Rising demand for large infrastructure devel- opment in Southern Africa, coupled with increasing concerns about water security and environmental management, has led to the launch of a partnership between international civil engineering hydraulics specialist HR Wallingford and South Africa-based environ- ment consultancy firm Fourth Element in January.
HR Wallingford regional business development representative Thierry Rault notes that despite the current skills levels and knowledge in civil engineering hydraulics in South Africa being very high, HR Wallingford and Fourth Element share a tradition of using highly specialised tools to assess water and environment-related issues.
“The knowledge and technologies offered by the partnership vary from a world-class understanding of sediment dynamics – whether in soft water environments or on the marine side – to innovative solutions for flood-alleviation schemes. Also, the ability to offer postflooding evacuation strategies and unmanned surveying boats designed to rapidly survey dam reservoirs, for instance, are some of the expertise that this partnership brings to the market,” he says.
Fourth Element MD Stuart Dunsmore highlights that both companies have considerable experience in large infrastructure development and they provide a range of specialist hydraulic and water-resource services that support sus- tainable planning and design.
“This will lead to sound and sustainable solutions that combine experience and understanding of the risks of undertaking large and complex infrastructure developments,” he points out.
Africa’s economy evidently has resource-base potential for the future, highlights Rault, adding that whether through oil and gas or minerals, the requirements for infrastructure that derive from this will be the key targets of the partnership.
The partnership is involved in projects in South Africa, for example, in managing floods on the lower Orange river, in the Northern Cape, which also entails the involvement of the departments of agriculture, and rural development and land reform.
“We regard this first year as a phase where we make the local and international market aware of our services in the region. We hope the Orange river project will show the benefit of this partnership as the results start to emerge in the second half of 2014. Promising opportunities in South Africa and Mozambique will hopefully be realised before year-end
,” he says.