In April, PDNA was acquired by Mott MacDonald and has been trading as Mott MacDonald PDNA since 1 June. Richard Jansen van Vuuren speaks to Dempsey Naidoo, managing director of Mott MacDonald PDNA, about what this means for PDNA.

THE HISTORY OF PD Naidoo & Associates (PDNA) is an inspirational one. The company began in a small backroom in Lenasia on the back of a personal commitment made by the members of the firm – that they establish themselves as role models for the community. The company grew exponentially, with financial turnover figures growing organically 25% year-on-year, and, in turn, staff and resources increased as did the size of contracts undertaken by the company.

“Today, having established ourselves as one of the country’s leading consulting firms over 27 years, it is satisfying to me that despite this we remain true to our origins,” states Naidoo. “The scale of our work has changed but its focus has not. We still pride ourselves in building services that enable people to better their lives and projects that contribute to the development of not only South Africa, but Africa as well. The values we began our journey with – integrity, humility and respect – remain the core of who we are now and the work we do,” he continues.

fact, it is these exact values that attracted Mott MacDonald, which had been looking for a local company to partner with, to PDNA. Mott MacDonald had been a significant role player on the African continent for many years with a modest local office in South Africa. Looking to bolster its South African presence with a local firm with specific requirements such as an existing African footprint, genuine BEE, succession planning and a strong ethos of business morals and ethics, it approached PDNA.

“A decision was made by the board of PDNA to proceed with the negotiations based on the firm’s long-term strategy. We were looking at a scenario, three to five years from now, where the projects that will stem from the National Development Plan and Strategic Integrated Projects will be either nearing completion or in full swing,” explains Naidoo.

The management for Mott MacDonald PDNA will be South African stemming primarily from PDNA, reporting to Mott MacDonald International. The deal is a major boost of foreign direct investment for South Africa.

Mott MacDonald and PDNA were already working together on a range of significant projects, including the Eastern Cape Infrastructure Joint Venture, providing Transnet with engineering, procurement and construction management services, covering port infrastructure upgrade projects at Port Elizabeth, Port of Ngqura and East London.

The new entity will operate from 15 centres in South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique, providing multidisciplinary design, implementation and management services across the property, infrastructure, transport, water, industrial, mining, energy, communications as well as the health and education sectors.

The South African consulting engineering sector has seen several larger firms partner with global entities to boost competiveness outside of the borders of South Africa – and in return, the international companies obtain the benefits of established local businesses.

“We would like to secure larger projects going forward and be able to draw on a significantly larger pool of resources in order to do so,” outlines Naidoo. This will challenge not only our staff in terms of personal growth, but also the legacy we leave within the communities we work in. We are also open to discussions with local government entities to examine how we can train and empower them in disciplines such as institutional finance and operations.

The firm is currently involved in the following local government projects and initiatives:
• The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative in Gauteng valued at R8 billion. PDNA is leading the programme management of the school infrastructure roll-out programme.

• The R2 billion upgrading of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works to address the sewerage capacity constraints within the Tshwane Metro area.

• The Ndwedwe street light project in Stanger (KwaZulu-Natal) where the use of LED lighting technology should reduce long-term operational costs. This project aims to assist the communities in this area obtain energy efficient lighting as well as provide safety and security in the area.

• The Department of Public Works took the decision to appoint PDNA as one of the leading consulting engineering firms to act as mentors for learner contractors within the Expanded Public Works Programme with their construction projects and aid them in business and financial management skills up to a point where the learner contractors can operate successfully on their own.

• In the City of Cape Town, PDNA is a subconsultant to HHO Africa and is responsible for the electrical design of all aspects  of the Atlantis Integrated Rapid Transport Infrastructure. The contract value is R113 million and the date of completion is scheduled for November 2013.