IE Singapore partners Meinhardt Group in firm's push into Africa, Middle East

SINGAPORE - Meinhardt Group - a global engineering, planning and management firm - is working closely with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore as it expands into Africa and the Middle East.

This includes the company's recent acquisition of an African engineering consultancy to gain inroads into East Africa, they said in a joint statement on Wednesday (Feb 8).

In the case of East Africa, Meinhardt acquired Bhundia Associates (BA) in Kenya in late 2016. IE Singapore shared on-ground developments as well as connected the company to key business partners in Kenya, eventually leading to the acquisition. So, by tapping the existing established networks of BA, Meinhardt was able to jump-start its entry into Kenya and East Africa, the statement said.

Despite headwinds in the global economy, internationalisation will continue to drive the growth of companies in the engineering consultancy sector as infrastructure demand remains strong globally, said IE Singapore.

It quoted figures from the United Nations that several African cities are expected to grow by 50 per cent or more by 2030, causing severe stress on the availability of water, transport, housing and power. An additional US$93 billion (S$132 billion) a year will be required to meet the demands of Africa's urbanisation. East Africa is the fastest growing sub-region in Africa, consisting of high growth economies including Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Said Mr Chua Taik Him, IE Singapore deputy CEO: "Engineering services is a specialised business which requires deep knowledge, proven experiences and a sound understanding of markets to be globally competitive. Companies with these conditions are in high demand, and they need to scale quickly into global markets to sustain competitiveness.

"IE Singapore is happy to be able to work closely with one of such companies, Meinhardt, to apply its expertise in water and environment field in the fast-growing East Africa region. This is in line with our charter to help Singapore companies scale internationally to achieve first mover advantage and to advance competitiveness."

Meinhardt, which is headquartered in Singapore, said it will have a total workforce of 450 employees in over 11 offices across the Middle East and Africa, making it one of the largest international and infrastructure consulting firms in the region.

"Being one of the first Singapore engineering companies to acquire and set up its operations in the East and North Africa is a testament to our reputation and capabilities," said Mr Omar Shahzad, its group CEO. "While we stay committed to our core markets in South-east Asia, we would also take advantage of Kenya's established financial system and investor-friendly outlook to scale up our business in this continent, using it as a gateway into Africa."

Meinhardt is also targeting real estate and infrastructure development opportunities in the Middle East and is working with IE Singapore to refine its strategy and broaden its business networks.

Currently, its office in Cairo has a team of 35 technical staff with plans to expand to 100 by 2020. This Cairo office will act as a resource centre for its projects in the Middle East. It recently signed a cooperation agreement with Sharjah's Electricity & Water Authority (Sewa) to modernise the water storage infrastructure in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates.