Jul 03, 2023
Unstable power making local roofing sheet production less competitive
Igbafua Kindly share this story: Roofing consultant and Chief Executive Officer, Plusworld Roofing and Restoration Ltd, John Igbafua, tells FATTEH HAMID how climate change and other factors affect the
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Roofing consultant and Chief Executive Officer, Plusworld Roofing and Restoration Ltd, John Igbafua, tells FATTEH HAMID how climate change and other factors affect the roofing industry in Nigeria.
What are the major challenges facing the roofing industry in Nigeria?
The industry is largely not regulated, not in terms of standards but in terms of entry-level. The industry has no governing council or governing body like all other major organisations do in Nigeria. At this moment, we are just trying to put a body together and have it fully registered. That is one. Also, you have different people using different materials and like most Nigerians, everyone wants something lesser or affordable, maybe this can be blamed on the state of the economy, and people do not care about the quality of the materials being bought due to this economic hardship. However, when there’s a problem, people lament that they bought a poor quality material but the actual problem is that people are not demanding good quality.
Another challenge is the issue of workmanship. Roofing isn’t given to appropriate experts to have it set up, and affordability is also to blame. All of these things, however, go beyond affordability. People should pay more attention to their roofing, the quality of materials, and the company and contractors engaged for their installation to get a warranty. Roofing is one thing that is on one’s billing for almost a lifetime, so you want a product, a service, that can stand the test of time.
Unprofessional practices and poor maintenance culture have been blamed for roofing problems, especially leakages. What is your take on that?
Majorly, when roofing infrastructures are not handled by professionals, there’s a tendency that there’ll be some form of defects on the roof, which is majorly a leakage, and maybe some pieces of roof tiles falling off as time goes on. Most of the people we have in the industry are not well-trained. As I mentioned earlier, because of the lack of training and regulation, people just do what they like most times. Also, the technology, when it comes to roofing is changing, there are different approaches to roofing. For example, there are certain materials you should use if you are going for a flat roof or a pitched roof which we call a high roof. Certain precautions should be taken in terms of the materials to use, in terms of the kind of gradients. These are some of the practices that should be taken into cognisance because most professionals do not understand this, they more or less use their discretion which largely leads to these defects such as leakages on the roof over a long time.
Many residents in Lagos had their roofs destroyed by a thunderstorm recently. Do you think that is normal or is there something the builders or house owners did not do professionally to prevent such a disaster?
Well, our region does not experience very adverse weather like storms, high winds, hurricanes and tornadoes as we have in other climes. However, when roofs are professionally installed, a lot of precautions are taken so that most of the roofs are not blown off. So, yes, professional experience can prevent that. It’s not like there’s a major reason associated with adverse weather but really, if most roofs are professionally installed, taking into cognisance the wind trust, weight and height of the building, some of the disasters can be averted.
Why is it difficult to manufacture roofing sheets in Nigeria?
I would not say it is exactly very difficult because we’ve had a lot of indigenous manufacturing companies and today, there are many foreign manufacturing companies. Before now, we had many aluminium manufacturing companies, though, it is not like what it used to be in the past. Now, we have a lot of indigenous companies manufacturing stone-coated roofing tiles. The raw materials are here (in Nigeria), especially the mounting stones, but a lot of the steel, or almost all, is still largely imported. That is why we don’t have a lot of local companies manufacturing. The important material, which is steel, is still largely imported. We all know that steel is not really produced in Nigeria. We know the story of the Ajaokuta steel company that was supposed to bridge this gap and has not really taken off.
Another major reason is power. We all know the importance of power when it comes to manufacturing and certain industries. The cost of generating power is quite high because of the incessant power failure, so, most of these companies have their overhead being eroded because of their inability or access to constant power supply. So, power is also another major reason. For the few ones that manufacture in Nigeria, it is quite expensive. The cost of production is quite high which is a result of power and the cost of importing raw materials. Majorly, these are the issues.
For those who manufacture, how feasible is it to maintain the same price regime with imported sheets?
For the factors that I mentioned earlier, the high cost of production and all that, we find out that the imported materials are usually cheaper than the locally produced sheets. That is what the market says right now. People try to go for the imported ones even though studies have shown that locally-produced roofing sheets have higher standards than the ones imported. It is difficult to meet the pricing because they are far more expensive to produce locally than imported ones. It is difficult for local manufacturers to compete with imported materials in terms of pricing.
Does this mean that if the market is considered, it’ll be at a loss to local manufacturers or less profit for them?
Absolutely. That is one of the challenges or inhibitions to Nigeria having more local manufacturers because the margins are usually very low compared to the ones that are imported. One, the overheads are quite low; you’re not setting up all the heavy machinery, in terms of maintenance, in terms of labour to handle the machinery. However, those that import them, just have rolling mills and plants that corrugate these materials. The cost of overhead in terms of labour, machinery and maintenance is quite low compared to people importing. Definitely, the margins will not be as attractive for those that are manufacturing locally, which is why we have fewer people manufacturing. What you have most time is just people importing coils to cut and mill to sizes rather than 100 per cent manufacturing.
Do you think that the government is doing enough in finding a solution to this?
