Block title

-

Zutari engineered to make a difference in Africa

- Advertisment -

Zutari, formerly known as Aurecon, is uniquely positioned to partner with clients to co-create fit-for-purpose solutions for infrastructure development

The African continent requires a minimum of US$130 billion annually for infrastructure development and preservation. Highlighting this number recently, the African Development Bank also pointed out a financing gap of around US$68–$108 billion. Over the past month various discussion documents have been published, calling for extensive investment in infrastructure development programmes. Barely a month after these announcements a ‘new’ player, Zutari, is auspiciously launched in the infrastructure space. This company’s primary focus is Africa and it believes all infrastructure projects must be engineered to have an impact.

Zutari CEO Dr Gustav Rohde

Zutari CEO Dr Gustav Rohde is quick to point out that the ‘new’ company is really one of the oldest in the industry on the continent. Formerly known as Aurecon, it was the merger of Africon, Connell Wagner and Ninham Shand in 2009. The latter can trace its history in Africa back to 1932 – operating for almost nine decades.

In October 2019, the owners of Aurecon Africa took the bold step of deciding to de-merge from the global business, headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. The process subsequently culminated in Zutari. The portmanteau name is derived from the Swahili for ‘invent’ and ‘nectar’, namely mzulia and nectari.

Of course back in October, no one could have predicted that the beginning of 2020 would see the emergence of a global pandemic, with Covid-19 having a devastating impact on both a macro-economic and a community level. Dr. Rohde, however, highlights that management could already see the winds of change push back against globalisation as early as September 2019.

“We could see the market changing, and so decided to de-merge from the global company to be proudly African. It is interesting how the pandemic has accelerated this trend towards localisation, especially as borders remain closed and international travel continues to be restricted. The fact that we are a private, management-owned company with African owners makes our commitment real – we have a vested interest in our clients’ success.”

It asks the question whether launching a new company in the current business environment is either an audacious or a risky move. The answer is that it is the culmination of a well-planned journey towards Zutari, which is committed to Africa because it believes passionately in its future.

About 75% of its nearly 2 000-strong multi-disciplinary employees are professional engineers, technologists or scientists. “I think there are very few companies that can match our local capacity, long-standing presence and understanding of the challenges required to operate successfully across this continent,” stresses Dr. Rohde. It is this deep skills base and long-standing presence on the continent that Zutari taps into to make a tangible difference in Africa.

“It is all about making a difference. This refers to responsible infrastructure projects that generate employment and improve local communities,” explains Dr. Rohde. Zutari aims to achieve these goals by partnering with its clients in a process of ‘co-creation’ to derive at ‘joint solutions that matter.’

Dr. Rohde elaborates further: “We work in conjunction with our clients, rather than going away and designing what we think to be the answer and then presenting it as a fait accompli. Here it is important to factor in the social impact of design.

“Ultimately as engineers, we are trained to focus on the technical aspects, but our solutions have both a social and an environmental impact. The best way to embrace these is through co-creation, where we also look at the end user of infrastructure, which allows us to deliver the most impactful engineering we are capable of.”

Infrastructure development must also be sustainable, which is why Zutari is a leading player in Africa in renewable energy solutions such as solar and wind power. Dr. Rohde stresses that true sustainability for any asset owner or operator focuses on responsible development.

This includes social and environmental factors, as well as embracing appropriate new technology. “It is also about well-rounded operations and a safe and motivated workforce. We work with our clients to deliver solutions that help them stay in business and thrive.”

The ‘new normal’ ushered in by the Covid-19 crisis saw the entire company transition successfully to remote working in March – a week before the hard lockdown came into effect. The company has steadily introduced digital technologies over the last decade, an investment now clearly paying dividends. Zutari is uniquely positioned to take on the challenges of working in Africa, where many project sites are remote and access is difficult.

As a final message, Dr. Rohde avers that the new company will focus exclusively on “solutions that are appropriate for the continent. What might be feasible for highly-developed markets like the US or Australia may not necessarily be affordable, let alone viable here. It is our vision and our commitment to achieve the full potential of Africa.”

Dr. Rohde sees the main infrastructure deficit on the continent as revolving around basic amenities such as water and wastewater services, transportation and energy. “Building a road, for example, is not an end in itself. Our vision as Zutari is that a road provides access, which facilitates economic development that, in turn, helps alleviate poverty and empowers communities. To address the infrastructure deficit, we need to approach both public and private sector priorities as integrated and holistic solutions.

“Infrastructure has been rightfully identified as a catalyst for growth and development. Many global companies who attempt to enter the African market do not know the best way to tackle its problems. We are right there at the coal face, where we can make the biggest impact possible,” Dr. Rohde concludes.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest articles

Growing cybersecurity threats

Cybercriminals have certainly been using the pandemic in their relentless phishing and ransomware attacks. They even disguise themselves as the World Health Organisation (WHO)...

Space Weather Forecasting is in its Infancy

Science writer Mark Zastrow recently wrote: “As humanity becomes ever more dependent on technology, nations are investing more resources into space weather forecasting to...

South African stakeholders commit to responsible AI

Much like a microcosm of our socio-economic context, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) landscape in South Africa is uneven and burdened with regulatory challenges. If...

Bluetooth 5.2 SoC for small two-layer PCB designs

Nordic has introduced the nRF52805 System-on-Chip (SoC) which is the seventh addition to the nRF52 Series. It augments the already extensive collection of wireless...

Solid Data Management – Fundamental to Achieving PoPI Compliance

By Johan Scheepers, Country Head at Commvault South Africa Sections of the long-anticipated Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act 4 of 2013 came into effect...

Building a geosmart business

By Marinus van der Merwe, CEO, Fernridge  Geospatial technology can be used to create a multi-dimensional snapshot of the entire business, helping to support key...
- Advertisement -

New partnership makes endpoint defense more accessible

Networks Unlimited launches new MSSP partnership with SentinelOne to make endpoint defense suite offering more accessible Networks Unlimited Africa and its vendor partner SentinelOne have...

WiFi for COVID-19 patients at Baragwanath

Putting patients in touch with loved ones Reflex Solutions in collaboration with Mustek, Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) and ESET installed free secure WiFi at Chris...

RS PRO queue system for crowded environments

SMART-Q beacon tower features luminous and acoustic signalling to manage the flow of customers and staff in environments where queues can typically gather  RS has introduced...

SilverBridge, DocFusion partnership drives digitalisation in financial services

Microsoft Managed Partners SilverBridge and DocFusion have entered into a strategic alliance that sees the DocFusion document generation solution integrated into the SilverBridge digital...

SensePost teams up with Orange Cyberdefense

From 1 August 2020, SensePost has changed the name of its ethical hacking team and related services to Orange Cyberdefense. CEO Dominic White says...