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Q&A with Dr Snowy Khoza, CE O o f B i g e n Africa

Bigen Africa CEO Dr Snowy Khoza talks targets, goals and African growth in an exclusive interview with South Africa Magazine.

By Ian Armitage

B

igen Africa, an African infrastructure development solution company, is ambitious. Established in 1971, it is renowned for its smarter business approach, interlocking world-class best-practices, development finance, engineering and management consulting expertise to customise innovation. The company currently has 14 branches in South Africa as well as other offices in other parts of the continent and it plans to expand its business in West Africa through Ghana

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before proceeding to East Africa through Kenya and then move on to Central and North Africa by 2016. In the past, Bigen Africa has successfully delivered cost-effective, sustainable infrastructure projects in several African countries, including Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, Ghana, Angola and Nigeria. We asked CEO Dr Snowy Khoza a few questions about the continent’s growth potential, how the firm is positioning itself as a premier infrastructure developer and ‘S-Vision 2016’.


Bigen Africa focus Infrastructure Development

A sustainable heritage… Bigen Africa has given the pre-schoolers of the Zithuthukile Crèche situated in the northern – Natal town of Newcastle a lasting gift – a solid and well-equipped four-classroom building replacing an outdated and dilapidated facility which posed safety risks to the children. The social investment initiative flows from a revenue management enhancement contract the Newcastle Local Municipality awarded Bigen Africa in 2003. “As part of our developmental agenda in doing good while doing business, our

When Bigen Africa visited the crèche for the

Revenue Management programme assists

first time, it had two buildings, one of which

the municipality in turning its debtor’s book

was donated by the then Iscor in 2000. The

into revenue through the application of eleven

other building was an old mud-built block

principles of revenue management,” says Dr

which was built by the community. The

Snowy Khoza, Bigen Africa CEO.

original classroom was held together by

“In line with our vision to provide

fencing wire. Bigen Africa committed funds

sustainable solutions over the entire lifecycle

plus sweat equity towards the building of

of infrastructure projects, our focus is on

the classrooms. The work commenced in

improving the quality of life of people. Our

the beginning of June 2011 and the project

policy on social responsibility has the same

was completed in August 2011.

focus – we do good in the communities in

Many community members benefitted

which we operate, in collaboration with local

from employment opportunities during the

stakeholders so that we can maximise the

construction, in addition to numerous part-

impact the infrastructure has on the lives

time opportunities, including brick-layers,

of the people,” says Snowy, a development

labourers, female cleaners, plumbers

activist at heart. “Our decision to support the children

and scholars to do decorate the outside walls. The additional

of Zithuthukile Crèche was based

classrooms

on recommendations

have improved

by the people of

the learning

Newcastle with whom

conditions in the

we worked on the

crèche. The kids

project. Stakeholders

are able to play freely and are

identified the crèche as the highest priority for receiving assistance,”

safely accommodated. The community in

says Wallie Louw Bigen Africa’s Managing

general is proud of the new building and

Principal responsible for the Asset and

as a result more parents are registering

Revenue management portfolio.

their kids at Zithuthukile.

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Bigen Africa focus Infrastructure Development

Dr Khoza, you took over as CEO from Bigen Africa founder Francois Swart, who retired in 2010, are you enjoying the challenge? I find my job exhilarating. As a development activist, my main contribution is to ensure that the company is well positioned, maintain its development activism and delivers its mandates accordingly in the infrastructure development space. This is going on well as we continue to support governments to deliver their infrastructure delivery mandates. I continue enjoying the tremendous support from shareholders, the board and our dedicated and enthusiastic team. What were your initial goals, targets and objectives? For me there were two major objectives that I wanted to achieve within the first two years of my responsibility in Bigen Africa. The context of this is that, at the time when I joined, Bigen Africa was a mature engineering firm at the peak of an S-curve. The shareholders and the board of directors wanted to optimise the company’s position in the market to create a next upward S-curve. With my experience in social and financial development work with the government, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the National Energy Regulator, I realised that the true essence of the company was that of an infrastructure development company rather than just another engineering firm. And that was probably my first objective – to guide the company towards a repositioning, away from pure engineering, to providing and applying infrastructure so that its 4

