The West Africa Built Environment Research (WABER) Conference was founded in November 2008 through an initiative of the School of Construction Management and Engineering, University of Reading, UK.

The original objective of the WABER conference was to provide a vehicle for the development of built environment research in West Africa through giving young researchers and early-career scholars an outlet for developing their research work and skills through constructive face-to-face interaction with experienced international academics and their peers; and to supply a platform for networking and collaboration among more senior academics. Today WABER has grown into a full-fledged conference hosting about 150 people at each annual conference. This facilitates meaningful interaction between construction academics, researchers and practitioners.

The first WABER conference took place in Accra, Ghana, in June 2009 in the form of a West Africa Built Environment Research Seminar. Over the course of two days, 32 young researchers presented their work to an audience of ~100 people. Each presenter received immediate and constructive feedback from the audience and a panel of international academics comprising of Professor Will Hughes, Dr Roine Leiringer and Dr Samuel Laryea. At the following conference in July 2010 the presentation slots were opened up to more experienced academics. Over 67 presentations were given and the event brought together 120 researchers from the region and an additional 80 people from industry. The WABER 2011 conference that took place in July 2011had 206 abstracts submitted, which resulted in 107 papers, of which 93 were presented to an audience of ~160 people. The WABER 2012 in Abuja, Nigeria on 27-28 July attracted ~160 people and 120 papers.

Thus, the WABER conference is now firmly established as the primary conference in Africa connected with the built environment field and research in university departments such as architecture, building, civil engineering, construction management, real estate and property, quantity surveying, and urban and regional planning. The positive feedback from participants who attended our initial conferences is what provided the encouragement to sustain the initiative.

Since our establishment in 2008, we have successfully organised four international conferences that have brought together more than 400 built environment academics, researchers and practitioners from countries in Africa to discuss their latest research and knowledge for addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the construction industry. We currently have 50+ institutions in the WABER network comprising mainly of universities and polytechnics.

This network of institutions and people has enabled us to pursue a number of initiatives including the development of a new textbook on “Construction in West Africa” launched at the WABER 2012 conference in Abuja, Nigeria. Our annual conferences have also enabled us to publish more than 300 research papers that are supplying some of the knowledge required to improve the construction sector in Africa. In 2011, we organised research seminars for lecturers and students in six polytechnic across Ghana and donated key textbooks to their libraries as a means of supporting construction students. We also visited six leading universities in Nigeria in 2011 to interact with staff and students in built environment departments. More needs to be done in the coming years to help improve the built environment field and construction industry in Africa. The story of WABER just goes to show what we can collectively achieve when we join forces and work together.


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West Africa Built Environment Research Conference 2017

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