AfricaLive: Please tell readers a bit about the DNA of ADK Consortium and your motivation for starting the enterprise.
Michael Krakue: This firm started with my father at the helm with his quantity surveyor experience. I arrived back from my studies in England in 1995 and joined forces with my dad to form a multidisciplinary consortium. My motivation for coming home had a lot to do with my dad, who kept urging me to return after my studies. When I got back, I saw the need to stay and take part in the development of the country I love. ADK is now a big firm that focuses on listening and delivering deliverables to our clients in the best way possible.
AfricaLive: The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area will be going ahead in early 2021, hopefully acting as a catalyst for driving Intra-African trade. What are your ambitions, both in the short term and long term, when it comes to trading internationally?
Michael Krakue: At ADK, we are always forward-thinking, and we have an eye for business expansion. Continuous improvement is also a big part of our agenda. Improving our processes through an ISO Certified process, which we are at the tail end of, will be a big boost for us. Our international agenda has seen us set up a desk office in London, and we will soon have a desk office in South Africa. We want to get involved in some of the work coming through from Europe and Southern Africa.
Our government has laid out plans for the integration of our aluminium and bauxite deposits, and that excites us. Government plans with aluminium coupled with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will provide a lot of opportunities for us technocrats as well as engineers. There is going to be a lot of mining, refining and smelting, which presents huge opportunities. Our short to medium term ambition though is having offices set up in the UK and South Africa with the Ghana office being the main hub.
AfricaLive: Within Ghana and West Africa, what do you consider to be the primary opportunities and threats facing your sector?
Michael Krakue: We have massive opportunities when it comes to our youth. With the right training and nurturing, we can develop the next generation of talent.
COVID-19 has been a major threat and bump to our sector. The curve is, however, flattening and we hope that once this is over, economies can open up in a big way. I foresee more opportunities coming to Africa after the pandemic. We also anticipate opportunities from a much-changed and more interconnected world. African technocrats have been ignored for so long, but I see that changing soon. The opportunities will trickle down to even the technocrats at lower levels, and if that happens, we will see a much-improved continent.
AfricaLive: Globally, engineering courses at university level have a very high dropout rate. How can the higher education sector and the engineering sector work together to develop the engineering skills Africa needs to fuel its growth?
Michael Krakue: We have to step up efforts as a country to ensure that more engineers are coming through. At the moment, we have about 80 per cent of Ghanaian engineers opting to ply their trade abroad because they find opportunities limited here. Governments all over the continent need to develop a strategic plan to ensure we churn out more engineers. Support systems must be in place so that we don’t lose our top talent.
Our authorities can put in place policies that prioritise local engineers when it comes to the award of projects. Such policies would excite students and lead to the emergence of a class of highly competent local engineers. Lucrative opportunities for local practitioners along with a keen quality check from the National Institute of Engineers can only lead to a crop of high-quality engineers.
AfricaLive: Ghana has a local content policy that many in your industry want to be enforced more ruthlessly. How can a balance between a strict local content policy and a suitable environment for foreign investors be struck?
Michael Krakue: We understand that encouraging investors to come in is important. A proper balance will be struck if local practitioners partner with incoming foreign investors. Foreign investors usually have sufficient capital to dominate whole industries in a country like ours. When this happens, local technocrats often feel marginalised and neglected. The best way is to partner up with locals, so we don’t feel left out as indigenous companies.
AfricaLive: What are some of the trends coming up in your industry, and how are you looking to form partnerships that will strengthen your country and region?
Michael Krakue:: We are going to be ISO certified by the end of the year, and that will set us apart in a big way. By the end of the certification process, we will become a firm that innovates more and executes better. We must come up with ways of passing information remotely, instead of having to trek to the site every day. Technology must play a big role going into a post-COVID-19 world so that we keep up with trends and stay ahead of competitors.
AfricaLive: If you were to bring together Ghana’s leaders from government, higher education, and business to a roundtable meeting held at your HQ – what would be the main item on your agenda?
Michael Krakue: I would seek to know their idea of where we should go in terms of our infrastructure. We have come to a stage in our development where we must identify and prioritise the building of a top ten or twenty projects, which our economy will bank on in the next decade. There are always fears that a new administration might be apathetic to a project started by a previous regime. Fear of project stagnation keeps investors away. We must clearly stipulate projects that will be undertaken no matter what administration comes into power. A commitment to long term infrastructure projects will give investors the confidence to stay involved, and will also motivate local technocrats to push themselves so that they can contribute gainfully.
AfricaLive: What project are you most proud of so far?
Michael Krakue: The re-configuration of parliament is by far our best project. The building had been put up by our late great founding President Kwame Nkrumah in the ‘60s. Some had determined that only a foreign contractor would be able to take on the project due to its unique design and size. To our government’s credit, we got the job. Our successful execution led to more jobs and tremendous growth.
AfricaLive: What message would you like to communicate regarding your company and regarding Ghana?
Michael Krakue: We are a company with clear goals and high competencies. Our ambition is to be a market leader in the country and to branch out into other countries in West Africa. It’s exciting to be African at the moment since we have a young population that is actively seeking opportunities and is eager to learn. Free education programmes being launched all over the continent are boosting literacy levels at high rates. Over the next decade, we are looking at a continent that will be looked upon for its high-quality human capital.