Local construction materials available are abundant. These include building sand, masonry stone, ballast, timber, cement, ceramic tiles, paint, steel rebar and clay/concrete roofing tiles.
These offer a source of employment to hundreds of thousands of Kenyans. In the stone mining and extraction industry alone, we can guestimate at least 10000 people employed directly in Juja, 8000 people in the kiserian/Isinya/Kitengela/Rongai quarres, 10000 people in the coastlal coral stone quarries and another 10,000 people in the Kericho/Kedowa and Nakuru quarries.
The number of people employed in the sand harvesting industry, mainly in Machakos, Kajiado and Naivasha areas is even higher. Same case with employees in the ballast extraction businesses.
The timber industry in Kenya is also a source of livelihood to hundreds of thousands of Kenyans, from the farmers who plant the eucalyptus and cyprus trees, to the saw millers, timber yard sales people and finally to the fundis and carpenters who earn from offering specialized carpentry skills to the public.
The cement industry is also huge. Thousands of people are employed in the limestone mines in Garissa, Pokot areas. There are also thousands employed in the gypsum mines transportation industry. The cement factories also employ a further huge number to process the cement. The cement re-sellers in the hardware shops and the fundis who work on cement products also benefit greatly from this industry.
At least 2 million people are employed directly from the local construction materials industry form my guestimations.
Most of the residential units in Kenya, mainly the low and middle class category, are the main consumers of the local materials. High end houses tend to have large fractions of materials coming from outside the country.
The reason is the fact that for the low and middle class buildings, cost is of essence, and since local materials are usually of less cost than imported ones, the local materials win over in the price wars. In high end buildings, cost os not a critical consideration. Other factors such as style, fashion, aesthetic appeal, uniqueness and quality come into play.
Of late, high end buildings have recently started to embrace local materials, with cut mazeras being in the forefront of this. The recent car park at the Junction mall is cladded with local mazeras stones. Also, the recently completed buildings along Ralph Bunche road in Upper Hill such as the Mayfair centre, have utilised Mazeras stones for the cladding in the driveway areas.
New paint brands imported into the country such as Jotun are making headway , eating into the already established brand names such as crown paints.
Architect Francis Gichuhi Kamau,