Paint makers scramble for real estate, road expansion projects

By Achieng’ Ooko

With an upsurge in the number of new buildings and an increase in road projects, paint manufacturers market is expanding fast.

As cities grow and more people move in search of jobs, demand for houses has gone up, necessitating a decongestion.

A good example is Nairobi where commercial office space has been set up away from the Central Business District and the establishment of new satellite estates around Nairobi.

Residential estates that are coming up fast include Syokimau off Mombasa Road, Utawala, Ruai and the expansion of others such along the Thika and Kiambu areas.

Cement consumption, a key indicator of the activity in the construction sector, increased by 12.6 per cent between September 2009 and September, last year, according to figures released by the Kenya National Bureau of statistics.

Overall, the construction sector which supports the use of paint expanded by 14.6 per cent over the same period. To exploit this market and maximise returns, Crown Berger Kenya, a dominant player in the premium paints market has shifted attention to the low-end segment.

Crown Berger Managing Director Rakesh Rao says the company is keen in establishing a niche in this segment because it is the fastest growing area in the building and construction business. The list of low-priced paints for the economy class introduced by the company includes fortified products, economy floor, roof and wall paints, thinners and undercoats.

Its entry into the low-priced paints segment comes amid an influx of cheap counterfeit brands in the market. The company is using all means, including services of retired police officers to raid suspected chemical plants.

While Crown is consolidating its position in the local market, it has also set sights on the East African Community market.

"We have the capacity to export to the region as well as Sudan, Congo and Ethiopia," said Rao.

Last year, Crown Berger also introduced its own road marking paint into the market. With an increase in the number of roads to accommodate traffic that is quickly building up in the city, more paint manufacturers have joined the market.

Roads Minister Franklin Bett this week called on road contractors to meet high quality road marking standards to minimise the number of accidents on our roads.

Road expansion

He was speaking with regard to major infrastructure development projects especially in the roads sector being undertaken by the Government. One such project is the ongoing expansion of Thika road and the planned upgrade of Mombasa road.

Mr Bett urged contractors not to overlook the paint component, and invest in quality paints to sustain efforts and gains made in producing world-class roads.

Basco Paints Limited has already grabbed the opportunity to distribute road-marking paints in the country. The company has partnered with Ennis Prismo, a leading manufacturers of road marking products and road safety systems in the world to distribute road-marking paints.

The partnership, which will see Basco paints become the exclusive distributor of road marking paints.

The firm will also distribute other road accessories throughout East Africa, Southern Sudan and Congo where it also has operations.