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Roadlab Roadlab was established in 1965 and have built a sound reputation inherent in large-scale civil engineering materials testing, with extensive experience in South Africa & Africa. Roadlab are SANAS Accreditation in accordance with ISO 17025 and is committed to generating synergy on all projects, adding value not only through the contribution of its resources, but through innovation, empowerment and excellence in service. Maintaining a highly motivated staff complement that ensures our clients receive only the best possible service and offering tailored solutions to our clients needs, Roadlab aim to become the dominant Civil Engineering Materials Laboratory, equipment and services provider in Sub-Saharan Africa by maximizing profitability and shareholder value and by delivering products and services that lead in quality, innovation, customer satisfaction and value. We measure this against the highest engineering standards and international best practices.


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socio-economic benefits impact significantly on the communities, improving people’s quality of life. The board and shareholders bought into what then became our S-Vision 2016 strategy. The second objective was our Africa footprint strategy - to fully reposition Bigen in the continent. As an Africa infrastructure company run by Africans who understand the African continent, I believed that we could do more than what we were doing. In this regard, our African footprint was expanded to cover southern, western and eastern parts of our continent, with a plan to later expand into the central and northern parts. We have ensured that our African solutions to infrastructure development benefit more countries than just a few. This has been done very well within our third objective of building strong strategic partnerships in infrastructure delivery. The partners have to have a willingness to take risks and share the upside of it with those countries that opened

E-Mail Addresses: info@roadlab.co.za Email: Deon Beekhuizen - deon@roadlab.co.za Email: Nico Herbst - nico@roadlab.co.za

We want to contribute to the strategies of communities and countries by addressing their key public policy priorities

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Bigen Africa focus Infrastructure Development

doors for us (within our indigenisation policy to build countries from within). We have become an African partner of choice for those international companies that are interested in developing the continent for the benefit of our people, rather for their profit interest only. Our development financing capability has also attracted great partners who are willing to bring their fair capital share into the continent. Although it sounds like a simple challenge, it entailed guiding the team away from its main focus on generating blueprints and technical drawings to introducing the element of community beneficiation. This process required a penetrating interrogation of our strategies, processes, and more importantly, our thinking. Has the company evolved under your leadership then? Yes it has. But even though I led the evolution as the ‘activist newcomer’ it has been a team effort supported by shareholders and the board. I believe change was necessary to take the company to a new level of sharper business acumen and stronger market penetration.

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DFR Engineers DFR Engineers is a dynamic and experienced electrical, electronic, and mechanical engineering consultancy with the capacity to provide comprehensive and valuedriven design and project management services. We provide specialist solutions to clients in the property, banking, commercial and industrial markets. Our dedicated and professional team of specialists have built a reputation of providing viable, durable and costeffective solutions to meet challenging project requirements throughout Africa. Visit the website for more information at www.dfreng.co.za


Thorntree View sets new boundaries for human settlements The design of the Thorntree View Integrated Development, a massive and ambitious human settlement between Tshwane’s Rosslyn and Soshanguve communities, provides a balance between the traditional concept of providing shelter and the need for economic growth and social and ecological development in the community. The development, situated in the north of the City of Tshwane, is a joint public-private Safdev SSDC initiative. Infrastructure development firm Bigen Africa provides the civil and electrical engineering consulting services. “Thorntree View is an embodiment of the Breaking New Ground principles at work. Its design stimulates wealth creation, poverty alleviation and equity by seamlessly blending 29 000 subsidised, institutional and bonded housing units with public open spaces, business and commercial stands, schools, sports fields and parks,” says Dr Snowy Khoza, Bigen Africa CEO. Already, over 14 000 residential units have been serviced, totalling a construction value of more than R240 million. The development also caters for 24 primary schools, 12 secondary schools, 35 business stands, 176 hectares of public open spaces and parks and 133 institutional sites which will be utilised as clinics, churches, crèches and community facilities. The Thorntree View concept and its application made the development so popular that it is now the fastest developing area in the City of Tswane. “Bigen Africa managed to combine best practices for human settlements with new initiatives developed specifically for Thorntree View. We had to densify and realign the already approved township layout in terms of Breaking New Ground principles, but without compromising the already issued development rights and ensuring that the flamboyance of the development was kept intact. This involved, amongst others, re-designing the sewer infrastructure to accommodate the previously installed the mid-block sewers.” says Dr Khoza.

