Bigen Group – Powering Social and Economic Growth by Developing Sustainable Infrastructure
Bigen tells us how they grow their business by helping to develop the communities they work within.
In the year 2019 Bigen helped carry out 302 projects across every major sector in Africa. Their work helped to provide housing and related infrastructure for over 50,000 families, electricity to 300,000 people, opened the door to basic healthcare for 1.2 million people, gave 1.5 million people access to potable water and installed transport infrastructure for 30 communities. In the process, they helped create jobs for over 40,000 individuals.
“Frankly, what we do boils down to ‘Doing good while doing business,’” says Dr Snowy Khoza, CEO of Bigen Group. “Wherever we build a railroad, a dam, a town or human settlement, a hospital or a port across Africa, we follow a strong policy of indigenisation and localisation, with main focus on job creation, poverty alleviation, skills development and empowerment.”
Innovative, solutions-focused infrastructure
The Bigen Group has established a solid reputation as an innovative, solutions-focused infrastructure development Group invested in the future of Africa. The business powers social and economic growth by developing sustainable infrastructure and is an influential contributor to socio-economic development (SED) across Africa. Established as an engineering firm in 1971, it has since evolved into one of Africa’s leading infrastructure development solutions companies responding to the continent’s SED needs with a blend of financial, technical, environmental, development impact and advisory and institutional services in the agricultural, energy, health, real estate, transportation and water sectors.
Bigen’s goal is to improve quality of life, bring about social change and enable local economic development through a range of bespoke services, and creating and sharing the wealth for all its stakeholders. It operates through seven local branch offices in South Africa, and from seven regional offices in Botswana, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania and Namibia, which act as staging posts to provide innovative, solutions-focused infrastructure to 19 countries across Africa, with a strong focus on development impacts.
Proactive Partnership strategy
Bigen follows a pro-active partnership strategy as a driver of earnings and works with like-minded local, regional and global partners to create social and economic benefit and long-term impact from and around the infrastructure they deliver. The Group’s partnership strategy proactively leverages multi-disciplinary capabilities, drives earnings and is integral to the way it conducts its business.
“Our active engagement with European, Scandinavian and Canadian international development firms, as well as local and regional public and private sector partners, continually affirms our position as a partner of choice in Africa,” says Dr Khoza. “We have seen how our business partnerships in many African countries have extensively benefitted all the stakeholders at multiple levels,” Dr Khoza tells us. “The development impact of our infrastructure and engineering projects can be heard in the song of African women drawing water from a tap, from the laughter of successful entrepreneurs, and the rush of traffic along the roads that connect economies and cities. We see it in the smiles on faces of men, women and young people who return home from gainful employment on our projects. We see it on dark nights when energy generation lights up towns and homes and hear it in the gush of water that brings life and wellness to communities. This is the sounds and sights of the impact Bigen has on the continent and this is how we help Africa grow and realise its full potential.”
Creating an Impact
The proof of Bigen’s efforts can be seen in their completed projects, such as the North-South Carrier (NSC) water transfer project in Botswana. This project consists of a 360km strategic water transfer system between the Letsibogo and Dikgatlhong dams, and Gaborone and other areas. It has already affected extensive socio-economic improvements in Gaborone.
The project was conceived by the Government as a way to address the serious water supply challenges faced by the area due to inadequate local resources and robust socio-economic growth since the country gained independence.
Two of the NSC’s three phases have now been completed, already offering a significant enhancement to the economic growth of the region and the quality of life of Botswana’s people, while also averting a major water supply catastrophe in Gaborone.
This wouldn’t have been possible without Bigen’s work during the second phase of the project, which they began work on in 2012. Bigen completed a water transfer strategy that fed on a number of dams which emerged from the first phase of the NSC that was completed in 1999.
The Botswana government relied heavily on Bigen as the employer’s representative to guide the project towards the best possible technical solutions for phase 2 of the NSC. They provided the EPC tender documents and supervised the construction supervision of the NSC-2 transfer system. Bigen successfully resolved a number of challenges in planning, logistics and construction while maintaining the high levels of innovation and problem solving they are known for.
Their work resulted in Bigen being recognised with the annual Best International Project award from the Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) organisation in 2015.
Bigen also played a crucial role in the establishment of the Walvis Bay-to-Kranzberg rail project in Namibia. This project was a critical part of the Namibian government’s work to advance the country’s status to “developed” by 2030 through sustainable development and the construction of effective trade routes. The Walvis Bay-to-Kranzberg railway will serve as the main artery to Walvis Bay port, facilitating cross-border trade an adequate, efficient railway system. The existing railway line is capable of only serving 20% of the maximum theoretical capacity of the line designed to replace it. The improved line will mean an increase in resource, goods and human transport along the trade route.
The project necessitates that the train tracks have an increase in axle loading from the current 16tal (tons per axle loading) to 18.5tal. The tracks will be straightened and widened wherever needed, with the major structures being refurbished and strengthened to support the greater axle loading. The line capacity is going to be increased to accommodate higher load volumes and passenger numbers. To achieve this, Bigen is providing full engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services for the project, which will generate between 30 and 75 professional jobs, 500 to 600 skilled labour positions and 1,900 to 2,000 semi and unskilled jobs. The construction will also create between 2,500 informal jobs, and indirectly create an additional 4,000 to 5,000 jobs.
These projects are evidence of the ways Bigen work to improve people’s lives, and the work doesn’t stop here.
“Our purpose of “doing good while doing business” is ingrained in our corporate culture and has given life to our Vision 2021 strategy of creating development impact for current and future generations to benefit the disadvantaged communities in proximity to the infrastructure we deliver for our clients,” Dr Khoza says. “Bigen is determined to continue championing the inclusivity, indigenisation, cohesion and human dignity that will liberate, inspire and empower those who will help us build a better Africa.”