African Contractors Feel Threatened by Foreigners

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Construction and contractors associations in Africa recently formed the African Federation for Construction Contractors Association. The association was established last month in Cairo, Egypt at the end of a meeting of some 25 countries, which was called by the Egyptian Federation of the African Continent. The association was formed, among others things, to ensure that Africans enjoy the wealth of the continent and also carry out what is in the best interest of the contracting profession in Africa. In its declaration, the continental body says in order to protect and develop the contracting works profession on the continent and to increase its competitive edge, the association will call for the support of common Africa design centers and houses of expertise and engineering to assume the preparation of common design and specifications regarding projects of national and strategic importance. It will also establish training centers at the level of different professions taking part in contracting work, in which the technical, administrative and other capabilities in the African construction companies would be raised. The association will also encourage African governments to conclude bilateral and multilateral agreements aimed at protecting and supporting African construction companies. Renate Schmidt, President of the Construction Industries Federation of Namibia, attended the inaugural conference that created the continental body. She said in a press statement earlier that although the aims and objectives of the body were not made very clear, it emerged in private talks of countries that the growing Chinese involvement in construction all over Africa was one of the problems. In this regard, the Cairo meeting also declared that the association should promote, encourage and give preference to the African industries and suppliers of construction material and use and invest in African potential and resources so that the reliance on imports from outside are reduced. The association will also create effective mechanisms for providing financial support such as sureties, collateral, credit facilities and loans to African construction companies. “We call on African government funds and financial institutions to grant loans and aid for the execution of developmental projects on the African continent and outside in order to give wider opportunity to African contractors to participate in the execution of such projects,” the declaration further said. Cairo was named as the official headquarters of the association, which is headed by the Chairman of the Egyptian Federation for Construction and Building Contractors, Ahmed Mohammed El Sayed. The association’s executive committee comprises five vice-presidents and five Exco members representing five regions of Africa, namely, North, South, West, East and Central. The vice-presidents are from Morocco, Djibouti, South Africa, Mali and Chad, while the exco members come from Sudan, Kenya, Angola, Senegal and the Central African Republic.