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Sustainability Leads 5th GeoAfrica Conference

Gauteng in South Africa is set to host the next GeoAfrica conference in 2027.

IGS South Africa won the bid to organize the 5th African Regional Conference on Geosynthetics (5th GeoAfrica), and will be focused on spreading the word about the environmental benefits of using geosynthetics in a range of applications.

Charl Cilliers, President of IGS South Africa, which is also known as the Geosynthetics Interest Group of South Africa, or GIGSA, said of its win: “It feels good to have the IGS place their faith in our chapter to host a successful conference. The first GeoAfrica was held in South Africa in 2009 and went very well so hopefully we can repeat and exceed the success of the first conference.

“Hosting GeoAfrica again will bring the focus of the regional conference back to Southern Africa and will significantly enhance the networking of the industry here, but also our neighbouring countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.”

Mr Cilliers said Gauteng was South Africa’s economic hub with a rich history based on the foundation of gold mining, which has helped the area become more cosmopolitan with a diverse range of cultures and ethnicities.

The 4th GeoAfrica conference, organized by IGS Egypt, recently concluded in Cairo, where some 380 delegates visited over February 20-23. Its theme was ‘Geosynthetics in sustainable infrastructures and mega projects’, and matters around greener construction will continue with GeoAfrica5.

Mr Cilliers continued: “Our theme is ‘Growing sustainably, together’. The geosynthetics industry in South Africa is well established and we have our own manufacturers, as well as installers, suppliers, designers and contractors and I believe the largest opportunity for development in South Africa is the use of geosynthetics in increasing the sustainability of projects going forward. Sustainability is a growing priority in South Africa. Conferences such as GeoAfrica highlight the importance of considering sustainability in each project.”

The chapter recently gave out awards for two notable projects which included the use of geofoam for the first time in South Africa, in a road application, and a project where geogrids were used to enhance the stability of a piggy-back application at a landfill in the Western Cape.

Mr Cilliers said: “Both projects had a sustainable benefit. Using geofoam instead of natural material resulted in a reduction of carbon emissions as less material required transport. The use of geogrid in the piggy-back application resulted in more waste being placed on a smaller footprint, resulting in less consumption of the natural habitat.”

GeoAfrica5 is due to take place at the Misty Hills Country Hotel, Conference Centre & Spa, in Gauteng, near Johannesburg, in early March 2027. A conference website is in the pipeline. Until then, stay tuned to the IGS website and social channels for updates.