Industry body eyes ongoing partnership with municipal govt

22nd April 2016

By: Sascha Solomons


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Industry body Consulting Engineers South Africa (Cesa), a voluntary organi- sation of consulting engineering firms, plans to partner with government entities at municipal level in the long term to tackle challenges such as the lack of technical per- sonnel and poor service delivery.

Cesa CEO Chris Campbell says establishing relationships with organisation and government entities would prove beneficial to the mining industry in South Africa. He notes that this initiative could extend to assisting mining companies that are under pressure in terms of managing costs, highlighting that Cesa has the expertise, as well as capable member firms, to step in to provide the mining industry with the necessary support.

“Cesa wants to establish a partnership with municipalities across South Africa, as we have member firms with the requisite expertise to provide support on the plan- ning and execution phases of infrastructure projects [which benefit mining operations]. This modus operandi is not new and can be controlled with efficient and effective governance structures – it has probably just not been used widely enough. It can also be coupled with local capacitation initiatives towards mentorship and training of technical engineering resources, an initiative which seems to have fallen by the wayside for various reasons,” says Campbell.

He states that to establish such collaboration, Cesa will identify as many relevant entry points to government entities as possible.

Providing a precise timeframe for establishing such partnerships with municipalities will be difficult, as it is an ongoing process, “much like sitting down to start eating the proverbial elephant”. Mobility of persons assigned to technical roles in government may also be a challenge, notes Campbell.

“We have to put our shoulder to the wheel over the next few years and we know that, in 2019, we may start some of the processes all over again. Success does not come without perseverance,” he avers.


Cesa has 550 member companies, ranging from small to medium-sized and large firms, with a diverse staff complement of 23 000 people in both technical and support functions.

However, owing to the current lull in the industry, many member companies are struggling to keep a significant number of staff gainfully employed. Subsequently, the organisation is also aiming to strengthen its partnership with government entities to support infrastructure delivery.

To date, the bulk of spend on infrastructure development through the National Infrastructure Plan, adopted by government in 2012, has mostly been limited to import- ing equipment, with the direct benefit for consulting engineers being rather small, highlights Campbell.

“Our member firms have the capacity to deliver on more of these projects; however, we understand the challenges that exist in the infrastructure investment markets relating to the financing of these,” he says.

Campbell explains that there are 18 Strategic Integrated Projects and the consulting engineering industry has the expertise to play a role in each of these. In addition, Cesa is a member of the Group of African Member Associations and is able to leverage off the relationships with similar industry organisations throughout the African diaspora, where regional invest- ments are planned and localisation impera- tives need to be met.

He points out that there are some positive developments. A fair amount of work is going into the conceptual and feasibility stages of project development and projects currently in execution were actually planned several years ago. Further, there seems to be quite a few projects under way in the private sector involving the expansion of existing shopping malls and the construction of new shopping malls and office parks, which helps to keep many Cesa members afloat, concludes Campbell. Cesa is one of the leading members of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Edited by Tracy Hancock
Creamer Media Contributing Editor


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