Contributions To The Ghanaian Construction Industry
Ghanaian construction consultancy firm G. Ampofo & Partners was established in 1978 and it is well versed in managing countrywide projects. Africa Outlook talks to Managing Director Sam Asare.
Writer Rebecca Wigmore
Project manager Arron Rampling
For almost 40 years, G. Ampofo & Partners has been building a distinguished reputation as one of the most trusted construction management firms in Africa. Based in Ghana, the company offers a wide variety of services including quantity surveying, management and construction cost consultancy, and project management.
GA&P, as it is often abbreviated, has worked on a number of countrywide projects including the design and supervision of classroom pavilions and technical auditing of the community secondary school project for the Ministry of Education and it has provided project management services to International companies such as AP Moeller Maersk Group. These include the Maersk Office Project, which is now the head office of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, and the recently commissioned 36,000square metre Inland Container Terminal in Tema for APM Terminals.
"We [consistently] raise our construction standards to match international practice and work to maintain high ethical standards," Sam Asare, the company's Managing Director explains.
In addition to efforts to keep improving services, GA&P has worked hard to diversify and provide every service a client might need under one roof so that the complex process of construction management is kept as simple and streamlined as possible.
"The founder of the firm and I set up a consortium that would provide that one-stop shop. We also worked to deepen the scope of our services so we include project management and value-added technical advice and auditing services," Asare says.
This approach has paid dividends and in the past few years the firm has worked with countless international funders who have financed projects that include cost model development for the construction of a World Bank Group office in Ghana, a technical advisory role in the development of One Airport Square in Accra, pre and post contract administration for Scancom Ghana (Ltd) and the development of five storey office buildings in Takoradi, Tumale and Kumasi for the National Communication Authority.
Riding the Boom
However, running a company like GA&P isn't without its challenges. The business supports around ten employees, although that number can fluctuate.
"We try to provide a blend of both mature and young professionals who stay the course. All three shareholders including myself started right at the bottom and worked our way up to being directors. All shareholders are full-time and we are part of the team. Then we have professionals and technicians, the number of which has grown or shrunk, depending on our future prospects," says Asare.
Dealing with economic instability is one of the greatest managerial battles facing GA&P. Despite the firm's excellent reputation and expertise, Asare has experienced firsthand how the changing fortunes of the Ghanaian economy and accompanying political climate can derail any number of projects.
"I think the biggest challenge is adapting to the developing economy and that challenge is peculiar to the construction of built environment. There isn't always adequate resources to fund all the developments," he explains. "There's political instability. We're waiting for the developing economy to catch up with the rest of the world. Governments come and go; there's turbulence in the system. I know that in the developed economies of Europe and the U.S. the construction industry can be turbulent and it is even more pronounced in developing economy like Ghana."
As we talk, it becomes clear that the ability to adapt is a crucial trait to possess if you want to survive in construction consultancy in Ghana.
Asare has been working with GA&P for over 33 years and has been Managing Director for the last 11 years. Over that period there has been tremendous change in the industry.
"I came straight from school and it is quite amazing what technology has done to improve efficiency in business over the years. I think client requirements have change and procurement strategies have change. Sometimes we have a joint venture with foreign firms with better resources and occasionally it puts us at a disadvantage. But I think our biggest challenge is not having enough resources. Construction tends to be an economic barometer - if there's a boom, we ride the boom. If there's a depression, the industry is the first one to suffer."
Opportunities for the best & the brightest
Perhaps because of its ability to weather the storm of a fluctuating marketplace, the future looks bright for GA&P. As Asare is keen to stress, there is no shortage of expertise in the workforce. There is too an obvious commitment to recruiting and nurturing the best available team. "We recruit at all levels – for instance, at the moment we are doing a project for a bank, part of which means we have to advice the sanction of all loans, and exercise due diligence," says Asare, explaining the hiring process. "So we had to look for somebody who already had the know-how. I brought somebody down from London who has already been exposed to and involved in that kind of work. From his previous experience, I knew he was the right person for the job. We also take on young men and women who have just finished their degrees and if they have the aptitude, the right attitude and are trainable, we'll recruit them. We then mentor [the recruits] and take them through continuous professional development. Those that are good stay on and those that don't meet our high professional standards have to go."
Perhaps this unstinting professionalism and commitment to quality explains why GA&P has survived for decades.
Although procurement in the construction industry is always changing, especially when considering design and project builds, Asare seems quietly confident about the company's strategy. "The plan for the future is to remain competitive and relevant. We need to take partnership in bigger building environments so we can offer a more diversified service. We need to adapt to change to remain relevant instead of waiting to be commissioned by an employer. We are looking to go into partnership with developers so that we can provide a service beyond what is traditionally offered. We need to be on par [with international standards] and we want to be on that level."
To learn more visit www.gampofo.com