The private sector in Uganda plays a key role in achieving sustainable socio-economic development in the country. It accounts for 90 percent of employment in Uganda and contributed 80 percent to GDP in the FY 2015/2016. The Government of Uganda recognizes its significance in that the third National Development Plan (NDP III) 2020/21 – 2024/25, calls for strengthening the private sector’s capacity to drive growth. With the private sector dominating the building and construction sector, it is important to build its capacity in building laws, physical development plans and green buildings. This will increase compliance with the building laws and mitigate the construction of unauthorized structures in incompatible areas and in protected zones.
On Tuesday 6th September 2022, GGGI in partnership with NBRB, held a training workshop for 20 members of the private sector. These included; construction companies such as Armstrong consultants, building material manufacturers such as Hima Cement, building material suppliers such as hardware owners and small scale builders. The aim of the training was first, to promote the concept of green buildings in line with the PDP provisions and national building laws/regulations. Secondly, it was to build the capacity of the private sector to understand and apply green building approaches to new structures and retrofit existing ones. The private sector companies were carefully chosen because of the significant work they are doing in the built environment and their potential to champion the uptake of sustainable practices in the industry.
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Ronald McGill, the project lead for Greening Uganda’s Urbanization and Industrialization project, stated that under 30 percent of buildings in Uganda are approved. These approved buildings are also built in a half-hazard manner. He, therefore, emphasized the importance of turning ideas into a new, ‘greening’ working reality. He added that it is through engagements such as these that barriers are overcome and capacities are enhanced in the private sector to implement green growth principles.
The private sector expressed great willingness to implement the idea of green buildings. However, it meets several challenges. First, the clients are often skeptical of such innovative strategies. They claim that it is risky to diverge from mainstream practices whose performance and return on investment are well-established. Secondly, the physical planning of the areas prohibits sustainable practices. For example, orientation is dictated by the access roads. Minimal plot sizes mean that all the trees must be cleared for the building. Improper land use makes it difficult to predict if a developer can take advantage of the mass shading of a future project or whether the orientation of the building will be towards an undesirable future view.
To overcome these challenges, the business case for green buildings must be emphasized and popularized in the private sector, as well as with the public. The government could also introduce incentives to increase the uptake of green buildings., These include soft loans, tax credits, tax reductions on energy-saving equipment or expedited permitting processes for sustainable building projects. Building the capacity of government officials, especially at the city council and municipal levels, on the regulation and enforcement of physical development plans, will promote proper land use practices. Finally, a massive and sustained awareness must be delivered to generate appreciation and the uptake of green practices across the entire spectrum of stakeholders.
The author is Ms. Hilda Nankya, a Green Buildings Consultant with GGGI Uganda.