Fuzile Felix Fongoqa, executive chairman of NAKO Group, provides insight into the newly established group.

How will NAKO Group contribute to realising the benefits of infrastructure development in Africa?
NAKO Group is an African-owned and operated multidisciplinary consulting engineering powerhouse operating across the African continent to deliver a range of specialised engineering services to the people of Africa. Our multicultural team, which reflects the rich diversity of the African continent, works closely with our clients to ascertain their needs and deliver projects way beyond their expectations. A combination of full-time offices and strategic partnerships with citizenowned firms in our countries of operation puts us in a prime position to provide sustainable engineering solutions for African conditions, utilising African expertise. With our empowering partnership model, we ensure that the benefits of the African Renaissance and growth are localised to Africa and no profits flow out of the continent.

What is NAKO Group’s philosophy about partnering, and what sort of criteria does the group look for in a partnership?
Our philosophy is based on the principles of mutual benefit, respect and accountability. We have a long-term investment strategy in our countries of operation and our aim is ensure that we grow the local expertise and the capacity. We therefore put a lot of effort into finding partners that share our ethos of long-term presence in the countries of operations, engineering excellence, investment in the development of local expertise and valueadding partnerships.

What are NAKO Group’s core strengths?
We provide a full range of consulting engineering services in infrastructure, sustainability and the environment, building services as well as mining and industrial developments. We have an adaptable contracting model which facilitates traditional contract models as well more complex ones, such as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) model. We have the expertise and experience in contracting under various conditions of contract including FIDIC, NEC, etc. We have the flexibility to undertake a range of projects from small community-based projects to large, complex landmark projects. So, our core strengths are: one-stop multidisciplinary consulting engineering services, adaptability in contracting models as well as flexibility in size and compexity of projects.

What are NAKO Group’s multidisciplinary capacities and what advantage do they offer clients?
We employ civil, structural, electrical, electronic and mechanical engineers as well as environmental scientists and project managers. This enables us to provide a full range of specialist services in various disciplines.*

Does having access to a multitude of engineering disciplines facilitate a more sustainable approach to infrastructure projects?
Absolutely! We have adopted the principles of sustainability in our approach to projects. The seamless integration of design teams ensures that we are able to develop better engineering solutions.

Which of NAKO Group’s more recent projects best highlight the advantages of being a multidisciplinary powerhouse, and how?
Chobe – Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme:
Pre-feasibility and feasibility studies were done on the utilisation of the water resources of the Chobe/ Zambezi River. Investigations included water demand computations, hydraulic design of associated infrastructure services (2 100 mm diameter pipeline, length 500 km), pipe route selection, life cycle cost estimates and economic analysis. We have completed the preliminary designs for all civil, structural, electrical, electronic and mechanical works associated with the intake works, pipelines, pumpstations, reservoirs and other associated works.
The PP2 Project at Sasol:
The Polypropylene Plant at Sasol was part of the overall Turbo Project at Sasol. ILISO, a member of the NAKO Group, in joint venture with LBE, worked on the project. The scope for the JV included structural design of the industrial buildings and a loading facility, detail engineering, construction drawings and site assistance. The industrial building was a typical multi-bay warehouse facility and capable of accommodating heavy cranes. The warehouse consisted of a number of structural steel frames and it was clad with sheet metal. The crane structure and the loading facility were built using reinforced concrete.
JLOS Project (Uganda):
The Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) project is currently in its design phase. It involves the design and construction of law courts, offices and the associated back of house space for the Uganda government. ILISO has been appointed as a multidisciplinary firm and will be responsible for the complete design. The scope of work that ILISO is responsible for includes that of project manager, principle agent, architect, mechanical, electrical, structural and civil engineering.

How can the private sector assist the public sector in Africa to deliver on the potential of the continent?
We have found the clients outside South Africa to be highly educated. They provide excellent project leadership and are a pleasure to work with. There is a growing realisation that a company like ours embraces the concept of true empowerment of their citizens and contributes positively to the development of skilled and experienced engineering professionals. Economic growth is associated with large-scale project delivery capability. Our value proposition to the public sector across the continent is our ability to deliver those large-scale multidisciplinary projects utilising our highly skilled and experienced engineers and developing the local expertise. Also, the private sector can play a significant role in providing training and mentorship for young professionals working in the public sector. We have embarked on a programme of sharing our in-house training materials with some public sector clients.

Where are the key growth areas for NAKO Group in Africa?
Our immediate target growth areas are in mining, industrial, energy, water and transportation sectors. Outside South Africa, we already have full time operations in Uganda and Zambia as well as strategic partnerships working on projects in Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. We will use this network of offices and strategic partnerships as a springboard to be the leading consulting engineering firm in sub-Saharan Africa.

What advice would you give other African companies considering venturing across borders?
Don’t believe everything you’ve been told about Africa. There are great engineering and project management skills out there. You must define your strategy and market approach carefully.

Finally, what legacy is NAKO Group building on the continent?
We believe that the economic growth in Africa is an ideal opportunity for Africa to develop its own skilled human resource base, particularly in the field of engineering. We want to be at the forefront of developing that resource base and be associated with the successful execution of large-scale, multidisciplinary projects. The legacy we are building is that Africans can deliver on large-scale complex multidisciplinary and landmark sustainable projects. We want those projects to stand proud as testament to that legacy.