SKILLS IN HOUSE

Mozambique 2016 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Carla Borges, Executive Director of Nadhari Opway, on the firm's work in Mozambique and the state of the construction sector.

Carla Borges
BIOGRAPHY
Carla Borges was born in Mozambique but grew up in Portugal. She studied civil engineering at the Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Lisboa, and holds a postgraduate diploma in management from the Universidade Católica Portuguesa. Before joining Opway Moçambique, she held a range of positions in Teixeira Duarte, Edifer, and Elevo. She has been the Executive Director of Nadhari Opway Lda since January 2014, and is one of the few women involved in the construction sector in Mozambique.

Can you give us an introduction to your company's evolution in Mozambique?

Opway Moçambique has been in Mozambique for over 25 years. In 2014 Opway was acquired by Nadhari Lda, a company incorporated under Mozambican law. At the moment we are stable and 100% Mozambican. After this purchase we named the company Nadhari Opway. This change has led to considerable growth, development, and restructuring in the company, something which I have been spearheading for two years now. Our strategy is to grow based on sustainability. More important than turnover, our target is profitability. We have some target projects, such as supporting the country's need to satisfy the demand for housing for the under privileged, infrastructure projects, water supply, sanitation, and road building. Our focus areas are in line with the development of the country. We work with both the government and private sector almost equally. Government projects are usually higher in terms of turnover figures, sometimes even 10 times larger than those of the private sector, so generally we focus on obtaining those contracts.

What are some of Opway's most significant projects in the country?

We participated in the construction consortium of Tete Bridge. We also built the Mocolumba Bridge in Zambezia, as well as the Xai Xai Bridge. In the education sector, we have completed a university school in Gaza, a secondary school in Moamba, and more than 20 rural schools in Niassa. Also, we recently finished the Centro Shopping Tete for Pylos and we expect to participate in the construction of more. In Tete, we finished the Moatize multisport facility for Vale. We are now working on restoring Inharrime Bridge, and in Maputo we are building a 16-floor, 20,000sqm building for the INSS. In terms of infrastructure we have worked on the rehabilitation of the EN221, Lots 1 and 3 of Namacurra/Nampevo and Alto Molócuè/Rio Ligonha, respectively, in Zambezia, and 114km of the EN1 Incoluane/Chicumbane project in Gaza and on urban sewage works in Mocuba in Zambezia.

What is your experience in recruiting, training, and retaining your staff?

Mozambique already has skilled professionals, although the country faces some challenges related to education. As a Mozambican company, it is our duty to offer this support. We believe our company's workforce should be Mozambican and, as a result, provide training to those who want to expand their set of skills, and then offer opportunities to those who are prepared. To perform our contracts outside Maputo we rarely take professionals from here, opting to always try to hire locally instead. One project for this year is to hire interns here at the company and give them an opportunity to work with us. Since I arrived, we have hired six interns and they have all stayed with us. In total we have 160 staff members.

There has been an impressive amount of new buildings springing up around the city in the last year. Do you fear that there is a bubble?

This could happen in Maputo with high-end apartments. We focus on housing for the less privileged, and at that level the risk is smaller. We target mid- and low-level housing projects that have high potential not only in Maputo, but also other provinces as well. A large project for the near future in Maputo is the development of the Katembe district, which is something we would be interested in participating in.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

No other construction company has an African woman in the leading position, which also reflects the nature of Opway and Nadhari Opway's culture, regarding internal and external relations, including leadership, flexibility, delegation, and collective definition of objectives. We are 100% Mozambican, even though we have strong connections with Portugal. We want to help our country to grow. We have all the know-how of an established Portuguese company, combined with local knowledge of the market.