Despite headwinds in the global economy, internationalisation will continue to drive the growth of companies in the engineering consultancy sector as infrastructure demand remains strong globally.
Meinhardt Group, a global engineering, planning and management firm, is working closely with International Enterprise Singapore, the government agency partnering Singapore companies in going global, on its expansion strategy to Africa and the Middle East.
This includes the company’s recent acquisition of African engineering consultancy to gain in-roads into East Africa.
Acquisition and expansion in Africa
According to the United Nations, several African cities are expected to grow by 50 per cent or more by 2030, causing severe stress on the availability of water, transport, housing and power. An additional $93 billion a year will be required to meet the demands of Africa’s urbanisation.
With this in mind, Meinhardt recently acquired a prominent engineering consultancy, Bhundia Associates, in Kenya, East Africa in late 2016.
IE Singapore has been sharing on-ground developments as well as connecting the company to key business partners in Kenya, eventually leading to the acquisition.
By tapping the existing established networks of Bhundia Associates, Meinhardt is able to jumpstart its entry into Kenya and East Africa. East Africa is the fastest growing sub-region in Africa, consisting of high growth economies including Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Acquisitions have been a key part of Meinhardt’s business strategy to amplify its global presence. Meinhardt’s new office positions the firm strategically within the region to offer its engineering expertise.
Under the leadership of Meinhardt’s headquarters in Singapore, this will bring a total workforce of 450 employees in over 11 offices across the Middle East and Africa, making it one of the largest international and infrastructure consulting firms in the region.
Omar Shahzad, CEO of Meinhardt Group, says: “We recognise that in a time of rapid technological advancement and greater competition from regional and global economies, expansion and innovation are essential elements to increase our relevance to the world.
“Being one of the first Singapore engineering companies to acquire and set up its operations in the East and North Africa is a testament to our reputation and capabilities.
“While we stay committed to our core markets in Southeast Asia, we would also take advantage of Kenya’s established financial system and investor-friendly outlook to scale up our business in this continent, using it as a gateway into Africa.”
Chua Taik Him, deputy CEO, IE Singapore, says: “Engineering services is a specialised business which requires deep knowledge, proven experiences and a sound understanding of markets to be globally competitive.
“Companies with these conditions are in high demand, and they need to scale quickly into global markets to sustain competitiveness.
“IE Singapore is happy to be able to work closely with one of such companies, Meinhardt, to apply its expertise in water and environment field in the fast-growing East Africa region.
“This is in line with our charter to help Singapore companies scale internationally to achieve first mover advantage and to advance competitiveness.”
This acquisition builds on Bhundia Associates’ 40 years of indigenous experience to provide innovative engineering solutions, Meinhardt says, adding that it will open its second office in Kigali, Rwanda in the first quarter of 2017.
Expansion in Middle East and Egypt
To diversify and capture new growth, Meinhardt is also targeting the Middle East, given the booming real estate and infrastructure development opportunities.
Meinhardt worked with IE Singapore to refine its strategy and broaden its business networks, having identified it as a potential market.
Currently, the Group’s office in Cairo is staffed with a team of 35 technical staff with plans to expand to 100 by 2020. This Cairo office will act as a resource centre for its projects in the Middle East.
Meinhardt is expanding its footprints steadily in these continents. It recently signed a cooperation agreement with Sharjah’s Electricity and Water Authority to modernise the water storage infrastructure in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates.