A newly established engineering firm, Osmotic Engineering Group (OEG), aims to collaborate with funders and financial, legal and environmental experts and others who prepare projects to financial close in the energy, water and telecommunications market.
Projects will typically include large-scale infrastructure ventures that are developed by means of public-private partnerships (PPPs) or other forms of project finance.
The AfDB highlights that total investment in PPP infrastructure increased nearly sixfold from $1.2 billion in 2004 to $6.9 billion in 2019, while the number of PPP projects doubled from 16 to 30.
Furthermore, the AfDB estimates that Africa will require infrastructure funding of up to $170 billion a year by 2025, with an estimated shortfall of around $100 billion a year. This is against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the continent’s GDP contract by 2.1% in 2020, its first recession in half a century.
Dr Frank Igboamalu, CEO of the newly established OEG, said: “Dealing with this problem is a complex issue that requires a combination of engineering excellence and readily available funding.”
Igboamalu explains that the company’s vision is to be the driving force behind sustainable infrastructure on the continent. The firm’s key focus areas are water, energy and telecommunications, with offices in South Africa and Nigeria at present.
Engineering entrant prepares for infrastructure growth with engineers at the helm
According to the company, its directors have deep experience, each being a specialist in one or more of the fields, and has worked for corporate and utility institutions in Africa. The team is highly skilled in project and business development, and also has expertise in managing various infrastructure projects across Africa.
“All infrastructure is ultimately related, as water, energy and telecommunications are essential for growth. We also have the opportunity to ensure that our infrastructure is future-proofed and capable of ushering in a new era of growth in Africa,” adds Igboamalu.
“By 2040, we want to see a continent where every person has access to potable water, electricity and connectivity.”
These are crucial due to the fact that, for example, half of the world lacks internet access, with 70% of that figure in Africa alone, and a similar situation in water and electricity. Hence, OEG came about as a grouping of highly experienced engineers looking at novel ways to resolve the infrastructure deficit on the continent.
“We are African engineers who can solve complex infrastructure problems in Africa, as we have ground-level insight into the issues that affect both communities and economies on the continent. What makes OEG unique is that we back up engineering solutions with funding solutions. Without the necessary funding, it is impractical to implement engineering solutions in Africa, even if these represent the best technology available globally,” highlights Igboamalu.
Business Development Director Ronnie Khoza describes OEG as a multidisciplinary engineering firm with a technical advisory and consulting capability. “We perceive ourselves as engineers who understand infrastructure development with the option to provide any project funding that is required,” explains Khoza.
“We are expanding in Africa and currently have strategic partnerships in several countries in order to assist us in addressing the lack of basic infrastructure in particular. Together with our funding and strategic partners, we are able to improve infrastructure service delivery,” highlights Khoza.
“It is an exciting approach to engineering advisory and consulting, and one that is not traditionally adopted by the industry. We do believe that this will prove to be a key differentiator for us in the market,” stresses Khoza.
However, OEG also collaborates with key players in the field as well as research institutions. “Partnerships are crucial to us, as we often find that the work undertaken by the industry is complementary, which means there is room for such collaboration.”