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Tewodros Fantahun from Adeb Engineering a first time visitor to the second International Integrated Site Elements (ISE) construction and housing exhibition looked impressed visiting the various booths. Tewodros with a beaming smile told Capital that he found one or two companies he appreciated very much. His company imports heavy machineries used for construction like Dozers and Excavators.
He said he was excited about the local ‘gypsum’ and ‘construction skills’ he saw though he still can tell the difference in quality. Still he said he probably would use local construction supplies if he was building his own house because of their affordable pricing.
“It is a way for us to network and find out about innovative products,” he added.
Tewodros’ excitement was shared by Demis Beyene Marketing Head at the Art metal Wrought Iron Works and Supply Company and a second time participant.
Demis said, companies that previously imported their materials from places like China are now choosing local; Gift, Flintstone, Select are among its clients.
According to Demis, his company has segmented the market from the lower levels to upper levels of the society, although its main customers tend to be contractors, real estate developers. Art metal plans to export its products to East Africa and has finished marketing studies for East Africa with a focus on South Sudan.
Kassa Assefa, a senior market study expert at the veteran Kaliti Metal Products Factory  said the factory is having difficulties coping with the society’s need for its products.
One such problem he saw was the factory’s reliance on imported raw materials, although, he said there is a talk of iron ore deposits in Ethiopia, which take time and resources to process.
“This creates a problem because the construction sector is embodied in the GTP, and as such we face difficulties meeting demands for projects like the Grand Renaissance Dam such as iron bars and government housing projects,” Kassa told Capital.
Engineer Sujin. V. Sudhav Project manager at Postech International W.L.L, currently residing in Dubai, U.A.E with 20 years experience, said there are more exhibitions like this in Dubai but that he was excited with what he saw here.
We’ve already participated in the country from sales to final construction and installation.  Our licensing process in Ethiopia is progressing to participate fully in the country’s construction sector and we plan to open an office here this month Sujin said with a hopeful tone.
Desalegn Ambaw, state minister of Urban Construction and Development took a different angle to the exhibition, saying it’s part of the government’s strategy of import substitution.
He pointed to spare metal parts which can be a self sufficient local sector if there is adequate demand.
Tadesse Haile, State Minister of Industry said Ethiopia has  already been able to meet its cement demand which is a huge step for the nation.
The exhibition was impressive because of the large number of local products on display, he said. Mekdela Mekuria Marketing and Outreach Executive at Lexicon Promotion Service Private Limited Company said, the exhibition has taken two months to organize with a view to also correct the mistakes of the first edition of the exhibition, and increase the industry composition with construction element weighing heavily. 
However, some were not as excited. Tekle Tsadik Abera from Tabco Construction, came to the exhibition because of the information he received through word of mouth.
“To be honest it was not what I had expected it to be, the companies are the same which we see in other exhibitions,” Tekle Tsadik told Capital.
He further said, except for an impending local gypsum factory and a foreign company bringing new portable construction technology, it was bland plus the numbers of participants decreased.
However he acknowledged that such exhibitions are essential for Ethiopia in order to find new products for the construction sector.
The second ISE construction and housing exhibition from January 12-16, 2012, featured 50 local and international exhibitors.