Africa is a major growth node for AECOM

14 July 2016
Ranked as the best global consultancy in design, transportation and general building, AECOM has unveiled its 2020 Africa strategy to capitalise on growth opportunities on the continent.
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PreviewCarlos Poñe Chief Executive – Africa, AECOM addressing a media briefing to showcase the company’s global services4.72 MBDownload

Addressing a media briefing to showcase the company’s global and regional service offering and capabilities, newly-appointed Chief Executive – Africa Carlos Poñe stressed that, while AECOM had a presence in 150 countries, Africa remained a strategic objective.

“Going forward, Africa will remain an important focus. It is important to note that we have both a global and a regional reach.” Poñe noted that the continent fell into the Europe, India, Middle East and Africa ‘super region’.

“This means we have a lot of international expertise and experience. For example, we have excellent engineering centres in Romania and Spain. Wherever we do not have the capabilities here, we can certainly draw on these globally.”

AECOM 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. The company has a presence in 15 African countries.

This comprises permanent offices in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Lesotho, Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa, where its head office is located in Centurion. In addition, AECOM has project offices in Ethiopia, Guinea, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Congo.

“We do not want to go into Africa with a shotgun approach. We have a strategy that defines our approach in terms of the business-to-business environment and GDP growth,” Poñe reiterated.

Commenting on the challenge of conducting business in Africa, Poñe said that AECOM’s strategy was predicated on health and safety and ethics and integrity. “Being a company that sells expertise, our people are naturally at the top of our agenda.

“We cannot do the work we do without having the best people in the world.” Poñe stressed that AECOM’s approach to Africa is based on being 100% compliant with the local laws and regulations, which is seen as a minimum requirement for conducting business.

Looking at the company’s broader service offerings, Poñe elaborated that AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.

The Construction Services Group specialises in design, EPC contracting and financing, while AECOM Capital invests equity in projects that provide future opportunities and growth for the company. Both the Management Services Group and the End Market Group ensure sufficient integration and functionality between all the different divisions.

“In terms of architecture, we have been responsible for a number of iconic projects in Africa and around the world, from car dealerships to major buildings, hotels and airport towers. In terms of the latter, AECOM, in conjunction with Pininfarina, won an international design competition for the regional Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower and technical building at the Istanbul New Airport.

“If you look at the number of architects we have in the company, with 26 in South Africa alone, we could rank as one of the world’s largest architecture firm,” Poñe pointed out. In terms of design and planning, AECOM focuses on integrated project delivery.

“We have the capability to design and plan new cities and urban districts. For example, we carried out the master-planning for the London 2012 Summer Olympics, the London 2020 Vision, and most recently for the upcoming Rio Olympics.”

AECOM also carried out the master-planning for Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, an iconic residential and cultural development. In South Africa, AECOM was responsible for project and cost management and specialist consultancy for both the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban and Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town.

In terms of engineering services, Poñe highlighted that AECOM has a highly experienced team based in South Africa that specialises in clinics and hospitals. “We are very strong in this niche sector, and out people are probably among the best in the world.”

Looking at programme management, Poñe cited the lead role that AECOM has assumed on the new Doha Port in Qatar, in addition to its ongoing involvement with the new dig-out port in Durban. “Globally and regionally, we have huge expertise when it comes to ports and harbours on a design, construction and project management basis.”

AECOM is also ranked as the number one company globally in terms of transportation, with construction and site supervision expertise ranging from railway systems to corridor studies. “I have very little doubt that we are probably the number one in Africa when it comes to transportation,” Poñe stressed.

In terms of the water sector, AECOM has been involved with various major Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) projects in Gauteng. Other water infrastructure projects include the award-winning Spring Grove Dam. “We are working in Kenya and Ethiopia out of South Africa in this sector,” Poñe revealed.

The main competitive edge for AECOM is its capability to deliver total projects, all the way from design to complete handover. “What is important as far as the client is concerned is that we can handle the full complexity of a large project. This means that the client has a single point of contact and does not have to deal with a large number of different companies.”

Poñe added that AECOM has identified the power sector as a major growth area in Africa, from transmission to distribution and even micro-grid systems. “We are working on several transmission systems in East Africa, and have just clinched projects in both Lesotho and South Africa. This is an area where we foresee major growth, and we certainly have the capability to tap into this sector on the continent.”

While the mining industry remains constrained by the global slump in commodity prices, Poñe argued that mining projects in Africa in particular have a major need for enabling infrastructure in order for them to get off the ground. “This is another area where we can successfully deliver our expertise in EPC contracts.”

In the burgeoning area of environmental services, AECOM experts from Spain are involved in building up the capabilities of various local municipalities in this regard. “From ground engineering to air-quality impact assessments to environmental health, we can conduct all of these specialist studies in-house,” Poñe concluded.



Notes to the editor
To download hi-res images for this release, please visit and click on the AECOM link to view the company’s press office.

AECOM is a premier, fully-integrated professional and technical services firm. It designs, builds, finances and operates infrastructure assets around the world for public- and private-sector clients. In Africa, AECOM has offices in over 40 countries, including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda. With top-level professionals in multiple locations, AECOM understands Africa’s specific infrastructure needs, together with the inherent challenges of working on the continent. Its multi-disciplinary teams of award-winning engineers, planners, architects, environmental specialists, economists, scientists, consultants, cost, project and programme managers are committed to delivering projects that improve the quality of life of communities throughout Africa.

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