Chinese firm makes bold bet on affordable homes

Workers assemble a precast wall of an apartment.
Workers assemble a precast wall of an apartment. PHOTO/COURTESY
Boleyn Magic Wall Panel Ltd., (BMWP), has completed construction of a Sh3 billion precast concrete plant in Kitengela, Namanga Road, as it seeks to tap into the growing demand for affordable housing in Kenya.

The factory, which will launch its products next month, consists of a wall panel line, a hollow-core flooring slab line and a line for columns and prestressed beams.

“Our factory will manufacture products such as wall panels, half slab, hollow core slab for flooring and roofing, columns, pressurised beams, road barriers, railway sleepers, highway and bridge double-T beams and staircases,” said Jack Liu, BMWP managing director.

Precast wall panel or floor/roofing slab is a construction material made by casting concrete on a steel pallet in a workshop which is then cured in a regulated curing chamber, shipped to the construction site and lifted into place for installation and finishing.

The entire process permits the construction of a house in just eight to 10 days, compared to the conventional method of piling hollow blocks on top of each other, which requires around two months.

READ: Precast concrete technology builds homes in 8 days

The technology has been approved by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and is expected to help provide the much-needed housing for low- and middle-income earners.

“BMWPanel shall contribute for 20-30 per cent cost-saving and 50-60 per cent construction period shortening,” said Mr Liu in a past interview, adding that the precast elements can be applied in construction of apartments, villas, office buildings, shopping malls, schools, hospitals and highway bridges.

The factory, which has an annual production capacity of 20,000 houses, hopes to bridge the country’s housing supply gap that now stands at about 200,000 houses a year.