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Delivering at the high-pressure end of African contracts

Home Engineering Electrical Delivering at the high-pressure end of African contracts

USUALLY the last contractor on site, electrical instrumentation and control (EC&I) specialist ENI Electrical puts extra effort into helping clients around Africa meet their scheduled start-ups.

That’s according to General Manager Operations Russell Drake, who said that with decades of experience in mining and industrial projects on the continent, the Zest WEG group company understands the challenges that developers face.

Among its mining projects, it is currently involved in a large copper mine expansion in Zambia.

“Large project implementation is complex and is often made more challenging by the logistical constraints that many African projects face. There are invariably delays at various stages, which places more pressure on the EC&I contractor, who must in many ways ‘complete’ the roll-out.”

Drake said the company works extensively with project houses and directly for mining companies and is a preferred supplier to many of them. A key reason, he added, is the proactive attitude that underlies its depth of technical expertise.

Calvin Fisher, ENI Electrical overhead lines manager, emphasised the importance of on-time completion, combined with reliable electricity supply.

“With the various issues that may delay stages of a project, there is usually growing urgency as the deadline date approaches. This is normally when ENI Electrical enters the project, so we are accustomed to working under some extra pressure. Our dynamic team actively looks for ways to advance the work, especially when the previous phases may not be quite ready for us to begin.”

Fisher said the team often does not have all the site access they need, so it requires some innovation to push the job along.

“We may even collaborate with other contractors if we have spare resources, for example, to help them complete their work so that we can start ours. Our focus is on being part of the solution, and this is an approach that really helps clients meet their deadlines.”

The linking up of electrical infrastructure, connections and equipment is one of the final stages to allow any project to start operating. In this role, ENI Electrical installs a wide range of electrical infrastructure including medium and low voltage cable reticulation, motor control centres, lighting, earthing protection and energy management systems.

Its control and instrumentation work ranges from process instrumentation and plant automation, to custom control stations and fibre or copper networks. The company also designs and installs overhead power lines up to 161 kV and substations.

“Our permanent bases in countries like Zambia and Ghana – with significant in-country investment in technical assets – underpins the efficiency of our work,” Drake said. “We understand our working environment very well, so we can quote accurately and fairly. This is vital to reduce variations during projects, as this can be disruptive to the project and the client.

“We also take pride in developing local capacity in the countries where we are based,” he said. Operating from locally registered entities also ensures legal compliance and maintains a social licence to operate.

ENI Electrical’s local operation in Zambia – established in 2002 – employs 188 local staff including highly skilled technical teams. In Ghana, ongoing investment in assets and skills gives that office the capability to run up to R300-million in contracts at any given time, Drake said.

Fisher said, “Our success in Africa is built on our specialised expertise and experience, but what clients really appreciate is our willingness and ability to ‘take up the slack’ towards the end of their project when time is not on their side. Our close contractor interface and solution-driven approach allow us to do this.”

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