Consultancy deals blossom in Africa.

Posted On Monday, 14 October 2002 10:01 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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South African companies are well-positioned to capitalise on consultancy opportunities in Africa, but they should transfer skills when they win the contract, writes columnist Andrew Maggs.

Andrew Maggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the single biggest problems facing African governments is the inability to manage and implement projects effectively and efficiently.

It?s all very well for a government to secure project funding, whether it be from its development partners or from domestic resources, but if there is a lack of human and administrative capability within the authority charged with its implementation, then the project is compromised from the outset.

Some argue the problem stems from colonialism when key positions (particularly technical) within government ministries and departments were held by civil servants from the colonial power who, when independence was obtained, left in haste, leaving positions to be filled by inadequately trained and educated locals with little or no experience. Angola and Mozambique come to mind.

These days more and more emphasis is being placed on ensuring project implementing agencies have the proper execution skills and that human and administrative capacity is being strengthened.

And herein lies the opportunity, given that outside consultants are frequently called upon to tender for lucrative contracts that pertain to capacity building, training and activities relating to social sciences, loosely described as 'soft consultancies'.

Consider the following:
 
Zambia's Ministry of Finance and National Planning is seeking the services of a consultant to design a framework for developing relevant community and district indicators.

Tanzania's Commissioner of Insurance is to contract a consultant to assist in the development of supervisory methodology and a framework, including the drafting of regulatory guidelines and supporting accounting principles and standards.

Swaziland's Ministry of Public Works and Transport is seeking the services of a consultant to provide project audit services as part of a major roads project.

Tendering for 'soft consultancies' has become big business with individuals as well as multinational firms chasing contracts in Africa that in many cases are US dollar-based.

This is evidenced by one of South Africa's larger firms, better known for its auditing and management proficiency, establishing a unit dedicated to offering professional 'soft consultancy' into donor-funded projects.

However, one hopes the practice of using consultants will see a genuine transfer of skills and technology - for the last thing we want is a dependency of consultants when competent local officials can do the job.

- Andrew Maggs is an independent consultant specialising in new market development in Africa.

 

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