INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT The South African public and the private sectors need to do their bit to support the development of the infrastructure industry in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond
Consulting company ADA Consulting Engineers recently won a commendation for the Small Company of the Year award at this year’s Consulting Engineers South Africa AON Excellence Awards, held in Midrand, Gauteng in August.
The awards are a platform to showcase the important role that infrastructure plays in the sustainable development and delivery of basic services to society. By recognising state-of-the-art infrastructure design that stands the test of time, the awards reiterate that engineers are front-end enablers of service delivery.
ADA Consulting director Paul Maitre tells Engineering News that the company is proud and humbled to have won the award, as it provided a sense of achievement and renewed focus for all the staff involved.
“We have worked a great deal to get to this point, but there is still a great deal of work to be done. Our focus moving forward has to be on service delivery, as user-friendly services are quite the focus for most developers nowadays.”
Technological development and advancement in the services that the company offers are vital to maintain that impetus to be relevant to clients, he adds.
While the current state of the civil engineering and construction industry is a little dire, reflecting the challenges of government regarding infrastructure build, Maitre stresses that the industry has to recognise that government understands these challenges and is working towards mitigating them.
“The recent initiatives around investment and the development of infrastructure bode well for the future. We, as companies, need to assist with that and recognise the needs of the country. The manner in which we complete these projects has to be reviewed and optimised, as they have a high demand on government spend. We have to ensure that we are focused on delivery to industries and progress projects without overexpenditure.”
Maitre urges government to facilitate easier access to public work for small companies, and reduce the red tape and legislative requirements that would, in turn, promote a lot more development in this field.
“It would initiate more development and the establishment of small companies. As small companies, we have to be cautious of putting all our eggs in one basket. Small companies have to ensure sustainability and increase their offering which will, in turn, increase their revenue streams without being exposed to one component of the industry that may be distressed.”
ADA Consulting services the mining, residential and manufacturing industries, besides others. It has a branch in Botswana and will consider intensifying its footprint in that country and further into Africa. The company has also been involved in projects in Algeria, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Africa has enormous potential, so we have to gain traction in that market, which will ensure longevity of the company into the future. South Africa is very well developed, with skills that we can offer Africa. The public and the private sectors need to do their bit to support the development of the infrastructure industry in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.”
Further, Maitre states that engineers in the civil engineering and construction sector need to develop sufficient knowledge and skills to transform the industry and work towards its sustainability, as this will be key in retaining the sector’s foothold.
“Creating employment is quite critical. Graduates are struggling to find opportunities, owing to lack of employment. Government’s input into creating opportunities for small business would support that. Existing engineering companies should also be aware of the need to train young engineers, as this training would develop and increase the engineering base, which is imperative.”
Embracing technology and digital engineering – which is essential for infrastructure development – will enable the South African civil engineering and construction sector to maintain its credibility and competitiveness globally, he concludes.