A Construction Philosophy without Borders
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Stuart Parker
GHC Africa Project Management has built a prominent and reputable portfolio that spans the continent, representative of its competitive positioning in the industry for the past quarter of a century. Cementing ties with strategic business partners along the way, the Company has grown in tandem with regional industry trends and answered the exacting demands of clients with a proposition that focuses on areas of construction management, commercial management, development management and tenant coordination.
With initial business on the continent commencing in 1993 under Neil Graham & Associates, the Company’s rapid expansion dictated the need to expand its service offering and create new ways to add value for a growing number of customers. GHC Africa was borne out of a rebrand and desire to develop a full-service project management company.
“Since the rebrand in 1998, we have been able to push the boundaries of project management and challenge the norm, simultaneously expanding our own knowledge of operating in African markets and passing the benefit of our broad experience onto our clients,” says Nick Brown, Director, GHC Africa.
This ethos towards doing business in Africa runs in tandem with the Company’s ability to adapt to the ever-changing construction landscape, demonstrating GHC’s flexibility when working with crucial variables such as space requirements, competitive pricing and ensuring a consistent high quality finish each time.
“We believe we have found a better way to manage construction projects,” Brown says. “We do this by better understanding our clients’ needs and interpreting them into deliverables. We bring together the necessary expertise and control and actively monitor each aspect of a project to achieve timely, optimum completion.”
In furthering its total business proposition, GHC recently launched Origin Project Management; a 51 percent black-owned South African entity that it hopes will open new markets previously inaccessible to GHC. “Origin Project Management further showcases GHC’s long-term commitment to the continent’s development,” says Ivo Riva, Joint Managing Director (MD), Origin Project Management.
Leading from the front
Offering real input and value right across the project spectrum, GHC has been capitalising on the recent trend, and subsequent demand for, megaprojects in populous areas of East, West and South Africa.
Riva explains: “Over the past four to five years we’ve experienced a bias towards retail projects, some greenfield developments, such as the US$2.5 billion Mall of Africa, and other brownfield redevelopments; including Menlyn Shopping Centre and the flagship Sandton City. This trend looks set to continue over the next two to three years with our involvement in megaprojects planned for Tygervalley, Southgate and Mimosa, as well as further redevelopment at Menlyn, Midlands Mall and Sandton City. That said, there is a definite upturn in the commercial office space sector – both medium and high-rise prospects – and we are once again looking into the roll-out of affordable and ‘RDP’ housing as well as holding talks to build yet another hospital.”
Brown adds: “Ghana has been at the epicentre of GHC’s Africa retail focus having established an office here in recent years. The US$100 million West Hills Mall and the US$60 million Achimota Mall just a taster of the Company’s completed projects; with Kumasi City Mall, Ecobank’s head office high-rise building, Phase 2 extension to Accra Mall and the new Terminal 3 at Kotoka International Airport promising to add even further variety to its US$500 million African portfolio.
“Zambia has been another important market for us, having completed the US$120 million Levy Junction Park project, a mixed-use development comprising retail, hotel and an office component,” Brown notes.
Adding to its recent launch of Origin Project Management, GHC is also considering geographic expansion opportunities in Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique and Angola; making strategic decisions in tandem with its partners on a case-by-case basis.
“Based on our past successes in delivering projects on time and within budget, under challenging conditions, we have a good order book going forward,” Brown explains.
Complementing its reputation, strong portfolio and service offering is GHC Africa’s ability to “lead from the front”, while remaining focused on the job at hand and the goals that need to be achieved to deliver a project.
He says: “We are proud of our retention history and multiskilling capabilities when it comes to our staff. Our company culture is a crucial differentiator which brings a whole host of proficiencies to all the projects we undertake. We offer a no-nonsense attitude to business and service excellence; aiming to give 110 percent to our clients and colleagues every day.”
GHC has learned to operate with one unified strategy in every country in which it conducts business; a strategy that has served to solidify local relationships and continues to open up new horizons in terms of further business opportunities.
“We find that our philosophies and culture do not have borders, and these are sound best practices that we apply wherever we go,” highlights Brown.
“Our strength is to deliver projects despite the challenges with which we are faced, and these are numerous in Africa. It is all too easy to delay taking action or simply accept the status quo when working out of one’s comfort zone. The key is to continually drive for results while respecting and recognising the different cultures and working environments based on individual merit.”
Going forward, GHC Africa and Origin Project Management will continue to place emphasis on building those all-important local relationships that mark a crucial differentiator for those who succeed in construction and project management in the long-term.
Brown details: “GHC’s work outside South Africa was initially fathered by the Company’s local presence and it is these continuing relationships that continue to open up new horizons and opportunities across the continent. Solid relationships, our reputation and the understanding that we are only as good as our last project drives our progress and success today.
“Importantly, we treat every project as a key project and attach the same value to its successful delivery. Often, small successes lead to bigger projects and therefore, even a small project has the potential to either harm or boost our reputation. We give all our projects respect.”
Targeting key growth markets on the continent and focusing on both local and international clientele, GHC Africa is looking to sustain the same growth levels it is experiencing now, well into the future.
“By consistently providing a bespoke managed service to our clients while being able to provide a balance between international expertise and local knowledge, we expect to remain the go-to Company for construction and project management services down the line in South Africa and across the continent,” Brown concludes.