Well, I know that the government in the last few years has encouraged local production of materials, not just roofing materials but building materials generally. However, I think that there could be more incentives to encourage more investors to go into manufacturing these products by providing single-digit loans for people and giving them some tax break as an incentive to encourage local manufacturing of roofing and other building materials because the impact is going to be enjoyed over time because as we get more people employed, then they begin to flourish. I think that the government can do more in encouraging local production of these materials through tax incentives and giving loans to investors at a single digit for a long time.
How can local manufacturers help themselves despite the challenges in a bid to compete with the lesser prices the market offers?
That’s a difficult question. As an investor, I think that most times, you have your business planned and you have done a bit of market research and then intelligence to be able to analyse the business to know if it’s quite profitable before you venture into such a business. Then again, there are a lot of factors that determine the viability and profitability of any business: environmental factors, and economic factors as well. Generally, we all know that the economy has not been doing well, which is largely impacting the construction of buildings, especially with real estate. If the real estate industry is doing well, where you have a lot of developers building a lot of buildings, you know that the volume of roofing that will be done within that period is going to be quite enormous. But at the moment, the impact of the economy on real estate and housing development is largely harsh on the business.
Again, with the slow economy at the moment, the buyers’ purchasing power is quite low. On the flip side, you expect that the manufacturer or the business person will invest a lot in marketing so that you’re able to compete in the market and so that people know what kind of product you have – the availability and the location that they can pick it up. Apart from those factors, I think that having a very good understanding of the industry in terms of marketing could serve as a determining factor to be successful in this industry.
How can Nigeria put itself on the map and compete in the international market?
I think if we compare the level of roofing business in Nigeria, the country is at the forefront of the roofing industry in Africa. As I have earlier mentioned, giving more incentives for people to go into the roofing industry will largely help to grow the industry. Again, the government should come in help to ensure that the registration of a governing body or council will help to ensure that the industry is properly organised and regulated. When we have this, it will be easy for the governing council to draw a roadmap for their growth. Also, in recent times, we have heard of a steel rolling mill under construction in Kaduna State; as soon as that comes up, I know that we will have more steel produced locally because I’m not sure when the Ajaokuta (steel company) comes up, Nigeria’s roofing industry will be in a more pivotal position than what it is at the moment. The steel roof that we use today for the different roofing available is about 95 per cent of the 100. If we can get our steel industry working, it’ll push us forward and position Nigeria to be the leader in the roofing industry in Africa.
In recent times, roofing sheets tend to wear out faster than they used to. What do you think is responsible for that?
One of the predominant factors is the use of poor and low-quality roofing materials. Remember at the beginning, I stated that people are more concerned about costs rather than quality these days. So, there’s a tendency that people end up buying low and poor-quality materials compared to quality materials simply due to economic factors. Other factors are environmental factors. The roof is that element of the building that is exposed to the weather because it provides protection for you against the weather. So, over time, because it is subjected to adverse weather conditions, sunshine, rainfall, and wind, over time, you find out that naturally, the roof begins to deteriorate. This is the major reason why you find some roofs looking faded, dirty, unkempt and leaky.
How best can roofing sheets be managed?
When it comes to roofing, the first thing to do is to get an architect to get you a drawing and recommend the best roofing materials for your construction. As I earlier stated, there are different materials to be used for flat roofs or high-pitched roofs. So, an architect will be able to recommend the best materials that will stand the test of time and the materials that will protect your building from noise pollution and all that. Getting a professional is paramount and from your planning stage, getting the advice of a professional should be the first thing on the type of roofing, design and the type of materials to be used. The next is to get a professional roofing contractor to install the roofing so one is sure that the right materials are used while also getting a warranty for the job that was done.
How much has climate change affected the roofing industry in Nigeria?
One of the major reasons why we have deterioration on roofs and roofing infrastructure is a result of climate change which is adverse weather. We understand that global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer have made a violent impact on roofing infrastructure because it is the element that affects the roofs the most. So, climate change has resulted in more damage to roofing infrastructures because we have a temperature rise which leads to more contraction and expansion of these roofings that leads to damage and failure most of the time. Green energy is one way to fight climate change because it reduces the release of gases that damages the environment and releases more nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. If we adopt green energy, it will help and the resultant effect of that will be that most elements, not just the roof that is impacted by climate change, will be largely reduced.
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BREAKING NEWS: Nigerians have now been approved to earn US Dollars legitimately, you can earn as much as $10,000 (₦8.5 million naira) for that to happen someone must expose and train you. Click here to start.FATTEH HAMID What are the major challenges facing the roofing industry in Nigeria?Unprofessional practices and poor maintenance culture have been blamed for roofing problems, especially leakages. What is your take on that?Many residents in Lagos had their roofs destroyed by a thunderstorm recently. Do you think that is normal or is there something the builders or house owners did not do professionally to prevent such a disaster?Why is it difficult to manufacture roofing sheets in Nigeria?For those who manufacture, how feasible is it to maintain the same price regime with imported sheets?Does this mean that if the market is considered, it’ll be at a loss to local manufacturers or less profit for them?Do you think that the government is doing enough in finding a solution to this?How can local manufacturers help themselves despite the challenges in a bid to compete with the lesser prices the market offers?How can Nigeria put itself on the map and compete in the international market?In recent times, roofing sheets tend to wear out faster than they used to. What do you think is responsible for that?How best can roofing sheets be managed?How much has climate change affected the roofing industry in Nigeria?