Global engineering consultants SRK Consulting are extending their footprint in Africa, building on local skills and experience in a wide range of technical fields vital to the continent’s sustainable development.
With 14 offices in African nations, including Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Zimbabwe, SRK has over 776 active projects on the continent in 26 different countries.
“Our expansion strategy is based on long-term investments in selected countries where we have identified the right local experts and a landscape of opportunity,” said SRK Consulting (SA) managing director Peter Labrum. “This may mean there are no quick returns, but we can ensure our exacting standards are applied and capacity is continuously built over time.”
The breadth of SRK’s service offering has steadily grown from its initial mining focus to serve markets including infrastructure, energy, local, provincial and national government, industry and agriculture.
“The importance of environmental and social services – especially as they relate to stakeholder engagement – has become critical to the success of mining and infrastructure projects in recent years,” said Labrum. “Demand for our water expertise has also grown due to infrastructure requirements, especially in rural areas.”
There are also increased opportunities for project monitoring, he said, to ensure that implementation proceeds as planned and achieves the expected impact, including the building of local capacity to strengthen sustainability.
Recent involvement in Cameroon has demonstrated how SRK’s wide range of engineering expertise can play a key role in unlocking Africa’s mineral wealth. As technical advisor to the government of Cameroon, SRK was part of the process to finalise the mining convention with Australian miner Sundance Resources – as well as concessions for a mineral terminal and railway – for the US$5 billion Mbalam iron ore project.
Challenging global economic conditions, aggravated by the recent Ebola epidemic, are making business in Africa difficult but there are signs that exploration activity is picking up in certain countries – which is likely to improve demand for various consulting services on the continent.
“South African founded in 1974, our 40 years of experience in Africa and our growing spectrum of skill sets equips us well to help clients find sustainable solutions in large and complex projects,” said Labrum. “Mining and industrial projects in Africa frequently involve new infrastructure developments and cross-border co-operation, requiring a high level of integrated planning and collaboration.”
He emphasised the importance of African professionals and technical skills to drive economic development on the continent, spreading the benefits of investment and ensuring that primary industries like mining and energy could create a broader foundation for diversified growth.