ABCEC a respected voice of contractors in the industry since 1970

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Newton Mthethwa from the Construction Review (CR) speaks toMr. Michael Nyirenda (MN), the current president of the Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors (ABCEC), a body that provides a platform for its members to connect with various stakeholders in the industry, regarding the growth of the association, it’s functions, opportunities, challenges as well as the state of the construction industry in Zambia.

ABCEC offers tremendous networking opportunities as a result of its powerful membership that encompasses many successful and dynamic construction companies. The body is recognised as an effective meeting point amongst contractors, – proving over time to be an invaluable tool for members’ business development.

CR:     What are ABCEC’s core values?

M.N:   Networking-ABCEC provides a unique opportunity for contractors to connect with various stakeholders in the Industry.ABCEC is also 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.

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

CR: What are the objectives, functions and activities?

MN:    To generally watch over, promote and protect the interests of members; to promote excellence in work 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;


In addition, it is 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; 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 are the growth opportunities and challenges facing the Association?

MN.   Growth opportunities include an increase in economic activities which 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 facing the association

MN.   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. What are the benefits for ABCEC MEMBERS?

MN.    These include 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 available for non-members to encourage them join the Association

MN.    Benefits are in themselves incentives e.g., a workshop was held in May this year (2015) with FQM/Kansanshi Mines to discuss areas of possible collaboration in their Kipemba housing project with our members. In addition, a Cash Accounting on VAT which is exclusive to our paid up members.

CR.     ABCECs milestones and achievements 

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

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 built industry in Zambia?

MN.    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.     Is the association meeting its mandate

MN.    The Association’s 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.