East Africa construction equipment market readies for a net zero carbon future

Crushing Static & Mobile / December 22, 2023
By Shadrack Kavilu
Ballast loading at a crushing plant in Katani, Machakos county, Kenya. Pic: Shadrack Kavilu

As countries commit to a net zero carbon future, regional quarrying and construction industries such as East Africa are increasingly facing scrutiny of their efforts to decarbonise heavy equipment. This situation has made original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and distribution partners reassess and extend their sustainability agendas, including in East Africa, where more green-minded equipment technology-led partnerships are being struck to better meet the demands of decarbonisation-focused customers. Shadrack Kavilu reports


East African construction and quarrying equipment dealers who used to enjoy sole authorised dealership relationships with global OEMs have entered multiple OEM partnerships over the past two years to ensure they can keep up with surging regional market demand for low-carbon, technology-driven equipment.


Industry experts believe the new norm of single dealer-multiple OEM agreements will soon become routine as the demand for greener energy-efficient machines continues to rise.

Metso Kenya
A Metso crusher on an East African quarry site. Pic: Shadrack Kavilu-Metso



“In the wake of these technologies, dealers will have to change their business models and supply different equipment brands to survive,” says Alex Kamore, a civil engineer and a contractor, who notes that customers are also cottoning onto the lower operating cost and optimal production benefits that more sustainable equipment can provide.


According to a Global Alliance for Building and Construction report, the global building and construction sector accounted for over 34% of energy demand and around 37% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021. 


The report says the sector’s operational energy-related CO2 emissions reached ten gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2020. According to the report, the sector is not on track to decarbonise the world’s building industry by 2050. 


The influential report also highlights that African raw resource use is predicted to double by 2060, with steel and concrete already major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. 


In Africamaterials used in the construction of buildings already account for around 9% of overall energy-related CO2 emissions, with steel and cement industries accounting for 38% of African greenhouse emissions.


To align themselves towards reducing greenhouse emissions, construction companies (OEMs) and equipment dealers, particularly in East Africa, are changing their mode of operations by signing new dealership partnerships to supply energy-efficient and smart technology construction equipment to a sector responsible for significant CO2 emissions.


Globally, construction equipment is estimated to generate around 400 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, representing roughly 1.1% of global emissions; consequently, decarbonisation of non-road mobile machines is considered an important factor in efforts to limit global climate change, according to a recent report by IDTechEX.

A Global Alliance for Building and Construction report states that the world's building and construction sector accounted for over 34% of energy demand and around 37% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021 Pic: Shadrack Kavilu. 


OEMs that have inked new dealerships in Africa include Metso Outotec and Panafrican Equipment Group, which signed a distribution agreement for Metso’s stationary and mobile crushing and screening equipment for the aggregates and mining customers segments.


The agreement covers Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, where Panafrican Equipment Group already has an extensive and established presence in the construction and mining businesses. 


“We believe that our cooperation with Panafrican Equipment Group will help us improve our service towards our customers who invest in equipment and also better support them in the aftermarket side,” said Olli-Pekka Oksanen, SVP of Global Distribution Management in the Aggregates business area at Metso who was quoted by local dailies.


“Panafrican sought a comprehensive crushing solution to complement our product offering across all our markets. The Metso product line provides us with a product line that is the market leader in crushing and screening,” says Scott McCaw, CEO of Panafrican Equipment Group.


Given the huge growth potential in the African construction industry, which in 2020 was valued at roughly USD$5.4 billion and had the potential to register a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.4, the region is likely to witness more partnerships in equipment dealers as companies strategically position themselves to take a pie of the booming construction industry.

Quarry worker
A quarry worker moving material before drilling at County 45 Quarry in Kisii, Kenya. Pic: Shadrack Kavilu



Astec, a US-headquartered road construction, mining and quarrying equipment manufacturer, has also inked a new distribution partnership with Unatrac. This move will increase their presence to their mining and quarry customers in Unatrac territories.


As part of the strategic alliance, Unatrac, including Mantrac and Delta groups, will offer sales and support services in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda for all equipment in Astec's Material Solutions division.


This division encompasses Astec’s premium range of crushers, screens and feeders, washing, classifying and material handling solutions, modular plants and rock breaker technology that has a strong reputation for its technology, quality and reliability. 


“Our aim is to offer mines and quarries in our Unatrac territories a full package, from earth moving equipment to crushing plants,” said Muhammad Eltobshy, Group Technical Manager at Unatrac. 


But while construction companies are racing to embrace new technology, challenges abound as they grapple with transferring knowledge and skills to local technicians and operators.


A growing number of dealers in partnership with OEMs are increasingly setting up training institutions across the East Africa region to equip workers with the necessary skills and knowledge to operate these new machines and opening up after-sales centres to ensure a smooth digital transition.

Astec VSI
Astec has a new distribution partnership with Unatrac, covering Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Pic: Astec



The Panafrican Group has partnered with The College Of The Rockies (COTR) to create the Prior Learning Recognition Program that will award their Technicians the Canadian Certification equivalent to the industry standards as set in the Canadian Red Seal Program.


“All our technicians in East and West Africa will work to these excellence standards, resulting in improved customer service and support,” said Eltobshy.

For more information on companies in this article