With its dominant presence in Southern Africa, leading infrastructure development company Bigen Africa is expanding its footprint through international partnerships

‘Sustained development has always relied on partnerships,’ says Bigen Africa COO Anton Boshoff. ‘Africa’s substantial infrastructure development needs require sustained and effective partnerships. Bigen Africa is therefore actively seeking international partners in the mining and industrial, energy, asset and revenue management, real estate, international finance and rail disciplines.’

As a provider of engineering, management consulting, development financing and advisory services, it has successfully delivered cost-effective, sustainable infrastructure projects throughout Africa, including South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Angola and Nigeria.

Sustainable solutions to infrastructure development challenges are delivered through road infrastructure design and construction, electricity provision, water supply and treatment, telecoms services, housing, construction and project feasibility studies. The company’s approach unlocks infrastructure development across an impressive sphere of enablers and activities, including cross-border co-operation, infrastructure funding, knowledge sharing, accountability and dialogue.

This growth, however, would not be possible without the formation of sustainable partnerships, which is an integral part of Bigen Africa’s expansion strategy. The company’s partnership approach includes projects, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, virtual liaisons, working agreements and social portfolios such as public-private partnerships.

In fact, Bigen Africa’s partnership strategy provides for eight types of partners, including enterprise development partners, as it commits to working together on shared projects.

According to Boshoff, Bigen views sustainability as a prerequisite for potential partnerships, implying that potential partners would need to invest in long-term commitments, as opposed to once-off opportunities.

Bigen Africa hosted its first successful partnerships conference in March last year, which was attended by stakeholders and potential partners from across the globe.

A second partnerships conference took place in June 2014, with partnerships in Africa as a new frontier for working together as the main theme. The company intends to increase its access to mega projects through strategic tendering.

‘We expect various development finance institutions, government agencies, private-sector investors, funders, exporters of goods and services as well as representatives from the Built Environment Professions Export Council to attend this conference with a view to building new capabilities through strategic partnerships and/or mergers, in addition to pursuing international partnerships,’ says Boshoff.

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Partnerships include social empowerment programmes. The company has social partnering agreements with the Intuthuko Foundation, Doxa Deo through the Tshwane City Changers initiative and the Development Bank of Southern Africa – its job creation partner.

Empowerment partners with whom agreements have already been established include Madiope Brothers, Disema Consulting Engineers, Zothando Business Development, Batseta Consulting, Indigo Kulani Architects, Lidwala Consulting Engineers and Streams Holdings.

Branching out, Bigen Africa prioritises the development of international ties and has developed country-specific strategies to select international partnerships for country entry by the company’s divisions.

While on the quest for expansion, Bigen Africa has set up Prodelko, a successful partnership with Australian company Wave International, to offer clients in Africa expertise in project delivery services in the infrastructure, resources and industrial development sectors.

Prodelko is the partner of choice for project delivery services, including programme, project and construction management, consulting for mining, industrial and infrastructure clients. Its infrastructure services include housing, energy, water, roads, rail, ports, structures and environmental impact, while resource expertise includes base metals, coal, ferrous metals, bauxite and iron ore.

Collectively, the two companies’ industrial experience spans sugar and refining, chemicals, paper and pulp, printing and distribution, food and beverage, automotive and warehousing. Procurement and logistics management expertise cover sourcing strategies, supplier, early mobilisation and site materials management, supplier prequalification and tender and leverage methodologies.

‘The companies share a commitment to forging long-term client partnerships by adding value in the most efficient, cost-effective and flexible manner,’ says Boshoff. ‘A key advantage for clients contracting Prodelko is its ability to economically scale down or ramp up services to offer flexible solutions to meet changing investment and client requirements.’

Bigen Africa is also broadening its horizons in other ways. The company is currently collaborating with the Australia-Africa Partnerships Facility and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) to address capacity needs for mining-related infrastructure development in Africa.

Together, the three parties have found a need for local service agencies in Africa to be competent in terms of planning and implementing infrastructure projects.

Bigen Africa firmly believes that challenges such as these constrain economic and social development, increase costs and pose risks for extractive industries development.

To address these difficulties, the companies launched a vocational training programme, which is aimed at vital financial and technical professionals in local services agencies and other key institutional players. The programme will be delivered by Bigen Africa in association with SkillsDMC, Australia’s national training organisation for the mining and infrastructure industries, and is co-sponsored by AusAID.

‘The project is not only imparting advanced project design and preparation skills, but also fostering business relations between the participants, the mining and infrastructure companies involved in the targeted projects, SkillsDMC and Bigen Africa,’ says Boshoff.

‘Through this strategic partnership, we are mixing our skills and resources to produce practical solutions for accelerated and sustainable development, to the benefit of all the parties involved.’

Bigen Africa attributes its success to its deep understanding of Africa’s unique challenges and expectations, which is accelerated by the company’s innovative approach to fund mobilisation, project implementation, job creation, poverty alleviation and skills transfer.

‘We believe that together we can do more,’ says Boshoff. ‘Therefore carefully selected partners remain important to Bigen Africa. ‘The group’s enterprise development, indigenisation and empowerment commitments talk to the very core of the company’s ethos of doing good while doing business.’

Doing good while doing business
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