Professional engineering services provider SMEC South Africa’s merger with Singapore-based consultancy Surbana Jurong has further strengthened the South African company’s offering to the African market this year as it celebrates its seventieth year of operation.
“Our local experience, combined with leading technical expertise and our ability to strategically adapt, has been a winning formula for longevity,” said SMEC South Africa CEO Kostas Rontiris earlier this month at the SMEC media breakfast, which was held at the company’s Johannesburg headquarters.
He added that this adaptability was greatly facilitated by the company’s strong employee base, as well as mutually beneficial relationships with its partners and communities.
Demonstrating the value of such enabling partnerships, SMEC joined the Surbana Jurong group in August last year, providing SMEC with the opportunity to bring the innovations of a global player to the local market.
Surbana Jurong is one of the largest Asia-based consulting engineering firms, leveraging technology and creativity to provide one-stop consultancy solutions across the entire value chain of the urbanisation, industrialisation and infrastructure domains. With a 50-year record, the company has built more than a million homes in Singapore, crafted master plans for more than 30 countries and developed more than 50 industrial parks globally. Rontiris highlighted that the company’s expertise strategically complements and contributes to SMEC’s depth and breadth of capabilities while providing access to additional global resources.
“SMEC remains a preferred partner in Africa, known for consistently providing innovative solutions. Through our partnership with Surbana Jurong, we have been offered even more opportunities to diversify and strengthen our offering to clients with additional expertise and experience in emerging areas such as smart cities and security,” added SMEC strategic business development executive Bongani Mthombeni-Möller during the event.
SMEC is present in 23 countries in Africa, delivering design and engineering solutions for a range of infrastructure projects. Notably, this year, the company was engaged to carry out the design and construction supervision of two major bridges as part of the N2 Wild Coast National Road in South Africa.
A 410 km road will be constructed between East London and Mtamvuna and will include nine major bridges, reducing travel time by three hours. SMEC will consult on the design and construction of two of the bridges: the Msikaba bridge, spanning 580 m over the Msikaba Gorge, and the Mtentu bridge, spanning 1.1 km over the Mtentu river. The company expects construction to begin later this year.
Commitment to Transformation
SMEC has also demonstrated an ongoing commitment to transformation in the consulting engineering sector and has adopted a dynamic five-year charter, which will be adjusted in line with the changing imperatives of SMEC’s diversity strategy and the country’s broad-based black economic empowerment legislation.
Current highlights include 25% of the SMEC South Africa shareholding being acquired by the Disability Empowerment Concerns Trust, the increased representation of black individuals on the SMEC board of directors and the adoption of a human resources development strategy that aims to recruit candidates from previously disadvantaged backgrounds through a graduate recruitment and bursary programme.
The company has also embarked on a programme of cultural change that includes diversity and inclusion workshops for current employees. Participation in initiatives such as the Adopt-a-School Foundation, Grow Up Africa Devland Community Centre and the South African Medical & Education Foundation also testify to SMEC’s authentic and considered approach to transformation and corporate social responsibility.
“The strength of our organisation is in our people and we are able to attract top practitioners in the consulting engineering industry because of our unique project mix, which includes a substantial record of iconic projects together with meaningful community-based developments,” said Rontiris.
“The celebration of 70 years of operations not only acknowledges a major milestone for SMEC but also highlights a bright and promising future for the organisation through the continuation of a unique and bold transformational journey,” concluded SMEC Africa division human resources leader Tumelo Molope.