Interview with Mr Michael Nyirenda President of the Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors (ABCEC)

Guest 1

Mr Michael Nyirenda is a graduate from UNZA (University of Zambia) with a BScin Building and  MScin Project Management obtained from Cavendish University in Zambia.

He is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and the CEO of SolatechLtd.

Mr Nyirenda is the current president of the Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors (ABCEC). Constrution Review interviewed him recently recgarding the role of ABCEC in Zambia.

CR Could you please state the core values, objectives,functions, and activities of the Association of Building & Civil Engineering Contractors (ABCEC)?

A The core values of ABCEC are

Networking-ABCEC provides a unique opportunity for contractors to connect with various stakeholders in the Industry.

Dialogue-ABCEC is a respected voice of Contractors in the Industry .This status/position in the industry helps us to have meaningful dialogue with various stakeholders in the industry for the benefit of our members.

Innovation-In the ever changing environment, ABCEC identifies trends/needs that help provide our members with competitive advantage/better working environment.

The objectives, functions and activities of ABCEC are

To generally watch over, promote and protect the interests of members;

To promote excellence in work, just and honourable/good practice in the conduct of business, and to eradicate malpractices;

To regulate relations between members and their employees or trade unions;

To encourage the settlement of disputes by conciliatory methods;

To promote and support progressive legislation relating to the Association business or having a bearing on the activities of the Association;

To advise members on matters affecting the relationship between themselves and their employees or trade unions;

To co-operate with any other organisations which may be established to deal with matters which affect members;

To acquire either by purchase, lease or otherwise any movable or immovable property, or also to sell, let, mortgage or otherwise deal with and dispose of movable or immovable property or other assets belonging to the Association or use such property for such other purpose as the members may approve;

To borrow, invest, lend, subscribe or donate money for the furtherance of the objects of the Association;

To use every legitimate means to encourage all persons who are eligible for membership to become members;

To affiliate with or join any federation, or to otherwise co-operate with any similar association or federation;

To promote and uphold the status of the Construction Industry in general;

To foster and encourage the training of persons for the Construction Industry and its Allied Trades, and the general educational advancement of persons engaged in the Industry and;

To do such other lawful things as may appear to be in the interests of the Association or its members and which are not inconsistent with the objects or any matter specifically provided for in the Constitution.


CR What is the Associations mandate?

A The Associations mandate is to represent its members and be the voice of the contractors in the Industry. ABCEC is presently a member of both ZACCI (Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and ZFE (Zambia Federation of Employers) and through these two institutions has participated in programs that have been beneficial to our members. The Association also has strategic partnerships with institutions such as Thorn Park Construction School and works closely with institutions like ILO (International Labour Organisation). It is thus meeting its mandate though as for most organisations, this is a continuous process and the Association is striving to do better for its members.

The Association also has Radio Programs, Breakfast meetings, Workshops including this feature which will enable the Association have interaction at a regional level

CR Could you please share with us ABCECs milestones and achievements in the last decade or so?

A ABCECs major achievements since 1970 includes the fact that it has managed to maintain its Status Quo in the ever changing market environment, various players have come into the market since its existence but ABCEC has managed to still maintain its relevance in the industry.

ABCEC is also the only Private body that has managed to maintain a relationship for its members with ZRA (Zambia Revenue Authority) for the Cash Accounting facility that they enjoy.

ABCEC has also continued to attract large and medium scale foreign and local contractors because of the benefits that it offers to its members.

It enjoys growing membership numbers due to increased economic activity with the construction sector posting a growth rate of about 17% per annum in the last 3-4yrs.


CR What is the current state of the construction and building industry in Zambia?

A From the Perspective of construction works, I would say the construction and building industry is growing. Zambia is among Africa’s top 10 fastest growing economies and this indicates that there is a lot of economic activity largely driven by the construction sector which is among the priority sectors for the Government. Therefore the industry is performing well.


CR What are the growth opportunities and challenges facing the Association?

A The  increase in economic activities basically means more infrastructure development for the country which leads to an increase in construction works and contractors thus leading to increased number of members joining the Association.

This also means a lot needs to be done as new technologies, skills and needs arise; this is a growth opportunity for the Association to explore new areas to better the Industry. A lot thus needs to be done.


CR Challenges?

A One of the biggest challenges for the Association is striking a balance between the Public interests/Political Interests and the business industry interests.

We also have a long way to go in terms of advocating and lobbying for the betterment of the construction industry.

CR How does the sub-standard work done by non-member impact on the work of the association?

A A non-member is not bound by the standards/rules of the Association, however, sub-standard works done by a non-member affect the association in that the business interests cut across the board and this affects all contractors including our members. If for example a local contractor does sub-standard work, it is common that generally it will be perceived that local contractors do substandard work thus leading clients to award contracts to the foreign contractor.

CR How do you deal with the issue of sub-standard work?

A As an Association we wouldn’t have power to directly deal with sub-standard work by a non-member. However, we encourage our member’s to provide quality workmanship.

When the cause of the sub-standard work is established ;which could include lack of capacity, finance ,skill etc,, we do intervene as an Association  by for example  issuing a press release, making it a topic of discussion during our radio programs or sometimes  partnering with other key institutions to help tackle the issue( egMoU signed with  Thornpark Construction school to help on the skills aspect)

We also have workshops and breakfast meetings to discuss the issue.

CR What are the benefits for ABCEC members?

A Cash Accounting on VAT, Collective labour bargaining, Conflict Resolution, Occupational Health and Safety, Legal Advice, Local business networking, Proven Advocacy, Industry Insight and Representation on the NCC board


CR Any incentives for non-members to encourage them join the Association?

A Benefits are in themselves incentives e.g; a workshop was held in May this year with FQM/Kansanshi Mines to discuss areas of possible collaboration in their Kipemba housing project with our members, Cash Accounting on VAT which is exclusive to our paid up members.

CR Thank you for taking the time to meet us


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