Nigerian Concrete Block Report – GEMS2

GEMS2 report on batch mixing technology

The following is a report by GEMS2 technical director Ronald Ashkin concerning the introduction of batch fed mixer technology in Nigeria. The GEMS2 program is funded by UKaid (DFID) with the objective of improving the economic stability and employment opportunities in Africa. In doing this work GEMS is greatly improving the quality of the concrete supply systems in this region. 90% of Nigerian construction projects use concrete block.

Beneficial Innovation

The benefits of innovative new-to-Nigeria concrete block making technology were demonstrated to 150 enthusiastic block makers at pilot sites in Lagos and Abuja in late May and early June 2013. The invited block makers, ranging from owners of small and medium block making enterprises to informal roadside block makers and their associates, were evidently impressed as the operation of the batch mixers was demonstrated to them: 86% of respondents to the post demonstration survey agreed that the equipment demonstrated would solve their problems with quality, and 96% said they had never seen the technology before.

Nigerian block mixing machineThe batch mixers are beneficial in creating strong, uniform and consistently high quality concrete blocks versus traditional methods of block making for a number of reasons. First, the batch mixers fill by volume using uniform ‘batch buckets’ to ensure that the ratio of cement to gravel and sand is the same each time. Traditional methods use shovels, head pans, and wheelbarrows to measure, resulting in quality variations from batch to batch. Second, the batch mixer ensures a uniform and thoroughly mixed concrete; usually mixing is done by hand using shovels which takes more time and results in a less thoroughly mixed and thus poorer quality block. Third, the machine has a generator and thus does not rely on the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) which has frequent blackouts and is often not available at all on site.

Improving efficiency

The GEMS2 introduced batch mixer therefore increases the efficiency of concrete block production by utilizing a well-engineered, robust batch mixer that is affordable to buy and run and produces more high quality, greater value blocks in a given time than traditional modes of production thus resulting in increased incomes.

GEMS2 is acting as the pioneer for this new-to-Nigeria, and indeed new-to-Africa technology, thus removing the risk from market players. In May 2013, two batch mixers were bought from Cart-Away Systems of Oregon, USA and placed on site with the Abuja based Afro Blocks, a private sector block making company with a significant network in the construction sector, and the National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria (NABMON) in Lagos.

In order to retain the batch mixers after the pilot, 200 block makers must be demonstrated the technology over a 6-month period. In this initial round of demonstrations Scott Crist, the consultant from Cart-Away Systems, was present to assist with the batch mixer delivery and installation, provide training to users and discuss distribution possibilities with local market players – part of the longer term sustainability and scale-up of this pilot project. In total 150 representatives, who employ 809 workers (of which 115 are women) from various block making firms, attended making the market potential of the new batch mixer technology extremely significant and demonstrating great potential for scalability.

Visible quality improvements

During the demonstration attendees commented on the immediate and visible difference in block quality and the high quality of the machine itself that is simply engineered, well-built, easy and economical to operate. Indeed, one block maker remarked that he currently owns a Chinese built pan mixer that it is extremely unreliable and requires its electric motor to be regularly repaired or replaced – having visited his site later that week members of the GEMS2 team were humored and troubled to find a pile of unusable rusted Chinese built construction machines in the corner of his yard.

Nigerian blockLeft: block made with new batch mixer
Right: hand-mixed block

To ensure this pioneering pilot project is scalable and sustainable and with 41% of respondents interested in buying the equipment within the next 12 months and an additional 53% possibly interested, GEMS2 is working hard to facilitate market led financing options for the initial purchase of the batch mixer and demonstrate the clear financial benefits to this mode of more efficient production.

First, the batch mixer is affordable and due to increased production and block value can easily be paid for in a few months. Second, GEMS2 is working with NABMON to understand the possibility of group financing and grants to support the initial cost of the batch mixers. Third, time studies of the batch mixer and the higher value of the block demonstrate significant potential in increased incomes and jobs for the poor.

GEMS2 is enabling the introduction of pioneering batch mixing technology to active market players in order to increase incomes through a more efficient and modern production technique, meanwhile providing a source of local high quality building input materials in order to help tackle building collapse in Nigeria.
We thank GEMS2 for the photos in this report… MORE TO COME

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About cementtrust

I am a director with Cement Trust and passionate about improving cement-based production in the poorest nations of the world.
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10 Responses to Nigerian Concrete Block Report – GEMS2

  1. jim wixswon says:

    Bruce,
    very nice site. Looking forward to your report.
    Hope you get a forum set up.
    Carry on!
    Jim Wixson

  2. Tom B says:

    Hi,

    I could not have found cement trust and in particular, this article at a better time. I am in the process of setting up a block-making enterprise, so this information changes a lot in terms of my thinking on equipment purchase.

    Any idea how much the equipment costs, and are they now available to purchase in Nigeria.

    Thanks,
    Tom

    • cementtrust says:

      Tom,
      Thank you for you interest in setting up a block-making business with the appropriate systems. The quality of the concrete block is critical to the security of those who build in Nigeria and we are glad that you are recognizing this fact. I have sent your contact information to the people who are working on this project in Nigeria. Good luck with your enterprise and we hope to learn more of your efforts as you move forward.

  3. FRED says:

    Hi,

    Please I need more information on this equipment. I am working on setting up a block making factory. Something a bit upscale. I am looking at equipment from Europe – UK and Germany as well as South Africa. could you please get me more information on the people who brought this equipment to Nigeria.

    Also, I will like to get in touch with Mr. Ronald Ashkin of GEM2. I checked him out when I saw his article of bricks for Nigeria. I am doing a research I would like his assistance with. I have called the number listed for at the GEM website as well as his email but the mail was returned and the number did not go.

    Thanks

  4. Hi,
    Please I am also in the process of setting up a block-making enterprise, this information has also changed a lot in terms of my thinking on equipment purchase.

    I need to make so important decisions about my venture. How much the equipment costs, and are they now available to purchase in Nigeria?

    Thanks,

  5. DIRBOL says:

    Hi,
    Please I am also in the process of setting up a block-making enterprise, this information has also changed a lot in terms of my thinking on equipment purchase too

    I need to make so important decisions about my venture. How much the equipment costs, and are they now available to purchase in Nigeria?

    and @Abdulhamid Muhammad, would it be possible to have copy of your business plan, i am also writing one but having some difficulties, cheers

    @admin, kindly provide my email to Abdulhamid Muhammad to enable me have a copy of what i requested

    Thanks,

  6. Samuel Olusola says:

    This is a good innovation. I’m a prospective new entrant in the block making industry and would like to know:”How much does a complete unit of this batch mixer cost,where and how can it be purchased”.I will also love to have a link on how to havean interactive session with representatives of GEMS2..Awaiting a response please

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