The last three years have been full of uncertainty for many in the engineering and construction industry. However in Africa, one noticeable constant has been the insatiable demand for infrastructure in all forms. There are significant opportunities for growth in Africa because the continent is significantly underdeveloped. This underdevelopment makes project execution difficult, but it does create opportunities for companies, however, as the infrastructure needed for resource exploitation must be developed.
"To give a sense of scale, about a year ago, we were receiving between two and three enquiries a week around investment strategies into Africa, which has now grown to between 15 and 18 enquiries a week. It's really ramped up," this is according to KPMG global Africa COO Anthony Thunstrom.
The reality is that these larger opportunities within Africa present complex challenges, which are too big for smaller, local companies to tackle in isolation. This change in the market has seen an acceleration of mergers and acquisitions involving local and international firms. Local companies possess critical knowledge of local conditions, but complementary skills are critical for the successful delivery of these projects.
Several projects in neighbouring countries have been awarded to South African Engineering firms. The R193m contract to build a 22km access road for Swakop Uranium's Husab uranium mine in Namibia and the St. Helena airport project are just some of the examples.
Recent reports released predicting that African cities would grow nearly three times faster than the global average over the next three-and-a-half decades, highlights the need for efficient, effective and environmentally sustainable urban infrastructure development.
It would be unwise to ignore the opportunities that Africa can hold for development and growth in the engineering and construction industry, however it's important that the risk and challenges are taken into consideration. "Africa is difficult to work in. Most South African companies that ventured into the continent did so out of necessity. Some were not paid, others have had difficulties in moving money or struggled with long delays of deliveries and payments; there are also significant challenges with corruption" warns consulting engineering firm Knight Piésold MD Leon Furstenburg.
It doesn't matter if your engineering company is focusing on local projects within South Africa or moving to take on the challenging African environment, Communicate Recruitment can assist in finding you skilled staff. We specialises in Engineering recruitment including Civil Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Resident Engineers, Structural Engineers, and more.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net