African Construction Companies Move Beyond Mining In Rising Economies

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

From Reuters

Construction companies in sub-Saharan Africa are moving beyond mainstay mining work as rising wealth and urbanisation spark demand for shopping centres and better roads, the chief executive of South African builder Group Five said.

Mike Upton also told Reuters in an interview that some sub-Saharan governments were increasingly wary of previously favoured Chinese contractors, presenting an opportunity for local and other international firms.

“Africa for us previously – apart from the countries neighbouring South Africa – was really mining only,” Upton said in an interview late on Friday.

“As the economic impact of extraction starts to flow through into those economies, we start to see demand for shopping centres, housing and better roads.”

Johannesburg-based Group Five, South Africa’s fourth-largest builder by market value, is active in around 20 countries across the continent.

Nigeria, now Africa’s largest economy, is an example of the trend, Upton said. Where previously, much of Group Five’s Nigerian work was focused on power generation, the company is now doing projects in housing, shopping centres and toll roads.

The widening economic activity is part and parcel of Africa’s growing consumer spending and swelling population.

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