulibaly, there have been economic as well as housing benefits. “Once I’ve finished building my house, I have other clients waiting,” he said.
CAPE TOWN – A study into innovation in Africa’s mining sector has shown that mining houses will need to innovate if they want to succeed in a sector marked by plunging commodity prices, deeper and more dangerous mines, greater geographical complexity and labour unrest. The ‘Innovation State of Play: Africa’ report, compiled by Monitor Deloitte and Mining Indaba, shows that the African mining sector is midfield in terms of innovation focus and impact. It scores on the lower end of competence on the industry maturity scale, but is slightly above the Canadian average.
“This hints at an opportunity for the continent to push ahead and truly lead through innovation, particularly as the operational context lends itself to thinking and working differently to unlock efficiencies,” said Deloitte Africa mining leader Andrew Lane. The study, the second of a three-part series which also covers Australia and Canada, examined current perspectives on innovation through a series of executive interviews. It also used the Innovation Scorecard survey methodology developed by the Deloitte innovation unit, Doblin.
Based on responses from mining executives, the current breakdown in Africa’s mining innovation was a relatively balanced 61% core, 23% adjacent and 16% transformational. This innovation ambition matrix is considered to be healthy. It follows a similar trend to the Canadian market. Core innovations are defined as innovations that optimise existing products for existing customers, while adjacent innovations are those that expand existing business into “new to the company” business.
Transformational or new innovations are considered breakthroughs and inventions for markets that do not yet exist. While the African market has a strong focus on core products and markets, including technological solutions to optimise old techniques as and when needed, the survey determined that there is significant scope to unlock higher levels of adjacent and transformational innovation. The study found that companies find it a challenge to spread risk. Lane said innovation needs to address the mine system holistically, incorporating it into social, labour and stakeholder spheres. “This is a view that is more inclined to be embedded in Africa’s mining players and one behind which there is a rallying call to capitalise on more.” Lane said companies need to be clear about what they are working on and how they envision their businesses of tomorrow if they want to unlock the potential of innovation and create a sustainable mining sector. “Importantly, senior management needs to champion innovation, while the appropriate governance structures need to be in place.”