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BES AFRICA

Bigen Africa helps realise Botwana’s development goals with North-South Carrier water transfer scheme Leading infrastructure development firm Bigen Africa has been appointed by Botswana’s Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources as representative for the second phase of its North-South Carrier (NSC) water transfer scheme. The NSC is a key aspect of the Botswana government’s long-term strategy to ease the water demand burden on the eastern part of the country. Phase two is aimed at completing a water transfer strategy which feeds on various dams, existing or newly emerging from the first phase, which was completed in 1999. “The Botswana government recognises the importance of infrastructural investment as a key foundation for national, regional and local economic growth and development,” says Dr Snowy Khoza, CEO of Bigen Africa, “and that local content is key to ensuring a direct contribution to the growth of the national economy. As these priorities align with the business focus of Bigen Africa as well as its mission of “doing good while doing business”, the company is the perfect choice for this commission.” Planning of the second phase was started in 2007 and construction commenced in the second quarter of 2012. It is anticipated that second-phase construction will be completed within 24 months, with commissioning and trial operation expected by mid-2014. The direct water transfer route (running primarily alongside north-south traffic route A1) passes the demand nodes of Palapye, Mahalapye and Mmamabula – where raw water treatment will occur – en route to Gaborone. The NSC is expected to deliver 45 Mm³ of water per annum and costs were estimated, in 2010, to amount to BWP5.5 billion.

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BES Africa Engineering & Management Consult Pty Ltd formerly trading as Batseta Engineering Services is an Engineering Consultancy registered in South Africa in 2010. As part of the Construction Codes of Good Practice, gazetted on 4 May 2009 which seeks to deal with past inequalities, Bigen committed itself to enhance sustainable growth of micro, medium and small Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) companies through their enterprise development programme. Accordingly BES Africa Engineering & Management Consult became a beneficiary of this programme. BES Africa Engineering & Management Consult is 100% black owned, with a level 1 BBBEE status. Services rendered include amongst others; • Project and Programme Management • Infrastructure Development Planning • Construction Management • Electro-Mechanical Engineering • Water and Sanitation • Roads and Stormwater • Transportation Engineering • Structural Engineering


BES Africa Engineering & Management Consult is a specialized multi-disciplinary engineering company which provides technical and professional expertise within infrastructure, development and planning. Our in-house engineering team is structured to identity and perform in these specialized areas to client’s requirements and specifications, with the ability to project manage, engineer and deliver beyond the customer’s expectations. In conjunction with our associates that provide high quality service in our areas of expertise we offer engineering services on a turnkey basis.

Products & Services: • Civil Construction Engineering • Civil Engineering Consulting Services • Electrical Engineering • Engineering Consulting Services • Environmental and Geophysical Engineering

Unit E101 Jacaranda Place Woodmead Business Park 145 Western Services Road Woodmead

Bigen is renowned for integrating the entire value chain in an infrastructure development. Why is that important? This approach ties in with our S-Vision 2016, which states that Bigen Africa is an infrastructure development firm that provides services in engineering, management consulting, development finance and advisory services. We say that infrastructure development is about the sustainable benefits of the socially desirable development outcomes that emanate from the use of the infrastructure. These include access to services, reduction of poverty, capacity building, empowerment and the creation of employment opportunities. We want to contribute to the strategies of communities and countries by

Tel: +27 11 656 4309 Fax: +27 11 656 4319 Email: admin@besafrica.co.za Website: www.besafrica.co.za

At K2M Environmental we believe that the company vision should be enshrined in our day-to-day activities through a set of core values and our vision is to build sustainable partnerships with our clients by offering best practice, cost effective and appropriate solutions through the integration of development and planning, information technology and information management skills. This vision is supported by a set of core values which include: · · · · ·

