ADVENT Construction Limited was the first construction company in the country to be ISO certified. In what other ways would you say ADVENT is a pioneer in the field?
If I am not mistaken, we were the only construction company to be fully enterprise resource planning (ERP) integrated. We have a software system that runs across all fronts of the company, right from the projects to the central stores and logistics. ADVENT Construction Limited was the first company to invest a lot of time and money in doing something like that, which basically means that all our products across the country are linked to the head office, from the ordering system through to project management. In terms of technology we had a budget in 2014 of about $4.5 million, which is for equipment alone. Aside from this, we continue implementing software upgrades and adding to what we are already doing in terms of integration for all of our projects. Unlike most other construction companies, we do work all across the country. We have nationwide coverage to consider. We have software and hardware links, and internet access in isolated parts of Tanzania is a must. That is the major line of investment we consider. As a construction company, technology is key, both in terms of hardware and the equipment being used, but also in terms of software and infrastructure requirements. We make it a point to allocate a significant part of our budget to reinvestment.
What are ADVENT Construction's strategies to cater to the growing demands of Tanzania's emerging energy sector?
We developed the major supply base for Schlumberger in Mtwara. We also performed some work for Shell, and are on the tender list for BG, and basically, for all the major players. Oil and gas is a department within the company that we are trying to nourish. Mozambique is active in that field, and we have already set up a dedicated office there. We have a regional office in Mtwara, and were the first construction company to set up a full-time regional office there, primarily because we are the only construction company in Tanzania that really meets the standards required by the oil and gas industry. As a result, we have been quite successful in getting projects from the industry.
ADVENT Construction Limited established itself in Tanzania 22 years ago. What opportunities in the sector exist today that weren't available at that time?
We work in a wholly different landscape today. Mid-level housing is now in great demand. Oil and gas is also an entirely new sector for the nation. We are working on larger projects than before, and meanwhile, the market is also becoming much more sophisticated. Clients are demanding, as are the consultants, and the engineering technology being used is a lot more sophisticated. Moreover, everything is a lot more in line with what developed countries are doing. We are trying to bring new technology and engineering practices into the country. As a large company with many resources at our disposal, we obviously have an advantage because in being able to access resources from overseas, we can bring in people with the necessary knowledge to get these projects completed.
What is your long-term vision for the company?
We want to replicate what some of the more successful European companies have done, which is to exist for over 100 years, and branch out into all parts of the world. Africa is of course our primary area of expertise, but we'd like to be able to spread out as far as the business will allow us to.