- Ghana’s ADK Consortium has announced ambitious international development plans to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
- Executive Chairman Ing. Michael Krakue has emphasised his commitment to plugging the region’s infrastructure deficit and calls for African governments’ long-term commitment to projects.
- Unlocking investment into megaprojects is vital for the continent’s future prosperity. Private sector leaders and technocrats have a vital role to play in facilitating increased investment inflow.
Ghana’s ADK Consortium is gearing up for international growth as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement opens up opportunities for Pan-African growth.
Announcing the developments in an interview with AfricaLive.net, Executive Chairman Ing. Michael Krakue stated “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 is having offices set up in the UK and South Africa with the Ghana office being the main hub.”
The ambitious development plans for ADK Consortium fit within the positive and ambitious vision Mr Krakue has for an African continent driven forwards by infrastructure development. Mr Krakue stresses that technocrats have a critical role to play in Africa’s development and calls for long-term commitment to infrastructure from Africa’s leaders.
Mr Krakue says “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.”
Infrastructure Development Commitment – Vital to Africa’s Youth
Africa’s youth population is growing faster than jobs are created. Every year, 10-12 million young Africans join the job market, however, only about 3 million jobs are created. Youth unemployment has been on a clear upward trajectory since 2008.
An estimated 60% of Africa’s 1.3 billion population are under age 25, with a median age of 19.7. Projections indicate the 18-35 demographic of 420 million could reach 800 million by 2050, and a third of the global youth will be in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Harnessing the demographic dividend and creating more opportunities through inclusive policies and initiatives is more important than ever. The population boom will put more pressure on already stretched amenities and infrastructure and heighten risks of criminality, unrest, and armed conflict, while perpetuating economic underperformance and a brain drain. Infrastructure development is one of several key sectors, including agriculture and manufacturing, that holds potential to drive long-term sustainable growth.
From serving basic needs in water, energy and transportation to enabling trade, sparking growth and creating jobs, infrastructure is essential to socio-economic development. Africa has seen a surge in infrastructure development projects in recent decades, yet there remains a significant infrastructure deficit. Almost 600 million Africans lack access to electricity grids, for example, poor rail and port facilities add 30-40% to the cost of goods traded regionally, and millions of people in fast-growing low- and middle-income countries are faced with inadequate water and sanitation systems.
Africa’s infrastructure sector is chronically underfunded; the investment gap is set to grow to USD 1.59 trillion by 2040, presenting opportunities for global investors.
Although Africa lacks large labour-intensive industrial sectors to absorb its burgeoning youth population, tailored initiatives, expedited policy reform and monitored implementation could enable governments plug the gap between skills development, access to finance and infrastructure needs.
Mr Krakue sees upskilling Africa’s youth as a vital part of the solution to the challenges facing the continent, saying “We have massive opportunities when it comes to our youth. With the right training and nurturing, we can develop the next generation of talent.”
“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. At the moment, about 80% of Ghanaian engineers opt to ply their trade abroad because they find opportunities limited in-country opportunities. We also have to ensure that more engineers are being trained.”
Call for Industry – Government Collaboration
As the COVID-19 pandemic hits young Africans with multiple shocks of disruptions to education and income losses due to lay-offs, enhancing job skills and talent retention is not merely an option; it is critical to Africa’s recovery and growth.
Every USD 1 billion invested in infrastructure has the potential to generate tens of thousands of jobs in African countries. Making the shift from a predominantly low and semi-skilled workforce to the high productivity sectors needed to generate the volume of jobs needed to reduce unemployment and inequality in Africa will require more targeted government intervention.
“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,” he adds.
“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.”
ADK Consortium: Over 40 Years of Excellence
ADK Consortium is a infrastructural development consultancy with a team of qualified and licensed engineers, architects and surveyors. Founded in the 1970s, the consultancy has a strong record of delivering services across architecture, civil engineering, project management, quantity surveying, services engineering and land and building management, amongst others. “This firm started with my father at the helm with his quantity surveyor experience. In 1995, I returned from my studies in England and joined forces with him to form a multidisciplinary consortium,” says Mr Krakue.
