The East African Coatings Congress held in Nairobi between June 8 & 9 may not have been anything near what the event organizers have experienced in similar events in North Africa, Europe and Asia in terms of attendance and participation, but some of the companies that took part said they were in East Africa to explore the market, to seek business partners and gauge the business environment for potential investors in this fast-growing coatings market.
One could even say the selection of Nairobi to host the East African Coatings Congress (EACC) was deliberate on the part of the organizers. The city is East Africa’s paints and coatings industry hub where all leading paints and coatings market players such as Crown Paints (also Crown Berger), Basco Paints, Solai Paints and Sadolin Paints East Africa Ltd., formerly a subsidiary of Danish paint manufacturer Sadolin & Holmblad, later acquired by AkzoNobel Coatings, have set up their operational base.
Companies such as Crown Paints have spread their wings to the rest of East Africa with subsidiaries such as Crown Tanzania, Regal Paints in Uganda and Crown Rwanda. Nairobi, also being the gateway to landlocked Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, the event organizers could not have picked a better venue for the East African Coatings Congress.
“The East African Coatings Congress presented superb opportunities for networking as there is no other event of this kind in the region,” said Kieran Proverbs, marketing manager for Coatings Group, the main event organizer.
He said the Congress, whose theme was “East African Opportunities – Investing in Growth,” provided a rare occasion in which senior decision makers in the industry assembled in one location to meet participants from all segments of the paints and coatings industry.
Jackie Xia, a senior manager at the export department of the China’s Quzhou Dongtai New Material Company Ltd. said although the company exports its products to Africa, the EACC was the first forum for the company to engage with potential consumers, business partners and players in the East African market.
“This is our first time exhibiting in East Africa and we are looking forward to getting some good leads and probably useful business relationships by the end of the event,” said Xia.
Her company manufactures the Dongtai titanium dioxide brand, which the Quzhou-based firm said is widely used in enhancing the performance of paints, plastic, printing ink, papermaking, chemical fiber, rubber, leather and various kinds of industrial paint flourocarbon lacquer.
The chief executive officer of the Scotland-based CelluComp Ltd., Christian Kemp-Griffin said: “We are not in the market yet but we believe there is potential in doing business in East Africa and sub-Saharan Africa generally.”
The company develops high performance products based on sustainable resources that offer “rheological and mechanical properties for numerous applications,” such as paints and coatings, personal care, home care, cosmetics, concrete, drilling fluids, composites and other potential applications, according to Kemp-Griffin.
“I hope there are companies in East Africa at this forum with whom we can talk with on the possibility of forming partnerships through which our products can penetrate the market,” he said.
CelluComp Ltd, which launched its Curran product at the European Coatings Show in 2013, works with paint formulating companies globally, “alongside its distribution partners Krahn Chemie, Keyser Mackay and Tennants Distribution.” Griffins told participants the Curran product is one of the CelluComp Ltd.’s solutions to meet the “the increasing environmental demands and performance demands of the customers.”
Ahmed Gamal of Covestro, a spinout formed in the fall of 2015 from Bayer and formerly the German multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company’s $12.3 billion materials science division, said East African market has huge potential for the paints and coatings industry material manufacturers. He said Covestro’s participation at the EACC was an opportunity to network with current and potential customers of the company’s high-tech polymers and raw materials for polyurethanes, coatings, adhesives and specialty chemicals.
“Our products are already in the East African market and the event provides an opportunity for us to hear from our consumers, retailers and other participants,” said Gamal.
During the two-day event, top professionals and company decision implementers gave presentations that touched on a wide range of issues such as the overview of the African paints and coatings market, regulatory issues, latest technology that is shaping the industry, latest projects and also upgrading of existing manufacturing facilities and new ones with capacity to enable competitors stand out from the crowd.
Daniel Troxler of Switzerland-based Buhler AG explained to participants how to achieve high-grade dispersions with their micro bead processing systems. He said optimized agitated bead milling can enable companies in the paints and coatings industry achieve “quality enhancement and energy saving.”
He outlined to the participants how different bead mill designs and “major parameters influencing the quality and required specific energy positively.”
“The most important parameters, which need to be optimized are the power density in the mill chamber and the diameter of the grinding beads,” he said.
Troxler said: “It is a regular finding that reducing bead diameter results in a substantial improvement of the achievable dispersion quality, while at the same time, reducing the specific energy required.”
Cardolite Specialty Chemicals Europe NV international sales manager Hans Bosmans gave a presentation on how manufacturers of various coatings products can help consumers to achieve “beautiful floors for many years to come.”
He singled out his company’s Ultra LITE 2009, which he said “is the first phenalkamine in the market with Gardner color ideal for floor top coats of all hues and shades.”
Cardolite derives its products from cashew nutshell liquid, a natural, renewable chemical raw material grown widely in Africa, Brazil, India and Vietnam.
Cardolite’s Ultra LITE 2009 is a Cardanol-based curing agent that is used in the floor coatings with qualities such as low color and nice film appearance, fast cure, good water resistance, balanced mechanical properties, good self-leveling properties, and excellent weatherability. Cardanol is the primary component of the cashew liquid technology, which Bosmans said is “a natural phenolic compound with a long unsaturated fatty side chain.”
The curing agent is “ideal for floor top coats, good replacement for cycloaliphatic amine,” according to Bosmans.
He said formulators can take advantage of the product’s “good leveling properties to reduce the number of coating layers required in a project or to use the same curing agent for the self-leveller and topcoat.”
CelluComp’s Kemp-Griffins talked to the EACC participants on the critical subject of choosing the right product for coating formulations to ensure the final product meets “the demands of the environmental and performance demands of customers.”
He explained how coatings manufacturers can use the company’s Curran brand, which is developed from the extraction of nano-cellulose fibers of root vegetables and “offers exceptional rheological and mechanical properties for numerous applications, such as paints and coatings, personal care, home care, cosmetics, concrete, drilling fluids, composites and other potential applications.”
He said the use of Curran provides saving for both interior and exterior paint formulations such as 8 percent to 58 percent reduction in binder, 25 percent reduction in coalescent, 17 percent reduction in anti seize spray thickener, 80 percent reduction in hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC), and 5 percent to 10 percent reduction in titanium dioxide (TiO2).
Frank Abschlag of Elementis Germany GmbH, a manufacturer of rheological additives and pigment dispersions for the coatings, inks, adhesives, construction industries, said paint formulators in Africa, who are used to “mid- to high-PVC latex paints dominated by the use of HEC,” can effectively “combine HEC with other thickeners to overcome an often-noticed limitation in workability.”
He gave the example of mixing the company’s rheology modifier RHEOLATE and HEC which he said “work synergistically and will give you excellent paint application properties” such as good sag stability, better dilution stability than when one uses HEC alone.
Abschlag said Elementis GmbH’s RHEOLATE 150 “works in the same viscosity range than HEC while RHEOLATE 175 gives better flow and levelling properties.”
The East African Coatings Congress, which attracted 55 exhibitors and more than 450 participants, had more than 12 presentations from company executives, industry analysts and the United Nations Environmental Programme.