HIS RURAL BACKGROUND IN ZAMBIA’S WESTERN PROVINCE INSPIRED BRIAN KUWEMA, AN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIST, TO EXPLORE CONSTRUCTION

Brian Kuwema grew up in the rural parts of Zambia, an experience he says inspired him to start up a construction company that would enable him be part of infrastructure development in Western Province, his home. He founded Cottonside Construction and Supplies Limited in 2020, a company that was born out of the need to develop Zambia as well as be one of the few companies focusing on the development of Western Province. The company was registered in Lusaka although its main focus is Western Province where they have successfully managed projects in Nkeyema and Luampa. Cottonside Construction & Suppliers Limited, a grade 6 National Council for Construction (NCC) and Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) registered company, boasts of a very experienced management team with more than 15 years of combined work experience ranging from business development, civil engineering, and electrical engineering to commodity trading.

Some of the works Cottonside has successfully done include installation of culverts and supply of building materials for a market shelter. They have also worked on a number of residential property in Kaoma and Lusaka districts. Other than construction, the company also supplies mechanical pumps/ valves, personal protective equipment, electrical appliances/ parts, installations, civil works and commodity trading.

When asked about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Cottonside Construction and Supplies Limited, Mr Kuwema had this to say:

“The pandemic has affected the company both positively and negatively. When works stalled, we were given chance to re-strategize and read more on managing a construction company. Posts on The Lady Engineer Facebook Page were also very helpful.”

Brian Kuwema

Mr Kuwema is very grateful to the NCC for their continued effort to improve the Zambian construction industry through provision of trainings in various disciplines of construction and engineering. He believes in networking and collaboration and therefore, endeavours to attend EIZ meetings especially those delivered via Zoom. He also belongs to an association called Indigenous Zambian Contractors Association which acts as a union and mouthpiece for Zambian contractors. “One of the benefits of being a part of this association is the fact that it helps build capacity for small construction companies; it emphasises on collaboration and subcontracting of works by big Zambian construction companies to small companies”, Brian said.

Among the many things he wishes to see happen in the construction industry soon is the involvement of many professionals. Mr Kuwema believes that the increment in value of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) by the Zambian Government needs consented efforts from professionals to assure quality of works and to also minimize finger pointing. “Contractors need guidance, said Brian.” He also appealed to the procurement personnel especially those in the public sector to make their adverts clear because misleading information can cause frustration hence making some companies refrain from bidding for construction works. “For example, documents that are not clearly stated in the advert and/ or bidding document as requirements should not be grounds for disqualifying a contractor, he said.” Bills of Quantities issued out should also be as comprehensive as possible in order to lessen confusion and possibility of unnecessary addenda which only lengthen the tendering process. Further, Brian also said that feedback is very cardinal and that procurement personnel should endeavour to give feedback to failing contractors and point out their reasons for failure so that they improve the next time they bid.

Cottonside Construction and Supplies Limited is situated at Gemini House, Cairo Road, Lusaka. To contact them, call: +260 955 406 132 or +260 977 160 294


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