We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to browse this site or by choosing to close this message, you give consent for cookies to be used. For more details please read our Cookie Policy.

5 building markets to watch in 2016

The global construction market will grow by 85% over the next 15 years, according to the Global Construction 2030 published last month. The report singles out China, India and the USA as the headline drivers of growth, but for those who know where to look, there are less crowded markets offering great opportunities for exporters. Here are five of the most promising:



Nigeria’s huge housing deficit – 20 million units, 5 million in Lagos alone – means the country is desperate for new construction technologies and materials to meet demand. The advanced, cost-effective solutions to make this happen are often not available locally, so exporters are making the most of the chance to grab market share. One international firm using Nigeria’s housing shortage to secure contracts is Affordable Building Concepts, an Irish modular housing provider. After gaining a foothold earlier this year to build 5,000 low-cost houses, the firm built on this success with a further 10,000-unit contract signed with the Anambra State Regional Government in October 2015. ABC’s chairman Desmond Cullinane recently promised a ‘big investment’ in Nigeria from his company – with 2,000 new units per day needed in the country simply to kep the backlog at bay, there is no shortage of opportunities for exporters across the building sector to get involved as well.



Singapore might not have the giant populations of its South-East Asian neighbours, but in one area of construction it is the undisputed champion – green building. Every new building in Singapore must have green design and undergo Green Mark assessment, a law that has been in force since 2008, so it goes without saying the demand for cleaner solutions across every stage of the construction process is enormous. Plans to certify 80% of Singapore’s buildings for green compliance by 2030 should also keep renovation and retrofitting work moving at a healthy pace, as Singapore looks to increase the number of green buildings from an already impressive 25% of its built-up area. This process is being supported with cash from the city authorities, with schemes such as the Green Mark Incentive Scheme (which encourages green material selection at the design stage) and the S$52m Green Innovation Cluster, which looks to ‘proliferate energy efficiency across the built environment’.

This unusually stringent green regulation is good news for suppliers in the eco-build sphere, but Singapore is by no means a niche market. Construction growth is expected to come in at a healthy 3.6% per year up to 2025, and a policy of renting out surface land above Singapore’s mass transit system has freed up space to build over 10,000 housing units of 30 storeys. Moreover, Singapore’s GDP of $55,000 far exceeds its neighbours, so the export opportunities for high-end materials and interior finishes will remain strong in the years ahead.



The enormous construction potential of Singapore’s neighbour Indonesia is well known, and the output just keeps on growing. The latest report from Indonesia’s statisticians showed the growth rate of the country’s building sector climbing again in the first half of 2015, posting a rise of 4.11 points, driven by insatiable demand for housing for Indonesia’s 250 million-strong population. On the housing front, Indonesia is experiencing a period of strong urbanisation – Jakarta will have 12 million people living in it by 2025, according to estimates, and the United Nations predicts that 164 million Indonesians will live in urban areas by then.

This means new houses, and lots of them – 700,000 needed each year by official estimates. This has thrust the house building sector to the top of the political agenda, resulting in Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo launching the ‘One Million Homes’ programme earlier this year to eat into the backlog. The majority of the new houses will be for low-income Indonesians, so the government is offering state-backed mortgages to make sure the average Indonesian can afford to buy them.

Grandiose plans such as this can often raise eyebrows in the industry, but progress on the ground is robust – Indonesia’s housing minister Basuki Hadimuljono recently announced that of the 1 million houses Widodo promised, 622,000 had been built as of November 2015. But the country still needs more – one and a half million more every year, to be precise.

With imports playing an important role in Indonesian construction (steel imports grew to over 395,000 tonnes in 2013 from just 20,000 tonnes in 2010, to take one example), Indonesia has the demand, growth potential and immediate opportunities to make it a serious market to invest in.



Oil and gas companies were the first into Myanmar after the country opened up to the outside world. Now, after the first free elections for decades, the country is an even bigger draw – and construction firms and building product exporters could be next.

With GDP growth of 8.5% in 2015, Myanmar is the fastest-growing country in south-east Asia, and the World Bank expects this figure to stay north of 8% until at least 2017. As Myanmar’s economy grows, so do its cities, particularly economic centre Yangon – rising urbanisation means 1.8 million out of the city’s 5.1 million inhabitants are in need of low-cost housing. Some big projects have been underway in 2015, including a 956-apartment development called Star City worked on by Bouygues, but the country needs a lot more construction work to provide the 75,000 extra houses needed per year in Yangon alone.

In fact, the city needs new buildings in all areas, not just housing – although office space doubled in 2015 alone, there is still not enough space to accommodate the international businesses coming to the new Myanmar. “Foreign investors need office space, and as more companies move into the country, demand will rise,” says Ko Min Min Soe, from the Mya Pan Thakhin Real Estate Agency. There is also an ambitious plan to add 41 new power plants to Myanmar's grid by 2030, to increase the 33% of the country's population with access to electricity.

After decades of isolation from global trade, Myanmar’s industry base is too weak to supply all the building materials these projects will need, creating a headache for local buyers and a fantastic opportunity for exporters. 



Despite recent headwinds, the largest country in the world still boasts a formidable building market with serious potential for international suppliers, particularly in the housebuilding sector.

Russia has the biggest population in Europe by a factor of two, a good enough pull factor on its own. But extra factors are at work to make the draw even stronger - after 20 years of slow decline, Russia’s birth rate is finally starting to rise. Not only that, after doggedly surviving for 30 years, a big batch of Soviet-era housing stock is in line for replacement with housing and apartments built to modern standards with modern materials – materials often out of the range of Russia’s factories.

These factors are cushioning house builders in Russia from the effects of an unsteady rouble. The most recent numbers from Russia’s civil servants showed an average 7% growth in housing completed from January to October 2015, with some regions such as the area around St. Petersburg seeing increases of 50%.

Related Events

Get in Touch

Want news like this in your inbox?