Galvanised roofing sheet firms lose business to tile makers

Increased use of alternative roofing products by real estate investors and home developers has seen factories cut production of galvanised sheets in the year to July to a five-year low.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows production of iron and steel sheets dropped to 142,205 tonnes between January and July from 161,596 tonnes similar period last year — marking the lowest level since 2010 when output stood at 118,616 tonnes.

This has left producers of galvanised sheets losers in the property boom that has lifted sales of cement and paint manufacturers.

Players in the sector say the use of shingles and tiles is rising despite being costlier than galvanised sheets with investors drawn to their aesthetic appeal.

“Galvanised sheets are increasingly facing competition from wide use of roofing tiles and shingles. By cutting production, manufacturers are only responding to market trends,” the National Construction Authority chairman Steven Oundo said.

“The description of high-end homes, especially those in urban areas, has evolved to mean those roofed with shingles or tiles,” he added.

Mr Oundo said most aspiring homeowners in small towns still prefer the cheaper galvanised sheets which are popular for rain water harvesting in homes.

Shingles cost Sh800 a panel as priced by Tactile Roofing Solutions. A panel measures 0.45 metres by 1.3 metres.

The cost of a galvanised sheet ranges between S04 per metre and Sh488 for a sheet with a thickness of 30 gauge. Producers like Mabati Rolling Mills have increasingly adopted rust-free sheets which come with an alloy coat of aluminium and zinc.