Chinese prefabs builder opens factory in Nairobi

Workers at a construction site.
Workers assemble a precast wall of an apartment. PHOTO/FILE
Hong Kong Building Centre, a Chinese wall panels firm, has opened a prefab housing factory in Nairobi targeting builders keen on reducing construction costs.

The factory, which is located along Mombasa Road has a capacity to produce a million square metres of walling a year.

“Our operations are still in early stages but we expect to double production from the current 500,000 sq metres of wall panels and add more jobs by end of the year,” said the proprietor Feng Hui.

Hong Kong Building Centre joins Mabati Rolling Mills (MRM) and the National Housing Corporation (NHC) which have set up facilities to produce low-cost building materials.

Roofing maker MRM has been supplying ready-made steel houses to its customers since 2011.

The walls of the company’s prefabricated houses have an option of being completed using iron sheets, wood, bricks or mud depending on the preferences of the customer.

On the other hand, NHC has set up a Sh700 million factory in Machakos County to produce expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels to be used in the construction of low cost houses.

READ: NHC factory makes affordable housing a reality

The EPS panels are made of insulating materials such as cement or concrete sandwiched between two wood skins and have potential to replace customary brick and mortar construction.

Property developers have lauded the technology saying it is the only way to counter the current housing shortage.

“It will reduce the time taken to build a house to three weeks and slash construction cost by between 20 and 45 per cent,” said James Kanyora, a property developer based in Kasarani.

Statistics show that the housing supply in the country is about 40,000 units a year against an annual demand of more than 200,000 units – leaving a deficit of 160,000 housing units.