Atkins gets foothold in Africa with purchase of East African consultancy

UK-headquartered consultancy Atkins yesterday announced the acquisition of an East African consulting engineer, Howard Humphreys East Africa, saying it would allow the firm to expand in Africa.

Operating in the region since 1931, Howard Humphreys employs 200 people and specialises in infrastructure projects in Kenya and Tanzania.

"This move marks a significant step for Atkins providing a geographic expansion into the Africa market as a locally-based company," the company said in a statement, adding: "We expect the transaction to complete in approximately three months."

Howard Humphreys’ recent projects include new terminals at the international airports in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, geothermal power projects in Kenya, and the design and construction supervision of an 18,000-sq-m office tower in Upperhill, Nairobi.

Paul Shepherd-Smith will lead Atkins’ operations in Africa (Atkins)

The two companies have worked together on a number of projects over the past decade, Atkins said.

Prof Dr Uwe Krueger, Atkins’ chief executive officer, said: "Africa is experiencing major investment in transportation, infrastructure and energy, presenting strong demand for world-class multidisciplinary design and consultancy services. This acquisition provides an excellent platform from which to develop our presence in the region and is in line with our strategy of targeted expansion into new geographies."

Kanwal Syan, managing director of Howard Humphreys, said: "We’re extremely excited to become part of Atkins. The opportunities in East Africa are immense. As part of Atkins, our existing and new clients will have access to the full breadth of the Group’s expertise, so there’s no limit to what we can achieve together."

Paul Shepherd-Smith (pictured) will lead Atkins’ operations in Africa as part of an enlarged Middle East & Africa (ME&A) business. He will report to ME&A regional chief executive officer, Simon Moon.

Atkins said it had been reviewing the Africa market to assess its potential and to identify partners established in growing sectors.

It said the acquisition of Howard Humphreys will give the company "a strong presence on the ground, good local knowledge and the ability to build close relationships with clients based on the reputation of both Howard Humphreys locally and Atkins internationally".

Both Kenya and Tanzania will see growth in large capital infrastructure projects, Atkins said.

Atkins has lacked a base in Africa, although it employs around 18,600 people across the UK, North America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe.

Another UK consultancy, Mott MacDonald, has been winning projects in Africa after it acquired the 800-person South African engineering firm PD Naidoo & Associates in 2013.

Photograph: Paul Shepherd-Smith will lead Atkins’ operations in Africa (Atkins)

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