Growth in Africa and in particular East Africa is providing a major catalyst for the increased expansion of global construction and management consultants Turner & Townsend, which has opened an office in Kenya.
Says newly appointed country manager for Kenya, Daimon Keith: “Our ongoing focus on continued expansion on the continent is increasingly important in growing our business globally. Having set-up originally in South Africa 34 years ago, we are currently involved in over 40 projects outside of South Africa at various stages of the project lifecycle, from setup through delivery and close out. We are working mainly in the telecoms, oil and gas, infrastructure, health, education, and hotel and leisure sectors specifically in Kenya and more broadly across East Africa.
“In achieving growth now and into the future our Africa strategy incorporates three main hubs, concentrated in the SADC (Southern African Development Community), East African Community (EAC) and West Africa. We have developed our business in SADC for many years and while we continue to grow, our focus at present is on EAC as this is the next logical step given our existing client base and the opportunity to introduce new services and develop skill sets in the region. In West Africa, Nigeria and Ghana will be our focus areas as we seek new project opportunities.”
Keith says South Africa has proven an important gateway for Turner & Townsend’s continued growth in Africa, with the Johannesburg office the first of the regional offices globally to be established outside of the UK. “The South African business began with a focus in the mining sector and then grew outwards into Africa. However, the gateway into East Africa for us was our Uganda office, launched off the back of a project with Tullow Oil, resulting in additional work from other clients and enabling us to build our brand. We encouraged one of our Ugandan professionals – Elizabeth Natukunda, who was working for Turner & Townsend in the UK, to return to Uganda to run the business. Last year she was highly commended as a young up and coming consultant during the British Expertise International Awards 2015, given her success in Uganda over the last five years.
“With Kenya being the largest economy in East Africa it became imperative for us to have a Nairobi base if we want to grow our presence across the EAC. Support residing in Kenya is also strategically important as a base for many of our global clients that have large operations in country.
Keith says having breadth of experience across African countries is important because the project challenges and risks of doing business are vastly different in each African country. “The fact that we have experience across 38 countries in Africa means that we can offer and deliver a service that is realistic and relevant, with solutions that meet the expectations of both local and global players. In East Africa – besides Uganda and Kenya – we are currently delivering projects in Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Djibouti. We take this pan-African experience and contextualise it for the local market. Our philosophy in providing solutions is an inclusive, client-centric approach – while leveraging off our global and local expertise and experience.
“Having a permanent presence in a country with employees who have global experience and can leverage global best practice methodologies and processes, but are billed out in local currency at locally acceptable rates, and speak the local language is a best of both worlds scenario and means we provide a world class solution at a very competitive commercial result.
“We can also offer more flexibility and can scale up or scale down the resources required on a project or programme. Where required we can call on our global pool of experts – depending on the complexity of the project and our client’s requirements.
“Kenya has its ‘vision 2030’ ambitions to create infrastructure and they have recently set up and gazetted a public private partnership (PPP) framework that is backed by a Presidential Delivery Unit. We have a strong skill set to be able to offer services in this space, and in terms of property are currently engaged with General Electric, Safaricom and Aga Khan Health Services. Another key area of focus is the natural resources sector and we are working with clients locally to deliver commercially viable schemes, for example pipelines in the oil and gas sector.”
Keith says the lack of liquidity in certain countries in Africa makes PPP an attractive model. “This is an area we can really add value as we have a lot of experience playing a technical advisory role for these types of projects. Our understanding of the local market, the supply chain and how they procure along with the relevant local and international benchmarks will also allow us to add value to any owner’s team on capital projects. We can get involved at any stage of the project lifecycle be it feasibility, project set-up, or project delivery. During the project lifecycle we are able to offer the following services as required by the client, namely cost management, project management, project controls and contract services (claims assessments, disputes resolution, contract administration).”
Daimon Keith is a chartered surveyor and member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors with considerable global experience, having been responsible for leading the rail sector in the UK for Turner & Townsend. Over the years he has worked with Network Rail, London Underground and TfL, among others on a range of projects.