Roofing sheets output hits 5-year low

Galvanised sheets are increasingly facing competition from wide use of roofing tiles.
Galvanised sheets are increasingly facing competition from wide use of roofing tiles. PHOTO/FILE
Kenya’s galvanised sheets production was at its weakest in five years in the first seven months of this year, the latest official statistics show.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics figures show that the output of iron and steel sheets fell to 142,205 tonnes in the year to July from 161,596 tonnes during a similar period last year — the lowest level since 2010 when production stood at 118,616 tonnes.

According to industry players, the sharp drop is attributable to the fast growth in the usage of tiles and shingles as more home-owners seek to improve the visual appeal of their homes.

The National Construction Authority chairman Steven Oundo was Monday quoted by the Business Daily as saying that galvanised sheets makers were scaling back their output in response to the latest market trends.

“Galvanised sheets are increasingly facing competition from wide use of roofing tiles and shingles. By cutting production, manufacturers are only responding to market trends,” he said.

Mr Oundo said that the description of high-end houses, especially those in towns, was quickly changing to mean those roofed with shingles or tiles.

However, a majority of first time home-owners in various parts of the country are still opting for galvanised sheets as opposed to tiles and shingles because the latter are more expensive.

The price of a galvanised sheet ranges between Sh300 and Sh490 per metre depending on the brand and thickness. On the other hand shingles retail for about Sh1,450 per square metre although the cost rises to about Sh2,000 when an overlap and underlay made from recycled plastic is included.

The increasing investment in the low cost housing market segment is expected to boost production of roofing sheets in the near future since the products are mainly used on low income homes.

Multiple developers have entered into the affordable housing market – which was previously viewed as unprofitable – amid growing demand for such homes across the country.

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