Engineering, design, and advisory company Aurecon Africa has taken a bold step to demerge from the global Aurecon brand to position itself as a business aimed at the African market. In October 2019, Aurecon officially announced the separation of the African business from the Aurecon Group, effective from 1 January 2020.
While being part of a global engineering and advisory firm has helped the company achieve immense successes and growth over the past decade, the landscape has changed, requiring agile, locally-relevant, and Afrocentric solutions.
“Having all decision-making and ownership in the hands of Africans will increase our agility and capability to deliver appropriate and relevant offerings,” Aurecon Africa Chief Executive Officer Gustav Rohde comments. Prior to his new role, Rohde served as Aurecon’s global Chief Operating Officer, and played a key role in preparing the company for a digital rich-future.
The company is undergoing many changes, including a total rebranding process, with a completely new name in Zutari, which reflects the company’s African heritage. The name was derived by combining two Swahili words mzulia (invent) and nectari (nectar). Swahili is the most spoken language on the continent.
The new name reflects Afro-optimism and Pan-Africanism and appeals to a global audience. It balances analytical and technical engineering with creativity and innovation to demonstrate that the new company is about much more than traditional engineering.
In positioning the new company for success, Aurecon Africa recently achieved a Level 1 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) status. Three recent senior appointments, with Rohde at the helm, will assist the new entity to nurture its skills, supplier, and socio-economic development goals. “B-BBEE has always been a strategic imperative for us, and therefore our Level 1 status is an important affirmation,” Rohde adds.
Joseph Ndala has been appointed as a Director and Chief Financial Officer for Africa. “The finance role has evolved throughout industry, but engineers are pathfinders in delivering sustainable infrastructure. We are faced with two issues in Africa: Maintaining and upgrading current infrastructure, and at the same time encouraging new build to stimulate economic growth.”
Imraan Mahomed has been appointed eThekwini Office Manager. “Aurecon is currently repositioning the business for better focus on performance and growth in Africa, which makes it an exciting time to join.” He adds that the sector is in a major state of flux, and now is the ideal time for the company to capitalise on these changes and provide clients with a new brand for a new engineering industry.
“The advent of digital technology and the gig economy could mean a shift towards commoditised engineering design, greater use of modular solutions, and more low-cost, highly-skilled design hubs. South Africa’s high quality of engineering and lower costs compared to certain other parts of the world means that we can use digital tools to sell our services almost anywhere,” Mahomed highlights.
Bulelwa Leni has been appointed East London Office Manager. Leni joined Aurecon as a Technical Director in its Advisory Unit in May 2018. She was voted National Young Technologist of the Year by the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE). Leni has been pivotal in the company’s digital transformation, creating a simplified and sustainable approach to infrastructure delivery and maintenance.
“The diversity of people and projects at Aurecon is exciting, challenging, and personally fulfilling. I look forward to helping our clients conceptualise and implement projects that will lead to a brighter future for Africans,” Leni stresses.
Dr. Lulu Gwagwa, Chairperson of Aurecon Africa, is encouraged and excited to see the new direction in which the company is going. “I am very proud to be part of this journey, and I look forward to steering the new company towards success. No doubt we face serious challenges on the continent, but being part of finding human-centric solutions is very rewarding.”
Rohde affirms: “We have been operating on the continent for more than 85 years and have been active outside of South Africa for the last 50 years. Africa is our home and is where we want to grow our business. With many losing appetite to work on the continent, this decision goes against the tide, but we believe the opportunities in Africa are vast. Being an African-owned business shows our commitment to the aspirations of our people and our continent.”