Tue, 18/12/2018 - 07:35
Current Issue 71
Pushing the Boundaries of Building
Employing 6,000 staff across West Africa, De Simone Limited continues to be the standard-bearer for progress when it comes to construction on the continent
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Meeting project deadlines and satisfying budget guidelines are two major challenges facing the construction industry in the 21st century.
According to KPMG’s Ninth Global Construction Survey, fewer than one third of construction projects come within 10 percent of their planned budgets, while approximately only a quarter of these are delivered on time.
A large contributor to such statistics is a lack of accurate contingency planning and estimations, often resulting in concerns for both the contractor and client.
However, one firm that is looking to change this trend and preconception is De Simone Limited – a company that has grown exponentially through its emphasis on excellence.
“Our main objective has always been achieving satisfaction for our clients,” explains Federico De Simone, one of the firm’s directors. “When we sign new agreements, we see it as our duty to stick to the terms of these.
“Ensuring that we keep costs down and deliver projects within outlined timeframes are of paramount importance, and we are proud to say that we readily meet our customers’ requirements in the vast majority of cases.
A unique understanding
Founded in Accra by Federico’s grandfather in 1964, De Simone Ltd has expanded from its humble beginnings as a commercial residence specialist. Today, it operates in five different countries throughout West Africa, employing 6,000 workers across a multitude of different divisions and subsidiaries.
Now standing as the leading building and civil construction player in the region, the Company continues to champion some of the continent’s most complex infrastructure developments, gaining both invaluable experience and an unrivalled reputation in the process.
Such is reflected in the firm’s ability to find great success in a range of different environments, each offering its own challenges.
De Simone explains: “When you’ve worked in this industry for as long as we have, you come to realise that although two countries are located in the same region, they are often completely different environments to work in, with different regulations, political climates, resources and expectations.
“However, having come to understand this over the years, De Simone Ltd is now able to readily enter new markets with greater foresight and understanding.”
Being established in multiple markets equally provides the firm with a competitive advantage, both through this understanding and in its ability to leverage a vast range of specialised resources from its extensive network.
“Accessing a multitude of different resource pools, we are able to rotate our resources between projects across the region when needed,” De Simone continues. “Ultimately, this gives us the ability to offer cost-effective services, maintain quality and reliability, and guarantee certain output levels.”
Raising the bar
The depth of De Simone Ltd’s capabilities are reflected in its extensive portfolio.
Having worked with a vast range of companies across a variety of industries, from ECOBANK and Nestlé in Tema, to Barclays Bank and CFAO Airport in Accra, De Simone is able to cite a number of high-quality developments.
Asked about the specifics, the Director reveals that recent highlights include the completion of two 20,000 square metre office complexes for Eris Properties, a South African independent fund that is backed by Momentum Africa, and two shopping centres in Abuja, Nigeria, working with an investment fund called Novare.
“In undertaking each of these projects, we encountered very few problems after putting in place a clear plan, allowing us to execute these developments both before time and on budget,” De Simone explains.
Further, calling upon some more personal favourites, the Director states that the Company was heavily involved in the construction of two US embassies and in building Ghana’s first ever mall.
He continues: “In undertaking a structural contract for the creation of the American embassies in Accra and Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, the use of high-quality materials allowed us to thrive. The procedures on this project were very particular – something that allowed us to excel with our coordinated approach.
“Similarly, when we finished Accra’s first mall, it was a real landmark for both us and the country,” he adds. “Not only was it the first development of its kind in Ghana, standing as a reference point for progress, it has since become one of the most successful retail centres in the region today.”
A balanced approach
Crucial to the success of these projects and countless others is the firm’s esteemed staff.
Having remained a local company since its inception, De Simone Ltd remains a stalwart of Ghana’s construction industry, with 95 percent of its staff being of local origin.
However, whilst its emphasis on local employment has made it a lynchpin of the national economy, De Simone is equally keen to ensure that it takes a balanced approach in providing equal opportunities throughout its operations.
“When working with a range of different clients, having a multitude of different cultural backgrounds within the organisation tends to make things easier in terms of communicating,” he explains. “To this end, while we emphasise local development opportunities, we allow both local people and international expats to thrive within our business.”
Similarly, this pro-diversification model is pursued in its supply chain, evident in the fact that the Company works with a combination of local and international partners, enabling an effective balance between efficiency and quality of delivery.
“In the construction sector there are a number of standard items that you need to build your core products that we source locally,” explains De Simone. “However, we are not afraid to import when needed, providing architects or clients with a satisfactory level of flexibility.
“As a contractor, we recognise that we have to be able to adapt to suit our clients’ needs.”
Reaching new heights
Built on this sound model, it seems that De Simone Ltd is set to continue to thrive into 2019 and beyond.
Asked about the Company’s priorities for the coming year, De Simone reveals that whilst investment in new technologies will continue to be pursued as one avenue of progression, the firm’s true key objective will be broadening its horizons into new regions and markets.
He concludes: “Having covered most of West Africa, we’re hoping to now take the next step into Central Africa and other new regions.
“Other than maintaining our standards and continuing the growth of all our operations, our primary aim for the coming years is broadening our scope.”