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Range of products and services: · Policy and Strategy Research and Development · Municipal Information Systems, Information Bureau Services and Cadastral Mapping · Project and Programme Management · Strategic Environmental Assessment & Environmental Impact Assessment studies · Socio-Economic Surveys and Analysis · Development Feasibility Analysis · Local Economic Development Plans KZN – Durban Mpumalanga – Witbank Nortwest – Potchefstroom

Cell: 082 7760 881 Email: gert@k2m.co.za www.southafricamag.com

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FROM THE LARGEST RESERVOIR TO THE SMALLEST HOUSE CONNECTION – BIGEN AFRICA HAS IT COVERED! Mangaung Metro has appointed infrastructure solutions company Bigen Africa to monitor the design and construction of a reservoir which will meet the 2015 water requirements of Bloemfontein’s rapidly growing southern suburbs. The company will also design the bulk supply pipeline from the reservoir to planned suburbs. The 45Ml reservoir, which will be built at Longridge in the south of the city, will nearly double the 47Ml storage capacity of the two existing reservoirs there. “The metro realised that the current storage

contractor, Ruwacon Construction, in favour of

2015 demand due to the rapid expansion in

precast columns and slab panels, so that wall,

the city’s southern suburbs,” says Bigen

floor and roof can be constructed separately

Africa’s Civil Engineering Principal: Robert

and therefore simultaneously. The result is a

Moffat. “These include the recently awarded

considerable saving in construction time, from

housing projects in Hillside View and Vista

an envisaged 22 months to 16 months.

Park Extensions 2 and 3, as well as expected

A separate tender is required for the

demand from the planned Liege Valley suburb.”

distribution main from the new Longridge

Both the reservoir and the pipeline will be the

reservoir, which will be 11.3km long, with

largest projects in their respective categories

the pipeline diameter starting at 800mm and

for Bloemfontein. They will serve about 16,000

tapering to 500mm. Various draw-offs will

households in Liege Valley and Hillside View,

occur along the way. The tender is due to be out

with further capacity to provide water to the

by the time this article appears in print.

Grasslands area (12,000 households). Always looking for ways to improve existing

10

column grid of 10 x 10m – was rejected by the

capacity was insufficient to meet the expected

Bigen Africa does not only involve itself in massive supply projects such as this,

technology and reduce expenses, Bigen Africa

but also gets its hands dirty by managing

has taken a fresh approach to the project from

contractors working on various water

scratch and considered various design options.

conservation and demand management

For the reservoir, both a rectangular and a

projects to curb losses and improve billing

circular design were considered, but the latter

on the demand side. These projects range

was found to be the more economical and

from repairing leaky residential water meters

optimal dimensions were established. These are

to fixing leaks on larger diameter pipelines,

a diameter of just under 75m and wall height

valves or reservoirs and refurbishing aging

of 11.4m, with the wall post tensioned both

infrastructure in pump stations. Such smaller

circumferentially and vertically, and tapering

projects are, nevertheless, vitally important

from a 700mm thickness at the bottom to

to Mangaung’s water loss reduction plan to

350mm at the top. The initial roof slab design

ensure that there is enough water for all the

– a 300mm thick post-tensioned flat slab on a

people of Mangaung!

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Bigen Africa focus Infrastructure Development

addressing their key public policy priorities - integrated human settlements, rural development, renewable energy, road and rail freight transport and the operation and maintenance of existing infrastructure. This can be achieved if the entire value chain from problem identification to building, operating and maintaining the infrastructure is interlocked with policy development and development financing. Does this approach set you apart from the competition? It does. We think from problem identification and get involved in policy support, helping in project financing to delivery. Our development finance approach sets us ahead of the pack I believe. Clients who partner with us are able to tap into our many development finance institutional partnerships. Projects follow money, not the other way round.

