Ethiopia: New Building Code Under Construction

Some fear the construction industry will not be able to afford the costs that come with the new code

Ethiopia's existing 18 year-old building code is being replaced by a new one, soon to be adopted by the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction (MoUDC). The new code is to be modelled on existing building codes in Europe, the US and Singapore.

The Ministry tasked the Addis Abeba Institute of Technology (AAIT), in January 2012, to produce the draft for a fee of 2.6 million Br. A team of 50 professionals, including professors, contractors and architects from across the capital, have been working on the document. The draft, which was commenced in March 2012, has 58 parts broken-up under 14 standard code headers. The Institute presented eight of the 58 parts to the Ministry on April 9, 2013.

"We expect the whole draft within 45 days," Yoseph Birru (Dr), head of the Construction Industry Development and Regulatory Bureau of the MoUDC, said.

The Ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the European Union's (EU) European Standardization Committee in 2011. The Ministry was provided with the EU's building code, which was last updated in 2010. The terms of the Memorandum do not allow the Ministry to change the name of the document, Euro-Code, nor to make changes to the code itself.

The terms of the MoU only permit the Ministry to add annexes or to fill in figures that are specific to Ethiopia.

The new code, or Euro-Code, takes into consideration earthquake and wind effects, which in turn require new designing codes, the use of more re-bars in construction and bigger structural frameworks in buildings, Yoseph explained.

"Blocs are heavy and must be supported by a strong structure," he explained. "It is going to be extremely difficult to calculate how much more material will be required."

"The code does not take into consideration the current financial capacity of the construction sector in the country; before moving forward, the draft code should be debated," said Hailu Zeleke, general manger of Avi Medi Construction PLC.

Hailu was not aware of the code. Hailu's fear rests on the extra costs to be incurred because of the metal scaffolding and other extra materials likely to be used.

The code spells out in detail the quality and strength of blocs and materials to be used in future construction. Builders will also have to use metal scaffolding, instead of wooden ones.

Damte Welde, general manager of Life Consult PLC and president of the Ethiopian Architects & Consultants Association (EACA) feels differently.

"Points in the three new codes are crucially important; the use of helmets and shoes during construction must start," he said.

The new code will also require owners to acquire usage licenses, which specifies that the building has been constructed according to the submitted design and that it is rented out only for its intended use.

In order to select qualified human power in the sector, the Ethiopian Professional Architects & Engineers Association will start giving timely professional tests and certify graduates, if and when the code goes into practice. According to Yoseph, this is likely to happen in the 2013/14 fiscal year.

"Graduates become practicing professional engineers in Ethiopia after doing a design," said Yoseph. "It is too big a title and that trend is not practical even in other countries that have no European code."

"It took European countries 20 years to develop the code and it is tested," said Yoseph.

A draft to establish a Construction Council, which will manage the implementation of the code, is also underway. The Council will oversee the construction sector and bind it to the uniform standards provided by the Euro-Code.

The complete draft will be presented to the Ethiopian Standardisation Agency before it is sent for ratification by a national secretariat under the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCiT).


Source :

Posted on : 30 Nov,-0001

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