“I saw the need to stay in Ghana 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,” he adds.
From supervising the expansion of Kumasi Airport in the Ashanti Region to working on Toyota’s office complex in Accra, ADK Consortium has consistently delivered solutions and value to help shape communities and strengthen Ghana’s growth. The consortium works in sectors including hospitality, healthcare, and education and provides a wide range of infrastructure services, such as, building concept designs, topographical surveys, construction cost advisory and planning, plant and equipment valuation, and water supply and irrigation.
ADK Consortium embeds quality assurance in all project stages, based on both international ISO 9001 standards and in-house systems. The consultancy has over the years won multiple awards for civil engineering, architecture, and quantity surveying. In 2019, it won ‘Quantity Surveying Company of the Year’ in the West African Construction Awards; ‘Outstanding Infrastructure and Engineering Company of the Year’ in the Quality Excellence Awards; and ‘Engineering Company of the Year’ in Ghana Business Awards.
The consortium has a portfolio of high profile and challenging projects for public and private sector clients, including international companies, and is well-positioned to make a greater impact in infrastructure development across Africa. Flagship projects include;
ADK Consortium acted as consultants for the conversion of the State House Tower Block to Offices of Parliament.
In reflecting on the project he is most proud of, Mr Krakue says, “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 1960s. Some had determined that only a foreign consultant 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.
“We started with a structural integrity assessment and built an office complex consisting of a modern library, staff changing rooms, an auditorium, a post office, prayer rooms, a bank, kitchen and dining areas and a clinic.”
The parliament office complex has been an important component of deepening and consolidating democratic rule in Ghana. “Our successful execution led to more jobs and tremendous growth,” says Mr Krakue.
Rehabilitation and Expansion of the Kumawu, Konongo and Kwahu Water Systems
ADK Consortium promotes rural community development by providing sustainable water sources and reducing health risks associated with contaminated water. The water projects for the Ghana Water Company in the Ashanti and Eastern regions aimed to provide the Kumawu community with a potable water supply, following the breakdown of the previous system years prior, and rehabilitate and expand antiquated water supply systems in Konongo and Kwahu communities.
In Kumawu, the consortium built a water distribution network, a treatment plant, transmission lines, a district office, residential accommodation, and ground reservoirs to benefit over 10 communities. Activities in Konongo and Kwahu focused on increasing the availability of water during the dry season and improving water supply in the communities to meet demand from growing populations. The three projects provide 3.6 million gallons of water daily to dozens of communities, thus improving public health and stimulating socio-economic development in a country where the majority of the population lack access to reliable and safe water.
Development of Kumasi International Airport
ADK Consortium is the supervising consultant on the Kumasi International Airport expansion project, which constitutes part of the Ghanian government’s multi-modal transportation initiative expected to stimulate the country’s industrial and agricultural sectors and boost the tourism potential of the Ashanti Region. The project entails extending the runway from 1,981 metres to 2,300 metres, installing ground lighting landside, building access roads and a car park, constructing a new terminal building, a new hanger for more and larger aircraft, and a new air traffic control tower—as well as other ancillary airport facilities.
Kumasi is Ghana’s second-largest city; the international airport is expected to increase air traffic from about 500,000 to 1 million flights per year following its anticipated completion in October 2021. The expansion of the airport will also provide jobs, boost the local economy and increase local investment to enable Kumasi strategically compete with the capital, Accra.
Ongoing projects include a feasibility study for the World Bank’s maintenance of Odaw River Basin in Greater Accra, the design and review of Kumasi inner city roads and the Lands Commission Head Office complex, and engineering designs for the Priority Drainage Project in the Ashanti Region.
Scaling Up – “It’s exciting to be African at the moment”
ADK Consortium’s international growth plans are built on the solid base that decades of growth within Ghana have brought. As international investors increasingly see opportunities as outweighing risks in the major infrastructure projects Africa needs, the company is positioned to be a key driver of development in the west and south of the continent.
Mr Krakue explains “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. By the end of the certification process, we will become a firm that innovates more and executes better. 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.”
“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.”