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Bigen Africa focus Infrastructure Development

Bigen Africa breaks new ground with Scottsdene housing project Bigen Africa has been appointed consulting

Deon Fabel, Executive Director : RSA South

engineers for a ground-breaking housing

at Bigen Africa. “By actively involving private

project in Scottsdene, Western Cape by Calgro

sector funders, government will go a long

M3 Holdings, the developer.

way towards achieving Minister Sexwale’s

Bigen Africa will undertake management and design of all civil engineering work required for this project, which follows

challenging target of delivering 220 000 homes a year between 2010 and 2014.” The four-year integrated housing

government’s new approach to developing

project in Scottsdene is set to be

integrated human settlements by actively

completed in 2015, is a successful example

involving private sector funders.

of building a truly integrated community,

This new approach is set to be more successful in addressing the national housing backlog, according to the parties involved.

and the first of its kind to be implemented in the Western Cape. “The idea behind this development is

Despite the fact that 2,8 million houses have

not to base housing just on a reliance of

been built since the advent of democracy,

Government funds,” says Patricia de Lille,

South Africa has “hardly moved in breaking

executive mayor of Cape Town, “but also to

the [housing] backlog at a rate of just 10

draw in the private sector to balance the

percent per annum”, says Tokyo Sexwale,

forces of the housing market.”

Human Settlements Minister. “This project is an encouraging and

The more than 2000 families to be housed in the 22 ha settlement will not only receive

decisive step in the right direction, and one

water and electricity services, but will also

which addresses both the housing backlog

benefit from a network of tarred cycling

and the high levels of unemployment,” says

lanes, sidewalks and taxi embayments.

How is the business performing? We had a very encouraging 2012 across the entire spectrum of our activities. For example, our revenue increased by five percent, our projects pipeline continued to expand and we have a healthy cash reserve. 51 percent of our revenue was generated by multi-divisional projects. We continue appointing key staff members to support our 2016 strategy and we remain encouraged by our pragmatic reach into the continent to broaden our income base and geographical reach. 12

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ENGINEERING- & CONSULTING SURVEYORS REGISTERED SURVEYORS, SPECIALISING IN INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

SERVICES: • • • • • • • •

Offices in Gauteng, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Gaborone

Engineering surveys and mapping for design purposes Construction setting out and verification Establishment and verification of control beacon networks As-built surveying, mapping and modelling for audit and verification purposes Placement of registered surveyors on site – long and short term projects Hydrographic- and sedimentation surveys, mapping and modelling – dams and rivers High definition terrestrial 3D laser scanning and modelling High definition mobile 3D laser scanning and modelling

What are your aims, targets and projections for 2013 and beyond? Basically our plans for the year are linked to our strategic objectives which are to: add new products and continuously improve existing products; increase the development impact of our strategic projects; expand our capabilities in mining, rail and EPCM, development economics and mechanical engineering; access and mobilise development finance for infrastructure projects within the continent; remain committed to zero tolerance to corruption; and develop a spirit of risk and performance sharing. Our S-Vision 2016 plots our Africa expansion plans, building on our current relatively low base. Firstly, we shall expand our presence in SADC countries through our Pretoria head office and our offices in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. Then we plan to broaden our reach into West Africa

We work in the whole of

Head office: + 27 12 347 7879 E-mail: quotations@trailsurveys.com Website: www.trailsurveys.com

through our branch in Ghana and partnerships in Senegal and Mali where we are already working on projects. In this region we target the roads and transport, industrial and mining, water and sanitation and housing and commercial development sectors. Lastly, when we have established a strong foothold there, we aim to expand into East Africa through Kenya. If there is justification for our presence anywhere on the continent of Africa, we are ready to become involved. How would you sum up the African opportunity? I would say I am optimistic and very excited that we can support our own African agenda. END To learn more visit www.bigenafrica.com. www.southafricamag.com 13


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Allan Cormack Street off Hotel Street Cnr Meiring Naude Road The Innovation Hub Pretoria Tel: +27 (0) 12 842 8700 Fax: +27 (0) 12 843 9000/9001 Email: pretoria@bigenafrica.com

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BIGEN AFRICA  

Bigen Africa Business Brochure - South Africa Magazine Issue 35