Project management company Synergy Property Solutions (Synergy) says South African quantity surveyors should expand their operations to include African countries, as there are vast business opportunities in Africa, and it can assist them overcome the cyclical slumps in the South African economy.
Drawing from its own experience, Synergy has advanced into Africa and is working on several high-profile contracts in parts of Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. In countries such as the Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates and St Helena, the company is involved in multimillion-dollar developments.
Synergy has helped to complete the Kempinski Resort, in Seychelles, which has been developed by game lodge and hotel developer Mantis Group. Synergy has been able to secure a firm foothold in the Seychelles market because Mantis Group is respected as an in-house hotel development leader.
“In the Seychelles, we have completed work on the $150-million Kempinski Seychelles Resort, and have recently concluded the budgets and detailed design for the new Pangia Beach development,” explains Synergy owner Grant Hechter.
The first phase of the Kempinski Seychelles Resort project was complex and challenging for Synergy. However, he says that it has enabled Synergy to secure contracts for subsequent phases of the project.
“Synergy had to face competition from the existing network of consultants in the Seychelles. “Fortunately, our good track record of successfully completed hotel developments for Mantis Group gave the group the confidence to appoint us. Because Synergy is an accredited member firm of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS), this further endorsed our credentials,” he elaborates.
The company is currently in negotiations with contractors for the proposed development of a new luxury hotel on the island of St Helena. This project will include a 30-room hotel on the remote island.
“The completion of a new airport on the St Helena island – which is under construction – will unlock significant tourism opportunities,” he says.
Synergy has gained experience in working in remote locations because of its projects in the Seychelles and St Helena. The impact that such locations have on overall building costs have been made clear to Synergy.
“Availability of labour, procurement of supplies, shipping, duties, customs clearance, currency fluctuations, accommodation and general transport are issues that have a major impact on the overall building costs, which we don’t have to consider as much when working in South Africa,” he explains.
Synergy is handling quantity surveying for the Melia Lodge, in Serengeti. He says that this location is very remote, which, at the first phase, required the completion of a 40 km access road before construction work could start.
Hechter explains that South African quantity surveyors’ expertise relates to South African knowledge of local rates, building materials and methods and related commercial issues, which makes working in a foreign country more difficult.
However, he says, “South African quantity surveyors should seek more opportunities outside our borders and not be daunted by working in other parts of Africa,” observing that, “if ASAQS surveyors are prepared to take time and do proper research to gain the necessary knowledge of foreign conditions, they will have a chance to overcome the competition from other quantity surveyor practices already established in those areas”.
On a recent visit to Rwanda, Synergy senior associate Bruce McNicol was surprised by the general environment, development and construction opportunities that the country offers.
Meanwhile, Synergy is currently involved in a number of South African projects.
The company is working on the development of the award-winning Pearl Valley Golf & Country Estate, in the Western Cape, the Waterfront Business Park, in Humewood, Port Elizabeth and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s R57-million Life & Physical Sciences Building, also in Port Elizabeth.