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The three day West Africa Built Environment Research (WABER) Conference 2012 was held on the 24th to 26th July, 2012 at the National Merit Award House in Abuja, Nigeria. It was a pleasure to host this conference in Abuja because this was our first time of hosting the conference outside of Ghana and also because most of our delegates come from Nigeria. Abuja is a beautiful city.

An opening address was given by Professor Will Hughes (Editor-in-chief of Construction Management and Economics Journal and Professor of Construction Management and Economics, University of Reading, UK) after a brief welcome by Dr Samuel Laryea. The conference featured keynote addresses, doctoral sessions, a research skills session and parallel sessions in which various authors presented their papers.

Socialization sessions were held each day after conference, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Nicon Luxury and Sheraton Abuja Hotel respectively. In attendance were built environment academics, researchers and practitioners from about 60 institutions and 6 different countries.

The main highlight of the WABER 2012 Conference was the launching of our WABER book on “Construction in West Africa”. The book was written by ten academics of West African origin based in six different countries. This contribution was an example of what we can achieve when we work together and combine our ideas.

It was reported at the conference that 2011 was a busy year for WABER because of visits to institutions in Ghana and Nigeria where our delegates come from.  In January 2011, some members of our WABER team visited built environment departments in six polytechnics and two universities in Ghana to interact with lecturers and postgraduate students and deliver research workshops.  We also donated textbooks to some departmental libraries as a means of supporting students and teaching and learning activities. In August 2011, Sam Laryea visited six universities in Nigeria which enabled us to interact directly with staff and students in built environment departments. These visits were instrumental in promoting closer interaction with our friends in various institutions.

The 2012 conference itself was attended by about 110 people. The conference proceedings consisted of 125 papers. We initially received and screened 278 abstracts with the help of our Scientific Committee.  182 full papers were eventually submitted and each went through a peer review process.   The papers accepted for publication represented around 68% of full papers received.  While the authors did a good job, the members of our scientific also supported us greatly. The work done by the 56 members of our Scientific Committee and 84 members of our Review Panel ensure a rigorous review process which contributed to the quality of papers published.

The published papers covered a wide array of topics including: Building services, Construction design and technology, Construction economics, Construction finance, Contract law, Contracting, Contract administration, Decision support systems, Economic development, Engineering, Energy, Environment, Facilities Management, Health and safety, Housing, Human resources and skills, Information technology, Materials science, Procurement, Project management, Quantity surveying, Real estate and planning, Risk management, Supply chain management, Sustainable technologies, Urban development.

An important and impressive statistic from the conference was that the 329 authors of the papers in our 2012 conference proceedings came from 87 different institutions and 10 different countries. This provided plenty of opportunity for cross-boundary learning. It also provided for a rich intellectual, international and multicultural blend and platform for networking and developing new knowledge and longer-term collaborations.

At the conference we awarded a Micheletti & Co. Ltd Prize for Best Masters Research Dissertation which was an initiative to recognise and encourage younger researchers. The Micheletti & Co prize for Best Masters Research Dissertation was presented on the final day of the conference. Various submissions were received on themes including; Sustainable construction, Energy efficiency, Construction costs, Construction procurement, Urban development, Materials science, human resources management, Building maintenance, Architecture & design, among others. 6 dissertations were shortlisted by our review panel. The paper titles were:

  1. An appraisal of the effectiveness of contingency sum as a risk management tool in building projects in Abuja by Akanji Aina Motolani from University of Jos, Nigeria
  2. Comparative performance evaluation of building projects procurement methods in North Central, Nigeria by Otali Monday from University of Jos, Nigeria
  3. The Ecological Services of Anurans and Lizards in West African Savannas: Assessing Effects of Land-Use Change by Gilbert Baase Adum from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  4. Susceptibility of building elements to variation in construction projects in Nigeria by Solomon Olusola Babatunde from Obafemi Awolowo University
  5. Development of an Automated System for Extracting Material Specifications and Quantities from Building Information Models by Aiyeleso Abdulmalik from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria
  6. An appraisal of therapeutic performance of Teaching Hospitals in North-Western Nigeria by Mukhtar Adamu Dandajeh from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria

After a careful review by our review panel, the paper titled “Development of an Automated System for Extracting Material Specifications and Quantities from Building Information Models” by Abdulmalik Aiyeleso was selected as the best M.Sc. dissertation. Abdulmalik was at the time a student of the Quantity Surveying Department of Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria.

In term of partnership and sponsors, we received support from a number of individuals and organizations: Vector Morrison Ghana Ltd; A-Kon Consults Limited (Ghana); Oladele Construction Ltd (Nigeria); K+H Limited (Ghana); HLB Ltd (Ghana); Laurus Development Partners; PPMC Ltd (Ghana); Micheletti and Co. Ltd; Mr. Michael Kwadwo Frimpong (President of the Africa Association of Quantity Surveyors (AAQS)); Mr. Afolabi Abdulsalam Dania (University of Reading, UK); Professor Kabir Bala (Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria); and Professor Stella Zubairu.

A common tradition at academic conferences is to have keynote speakers. We were blessed to have some really experienced international academics in the persons of: Professor Roger Flanagan (University of Reading, UK) who delivered his keynote address by video conference; Dr Roine Leiringer (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong); Dr Chris Harty (University of Reading, UK); Professor Stella Zubairu (Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria) and Professor Will Hughes (University of Reading, UK).

We were supported by a local organising committee led by Mr Oladele Ishaq.

The WABER 2013 Conference was held at the British Council in Accra, Ghana on 12-14 August 2013.

The 2013 conference was special for a number of reasons.

  • First, it was our fifth anniversary conference.
  • Second, we had keynote speakers from very distinguished backgrounds.
  • Third, we had a WABER Committee providing the academic leadership for development of the Conference.
  • Fourth, we had participants coming from 12 different countries. 
  • Fifth, we were back in Ghana after our successful WABER 2012 conference in Abuja, Nigeria.
  • Sixth, the person who was adjudged to have written the best paper won a prize worth about £3000 (Pounds) plus an opportunity to disseminate the finding of the work at the 30th Annual ARCOM Conference held at Reading, UK on 2-4 September.  This was the first time of instituting the WABER-ARCOM best paper prize was won by Dr Cynthia Adeokun of Covenant University in Nigeria who travelled to the UK to participate in the ARCOM 2013 Conference on 2-4 September. All expenses were paid for by the Association of Researchers in Construction Management (ARCOM). We are grateful to ARCOM for the support and partnership.

We received a total of 232 abstracts, 172 full papers, and eventually accepted 102 papers for publication in the conference proceedings which represented approximately 60% of full papers submitted. The statistic provides an indication of significant participation in the WABER conference and underscores the need to congratulate the successful authors.

In term of thanking sponsors, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Diagonal Projects Africa (DPA) Pty Ltd for serving as a major sponsor for the WABER 2013 conference. The Managing Director, Mr Moses Honu, was very instrumental in making the collaboration between WABER and DPA possible so we wish to thank him for his passion about research and the development of the built environment field in Africa.

We had outstanding keynote speakers for the WABER 2012 Conference including Prof Chimay Anumba of Penn State University in the US, Dr Ron Watermeyer of Infrastructure Options (Pty) Ltd in South Africa and Dr Roine Leiringer of University of Hong Kong.

Overall, the 3 days conference was a resounding success with about 140 people attending. We would like to thank everyone involved particularly our delegates, sponsors and speakers.

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