Stephen Kanner, a principal of Kanner Architects in Los Angeles, and his friend Joe Gaddo, an architect based in Ghana, are helping to develop a cement additive that could decrease construction costs there by a one third—no small accomplishment in a country where concrete is the preferred building material and yet few people are able to afford it.
The new additive is called PozzoGhana, a wordplay on an Italian ash-based additive called pozzolana. PozzoGhana is made of a mixture of palm kernels, which come from the fruit of palm trees that grow abundantly in Ghana, as well as lime and local clays. It will be used as a supplement to help reduce the use of imported cement, whose cost is rising. The simple process of producing PozzoGhana, the use of cheap local materials, and the less expensive local labor make it a cheaper option. “It could make a difference in so many construction projects,” Kanner says, “especially if we can help with the low-income housing market.”
Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research began developing PozzoGhana’s formula 30 years ago. After completing an extensive testing process, the council lacked the money and resources to manufacture and market the additive on a large scale. Last spring, it entered into an agreement with Kanner, Gaddo, and PMC Global, a conglomeration of financial interests based in Sun Valley, California.
PMC plans to build its first PozzoGhana factory in Prampram, Ghana, by early 2008, selling the material to contractors, fabricators, and developers. Eventually, the product will be sold throughout West Africa, with factories throughout the region. Kanner Architects plans to use PozzoGhana in its new, market-rate 25-unit Augustino Neto condominium project in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, as well as other projects in the region including the Independence Avenue mixed-use complex.