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Construction experts key to building economic growth in developing countries – University of Reading

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Construction experts key to building economic growth in developing countries

Release Date 21 October 2013

mining in rural Ghana

Construction experts from around the world gathered at the University of Reading recently to examine how the sector can help build economic growth in developing countries.

The two-day workshop, sponsored by the British Council¹, brought together delegates representing construction contractors, architects, academics and researchers from countries including Sudan, Kazakhstan, China and Brazil. A crucial outcome from was the formation of a new network of researchers who will meet annually to report on issues and present new research opportunities from their respective countries.


According to the United Nations ‘nearly all future population growth will be in the world's less developed countries'. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts developing countries are set to account for nearly 60% of world GDP by 2030. However issues such as water supply, poor infrastructure, health and safety and corruption threaten the sustainability of developing countries, and in turn the world economy.

Dr Tabarak Ballal from the University of Reading's School of Construction Management and Engineering organised the workshop. She said: "The challenges facing developing and emerging economies are diverse. One billion people lack access to safe drinking water, 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation and 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases². It is imperative developing countries work closely with leaders in areas such as construction as they can help secure their economic future."

The workshop attracted high-profile attendees included keynote speaker Mr Gil-Hong Kim, Director of Sustainable Infrastructure Division of the Asian Development Bank.

Mr Gil-Hong Kim said: "Environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive development in Asia and the Pacific will be critical to determine the future development path of the global community. This will require a revisit to a "business-as-usual" approach in the whole process of infrastructure planning, design and management. In addition to innovative financing schemes, the right policy, good governance and human resource development should be priorities for sustainable infrastructure development. I am very pleased to participate in discussions at this very timely workshop."

Mr Jonathan Mitchell, Head of Economic Growth at Coffey International Development, also attended.


Mr Mitchell commented: "The conference was excellent, a real breath of fresh air with practitioners, academics and industry actors together in the same room - exploring practical ways that the construction sector can be a sharper focus for development in emerging economies."


Further information from University of Reading Press Office on +44 (0) 118 378 7391/7115 or

Notes to Editors

¹ The workshop was sponsored by the British Council in Sudan under the Sudan Higher Education Quality Improvement Programme (SHEQuIP) and endorsed by the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB - W107 Construction in Developing Countries).




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