JG Afrika, a proudly South African consulting engineering firm, is celebrating 100 years of engineering and environmental excellence. This significant milestone bears testament to the skills, experience, dedication, and passion of a strong team of people who are committed to JG Afrika’s core values of ‘Experience’, ‘Quality’ and ‘Integrity’.
The company was first founded in Johannesburg in 1922 and was formally known as Jeffares & Green and has since grown into a leading multi-disciplinary engineering and environmental consultancy operating locally and internationally.
“I am exceptionally proud of this accomplishment as it demonstrates the sustainability of our business. There are only a few South African companies, and now only two local engineering firms, to have reached this milestone. Over the years, we have survived a world war, many far-reaching changes in government and its ideologies and, more recently, a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the global economy. We have always been quick to adapt to change and emerge stronger than before,” JG Afrika MD Paul Olivier says.
The company’s proud legacy was started by John L.S. Jeffares when he established JLS Jeffares Consulting Practice in Johannesburg. Jeffares was shortly awarded an OBE to pioneer a railway route from Victoria Falls to Walvis Bay. Five years later he was joined by Harold H. Green and together they undertook work throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including the hydrological study and access roads for Kariba Dam. In 1947, they formed a partnership, and the name Jeffares & Green was used for the first time.
Throughout the years the firm continued to progress and evolve and, in 2016, Jeffares & Green rebranded to JG Afrika to better reflect its African roots and commitment to uplifting the continent. The firm has continued to build on the reputation for quality engineering services that was established many years ago.
Apart from the main operating company focusing on the provision of consulting services in all fields of civil and structural engineering, the firm has since grown its professional service offering to now include as many as 23 different disciplines and fields of expertise. These are in high demand and the company’s extensive skills and experiences are being deployed in large infrastructure through to smaller community-based projects.
Olivier remains proud of all of JG Afrika’s projects, especially those that are improving the lives of the most vulnerable. “Our community-based projects are designed to have a significant positive socio-economic impact right from the early implementation phases. This is by providing ample opportunity for the training and development of members of poor communities located within the project footprint. It helps to create jobs in areas where there is high unemployment, while also ensuring the long-term sustainability of infrastructure because communities’ members have been adequately trained in monitoring and maintenance. Extensive public participation and stakeholder engagement processes also ensure project buy-in and unite different factions so that we can all work together efficiently towards achieving a common goal,” he says.
Innovation has remained at the heart of the firm for all these years. This is evidenced by, among others, the many awards that JG Afrika has received for its projects from leading professional bodies, such as the South African Institution of Civil Engineering and Consulting Engineers South Africa.
However, innovation will play a considerably larger role for the company as it harnesses new technologies and enters other markets that provide more opportunities for growth. This is in line with the company’s drive to expand its footprint in Africa and other continents, increasing its client base and, in so doing, ensuring business sustainability for many more years to come.
Olivier is convinced that he has the best team to help him drive this heightened focus on innovation. An environment has been created that encourages people to be innovative and find unique solutions to challenges. The company has preserved its strong family values and culture over the years. For most employees, JG Afrika is a “home away from home” and they have remained loyal to the firm for many years. This culture and working environment also attracts the best young talent to the company to ensure continuity.
Certainly, this milestone would also not have been possible without the ongoing support that the company continues to receive from its clients. Many have nurtured a longstanding professional relationship with JG Afrika. They value the firm’s ability to keep pace with their changing requirements and the demands of industry, especially over the past 10 to 15 years. This has been a period of significant change in the engineering and environmental sciences market. It is a trend that is expected to carry on unabated. Olivier is confident that the firm will continue to adapt to this disruption and respond to the immense opportunities that it brings.
“JG Afrika is only 100 years young, so there is still a lot of potential to learn and grow to ensure that we remain the best at what we do. We are looking forward to many more years of providing leading technical services, as well as innovative and sustainable solutions to our growing client base,” he concludes.