One of the leading lights (no pun intended) in the construction industry has been the renewable energy sector. Every month or so another project comes online within budget and on time. Going back to 2009, I remember a number of European companies coming to South Africa to promote renewable energy. Supported by local and international players they have managed to build an industry to be proud of, and an industry which we could play a role in for export into the rest of Africa.
So despite a very severe downturn in 2009, these European companies saw an opportunity in South Africa and made it happen. This was not an overnight or individual company’s success. It was a combined effort of a number of associations, companies, developers, financiers and government.
We too have a number of areas where we are market leaders. One just has to look at our Steel Awards entries to see the talent and expertise out there. We need to consider our strengths and look for opportunities, not necessarily in South Africa, where these skills are needed.
There is no doubt that we have developed expertise in the energy sector including building power stations. We need to leverage our combined capability and market to other countries. We recently took a delegation comprised of DTI, Treasury and SARS decision makers to Kusile Power Station and Genrec Engineering. The scale and complexity of this project is world-class despite all the negative press.
What about the mining, agriculture and petrochemical sectors not to mention all the other types of projects our members have been involved in over the years?Considering our appetite for shopping centres in South Africa we should be the leading contractors of most developments in Africa as the Chinese are on rail roll-outs. What we need is a much larger collaboration of owners, developers, financiers, project professionals and contractors. The difference from our side will be our willingness to partner with local companies as we have become used to developing smaller players and working within the empowerment space here in South Africa.
The difference from our side will be our willingness to partner with local companies as we have become used to developing smaller players and working within the empowerment space here in South Africa. Innovation and competitiveness are key to us surviving the rough patch we are currently experiencing. The world is constantly changing at a rapid pace and we must make sure that we are prepared with an educated and skilled workforce. It’s time that we began to move away from the problem and work towards a possible solution.