Jul 30, 2010
Competition for African projects hots upBack
Engineering|Africa|Consulting|Consulting Engineers South Africa|Pipelines|PROJECT|Projects|Road|Systems|Water|Africa|Europe|Australia|China|India|South Africa|United States|Contracting|Maintenance|Sanitation Infrastructure|Service|Services|Systems|Cesa Channel|Consulting Engineers|Graham Pirie|Infrastructure|Water|Zulch Lötter|Pipelines|The Cesa Annual
© Reuse this
In the current economic climate, engineers have to be more entrepreneurial to compete, adds Cesa CEO Graham Pirie. However, the competition for African projects is intensifying, which, considering the challenges and intrica- cies of working on the continent, poses a risk, particularly for newcomers to cross-border work, says Lötter.
Competition for African projects traditionally comes from Europe and, in some instances, the US, but it is now increasing from India and Australia, and in China’s contracting and consulting sectors, he says.
However, he explains that the Built Envi- ronment Professions Export Council (BEPEC) helps to mitigate these risks. The council was created in 2008 with the support of Cesa, besides other organisations, as a Section 21 nonprofit company, in a public–private partner- ship with the South African Department of Trade and Industry. The BEPEC secures and funds international market access to clients, and generates increased business opportunities by adding value to member firms’ international business development activities. Its role extends to informing members of projects and issues to be aware of when working cross-border.
Meanwhile, Pirie believes that, as a result of the flattening of acti- vity and the shortening of local project pipelines, many firms, including consultants and contractors, are retrenching staff. One solution would be for public- sector projects to be initiated at local government level, where there is available funding, and a critical need for infrastructure. Besides the direct benefits, the provision of water, sanitation and road infrastructure requirements and, particularly, their operation and maintenance, is a market segment that needs to be unlocked, he says.
He explains that, although there is a need for new water and sanitation infrastructure, Cesa would like to see greater focus on the operations and maintenance of existing infrastructure.
Pirie believes that the non- delivery status of the public sector, particularly at local authority level, is still causing frustration in the industry. He says that the root cause is that public-sector workers lack the requisite quali- fications and experience with which to tackle the significant challenges in the industry.
However, Lötter says that there has been some positive response from government in this regard, referring to the amendments to the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act of 2000. The legis- lation regulates that the incumbents in certain positions in the local authority have to comply with specific minimum qualifications.
Cesa is investigating certain delivery models that have been successfully used abroad to solve delivery problems and which could be custom-made for South Africa. In October, European, Australasian and local experts will be making presentations on these models, at the Cesa annual general meeting and conference. The results of this initiative will be brought to government’s attention through conferences and dialogue, as well as Cesa channel partners, such as Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and the Engineering Council of South Africa.
Another concern for Cesa is next year’s local government elections and the traditional slowdown in decision-making ahead of this event, as well as the time it will take the new decision-makers to learn the ropes after the election.
“Unfortunately, we anticipate a hiatus in delivery and a worsening of the situation around this time,” says Pirie, adding that this can be tackled if the situation is highlighted.
However, Lötter believes that, while government and its decision-makers are acutely aware of the governance and management shortfalls, they are faced with the challenge of managing the solutions. He believes that the only way to tackle this situation is to use the recourses available in the private sector, predominantly in the consulting fraternity, to work together with government. In this regard, Cesa is supported by Busa, besides others.
Pirie adds that the Project Development and Facilitation Alliance (PDFA), Cesa’s Section 21 company established to assist local government in procuring the services of Cesa members for projects, has been parked. Cesa believes that the PDFA is part of the answer to public–private-sector challenges and it is exploring ways to put it to significant use.
Cesa is also working to fully understand how to effectively use framework agreements, alliancing and public–private partnerships in the South African context to enhance service delivery.
Edited by: Brindaveni Naidoo© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Infrastructure News
Article contains comments
Updated 5 hours ago Protech Khuthele Holdings on Wednesday said, in a cautionary note to shareholders, that, as the failed company unwound, investigations were ongoing into its affairs. The company provided no indication of the completion date.
Updated 5 hours ago Private equity investors are increasingly becoming more active in Africa’s bid to narrow the $90-billion a year infrastructure funding gap constraining the continent’s growth. This was according to a survey by the Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity...
Updated 6 hours ago The shortlist of innovations in the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation was announced on Wednesday, comprising 12 new innovations from seven African countries. The shortlist announced by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) included innovations in...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
The latest TransUnion Vehicle Pricing Index (VPI) contains a number of small, but significant indications that the tide may at last be turning for the beleaguered used car industry. For the third successive quarter, used car inflation has increased on a year-on-year...
The South African new vehicle market is likely to reach around 630 000 units in 2014, down from the 650 000 units recorded in 2013, says Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) president and CEO Dr Johan van Zyl. Van Zyl is also president of the National Association of...
Efforts by the Kenya government to increase energy generation by 5 000 MW over the next three years received a major boost following the award of a $2-billion contract to build a coal power plant in Lamu. Despite allegations of irregular tendering process, the...
Using crafty wordplay on a well-known Internet meme, brilliant South African-born US entrepreneur and businessperson Elon Musk announced that Tesla Motors would not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wanted to use its technology. Instead,...
August new vehicle sales declined by 1.4%, to 55 722 units, compared with the same month last year. Assisted by the car rental market, the South African new passenger car market, at 37 953 units, contracted by 1 047 units, or 2.7%, compared with August last year.