Multidisciplinary consultant Atkins has earmarked South Africa as an area for growth after winning heritage work in the country
Atkins is working with Oxford council, Oxford Brookes University and not-for-profit company Borien Educational Foundation for Southern Africa, to preserve and restore about 40 sites in the country. The long-term aim is to encourage South Africa’s tourist industry.
Mike Borien, chief executive of BEFSA, appointed Atkins after working alongside the company for 11 years in his previous job at Oxford council.
The heritage sites include Fort Hare University, which was attended by Nelson Mandela and was the only university to accept black students under the apartheid regime. It also contains Mandela’s secondary school, and British forts that date back to the 19th century.
Borien said this week that he planned to approach the UK government to transform the project into a public–private partnership vehicle.
It is an opportunity to support the country, and there are possible business opportunities to come about from it
Mike Salter, Atkins director
At a time when the Making Poverty History campaign is high on the political agenda, the aim of the project is to transport industry skills to the Nkonkobe area of the Eastern Cape Province, where 82% of the population are unemployed and reliant on subsistence farming.
Atkins will provide a design and consultancy service from its UK office, but local contractors will be used to deliver the projects. Atkins director Mike Salter, who is heading the project for the company, said: “We see it as an opportunity to support the country, and there are possible business opportunities to come from it, including work linked to the 2010 World Cup, which is to be hosted by South Africa.”
If Atkins generates sufficient work, it is expected to open an office in Cape Town.