Consulting engineering and environmental consulting firm JG Afrika MD Paul Olivier reports that the consulting engineering industry is faced with an increased demand for fast project delivery from clients.
“Big clients are pushing the limits of time requirements for design and construction. Owing to this, technologies aligned to this are now common, especially in the structures arena,” he says.
Established in 1922, Olivier notes that JG Afrika is one of the oldest operating consulting engineering firm in Southern Africa, and has developed a high standard of expertise and capacity to complete projects of any scale.
This is evident in the projects that the company is currently involved in, such as the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase 2, the Bakwena Platinum Toll Concession, north of Pretoria, as well as a 300 km road upgrade in Zambia.
However, Olivier points out that, although consulting engineers in South Africa are faced with the demand for fast project delivery, this is being hindered by inadequate planning. “We see far too many rush and crisis projects in industry and this impedes on quality delivery of the projects. “With proper planning, we can create a much more sustainable industry that results in cost-effective implementation and innovative projects.”
He highlights that a drop in foreign investment in South African projects is a further hindrance to the industry. He states that this is not solely due to the weaker rand, but that a number of factors have led to this decrease in foreign direct investment.
“Procurement processes of professional consulting services are currently posing further challenges to the industry. “However, the National Treasury has, as of next month, implemented a new system, which includes quality assessment. “This will be a step in the right direction for the country and the benefits of the new legislation will be welcomed in the consulting engineering industry,” says Olivier.
Owing to the growing population and the South African government’s intentions to provide all citizens access to electricity, the country’s consulting engineering firms can capitalise on this increasing demand for infrastructure. Olivier suggests that, in South Africa, the major potential for growth in the engineering consulting industry lies in the provision of water, urban infrastructure and renewable energy.
Further, he notes that, the employment rate of graduate engineers is set to be boosted by this increase in demand for infrastructural projects. “The demand for infrastructure and its maintenance is massive. Notwithstanding the changing digital environment of today, one still cannot replace the human input required in these infrastructure projects.”
Regarding the company’s pipeline of projects, major road rehabilitation and expansion projects, along with large-scale water supply network systems and tailings dam projects, are being designed at present.