‘Use technology to improve housing’

1 October 2010

The Department of Human Settlements is on a quest to find new technologies that are both cost-effective and quality-oriented to provide better housing for poorer South Africans.

The technology needs to be environmentally friendly, sustainable and address other challenges facing housing in the country, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said this week during the department’s Alternative Building Technologies Indaba in Johannesburg.

The two-day indaba brought together officials from all spheres of government, the private sector, regulatory authorities, scientific, research and tertiary institutions.

Sexwale called on delegates to ensure that the indaba was more than just a “talk shop”, urging them to make it a productive working session that would give rise to ideas that could be implemented.

Green solutions

Sexwale said his department was looking for new ways of building better homes, which included new green solutions and mechanisms for responding to climate change.

He elaborated that the department was looking for new ideas on issues such as internal electrification, solar panels, improved sanitation, heating and water reticulation systems, and durable roofing.

Technology that benefited people needed to be both cost-effective and sustainable, he said. However, the minister stressed that while the department was cost-conscious and looking for cheaper material, quality would not be compromised.

Sexwale added that the focus of his department was to build sustainable human settlements. He described these as places where people “stay, play and pray”. The minister said that this integrated approach was aimed at developing proper suburbs, villages and towns.

Rapid urbanisation

Sexwale said that some old technologies that had produced houses that stood strong over centuries should not be ignored. Modern technology needed to complement and build on century-old initiatives.

New technologies should also assist in the identification of available land, the minister added.

“Given rapid urbanisation and the rate of population growth, with the diminishing availability of land in relation to the growing number of people, it means we have to apply new technologies to build better homes,” he said.

Sexwale said South Africa also needed to pay attention to the experience of other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, China, Angola and Equatorial Guinea, which have made significant strides in the area of human settlements.

Source: BuaNews