On Friday 08 July 2011, the world welcomed a new independent country to the map; Republic of South Sudan. South Sudan, which broke free from what used to be Sudan governed from Khartoum, will now have its own government with its own capital in the city of Juba. As a new country comes into being, opportunities and new potential relationships await investors and businesses internationally. Western countries and their private companies are already forming relationships, both on national and economic bases.
The built environment in general stands to benefit from these raw opportunities of building new cities, new buildings and new national symbols of South Sudan. The City of Juba, which is currently characterized by slums, is to undergo a 7billion US dollar re-planning, most of which will be funded by private investors. Canadian firms in partnership with Sudanese firms are already drawing up master plans for the capital city and the second city of Wabu, which is also to be developed. The new republic also boasts of oil reserve, much of Sudan’s 480,000 barrels-a-day oil comes from the newly established South Sudan.
These opportunities are there for our local CI companies to explore. In fact the rest of sub-Sahara Africa is there to be explored, including our neighbouring relatively similar economies such as Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi. Botswana has over the years maintained a strong economy and superiority of its currency, but our firms have been slow to maximise from the buying potential of our currency. More often our local firms are more than happy to bring in international partners for opportunities here, but rarely venture out into the wider economy of Africa to take advantage of other opportunities.
Our local CI is experiencing a slump in new projects, characterised by Government’s freeze of all new projects announced in the 2011-12 budget. This freeze exposes the over reliance of our CI on government. The only projects that are still going ahead are those deemed of ‘national importance’ such as the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), North-South Water Carrier project, and Mmamabula Energy Project (MEP), but sadly these mega projects are out of reach for many of our local small companies under current procuring methods. Therefore in order to survive, the local CI needs to begin weaning itself from government tenders and venture into other African markets.
It is very encouraging to see local firms such as Turnstar Holdings keeping their own in countries like Tanzania and Kenya. Letshego and others too are venturing out to what really is the wider market with good opportunities. Other design firms such as Moralo Designs and MPI are currently establishing themselves in West Africa. While many local firms have tried to set up in SA, the CI market there has proven to be very conservative and hard to penetrate. This is the feeling I got from local firms who regularly partner with South African firms for local work. Ironically they can’t get much partnership work on the South African side.
Our local CI firms need to actively look for opportunities in other developing economies across Africa for expanding their services. Countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia and others present credible opportunities for diversification.
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