AECOM addresses infrastructure panel at WEF on Africa 2017

15 June 2017
Largescale, multi-country infrastructure projects in Africa can only succeed if various important criteria are met in terms of planning, coordination, and engineering.
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Speaking during the Agenda 2063: Infrastructure Update discussion panel at the World Economic Forum on Africa from 3 to 5 May in Durban, AECOM Chief Executive – Africa Carlos Poñe emphasised that the consulting engineering company focused on the interface between design, build, construction, and master planning.

“We see the same pattern repeated in successful infrastructure projects in Africa: good planning ahead, attractive feasibility, good engineering capability, and a proper offtake. If you have all of these elements in place, success is virtually guaranteed.”

Poñe pointed to successful projects in the region such as the Southern African Power Pool, driven by South Africa, which promoted interconnectivity between electricity grids and the interchange of power resources between members of the Southern African Development Community. “That project made perfect sense, there was an offtake from South Africa, and the necessary political will to bring it about.”

Another perfect example is the Nacala Corridor in Northern Mozambique, which extends from the Nacala Port inland, and further to neighbours Malawi and Zambia. “This was an excellent example of a transport corridor combining port and rail infrastructure for the development of the region,” Poñe reiterated. “Here the private sector was involved with the roads, and the government with the master planning and the general political will, which meant that the project made sense in the end.”

Commenting on challenges facing infrastructure projects in Africa, Poñe stressed: “I think there are issues on the regulatory side that need to be addressed. There is also an absence of common standards across borders, and competing agendas on large projects. It is critical that these competing agendas dissolve to enable us to close some of the gaps.”

The World Economic Forum on Africa reported that the continent is facing a mixed outlook for growth. Growth over the coming year is forecast to be lower than the 5% average of the past decade, due largely to the dip in commodity prices, and the economic slowdown in China.

Nevertheless, Africa remains an important strategic focus for AECOM, which has a global presence in 150 countries and 15 on the continent. The consulting engineer has 1 200 employees in Africa, of which the majority are located in South Africa. Revenue from the continent currently stands at $150m, which Poñe says it is his aim to boost substantially.

Organised in conjunction with the South African government, the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 stressed the need for leaders to be responsive to the demands of the people who have entrusted them to lead, and to also provide a vision and a way forward. Regional and global leaders from business, government, and civil society convened to agree on priorities to assist Africa achieve inclusive growth.


Notes to the editor
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