Pentad Quantity Surveyors: Interview with Fred Selolwane By Tlotlo Tsamaase

31 Jan 2017
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Founded in 1997, Pentad Quantity Surveyors partnered internationally with Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB), which is headquartered in Europe affiliated with partner organizations giving connections to the wider RLB global network that stretches out across Eastern, Central and Western Europe including Russia and the Baltic region to become RLB Pentad Quantity Surveyors. Pentad serves as RLB’s “gateway [to] facilitate their reach into Africa, whilst sharing local knowledge with them,” says Fred Selolwane. RLB, therefore, would “provide Pentad with global access to additional knowledge, resources, enhanced systems, and an extended client base.” Their expertise ranges from Quantity Surveying, Project Management, Building Surveying, Construction, Design Management, Cost Management, Contract services, Planning Supervision.

Below is our interview with Managing Director at RLB Pentad Quantity Surveyors Fred Selolwane:

Could you please give a background of yourself and RLB Pentad Quantity Surveyors?

Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) is an independent global consultancy practice with a commitment to delivering high quality outcomes through advice focused on cost, quality and sustainability within property, infrastructure, construction and facilities. In sub-Saharan Africa, the company trades as RLB Pentad, deriving its name from its alliance with formerly Pentad Quantity Surveyors, a registered Quantity Surveying and Construction Cost Consulting Practice that has its head office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

RLB Pentad offers a comprehensive range of complementary cost consultancy, project management and advisory services from conception, through the design and construction and operational performance of facilities to their eventual disposal or reuse. Our clients have rapid access to the latest industry intelligence and innovations, which serve to enhance value and mitigate risk. We provide expert time management of the relationship between value, time and cost from inception to completion of construction projects.

Tracing its roots back to the year 1785, the firm has a long and proud history of offering an extensive range of cost consultancy and advisory services and delivering award-winning landmark projects. For over 225 years, the firm has been at the forefront of innovation as employees embrace global best practice and local know-how to deliver full property solutions for clients across a number of sectors.

With over 3,600 professionals in more than 120 offices across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Oceania, the firm offers clients access to the highest quality expertise supported by a depth of knowledge and experience few firms can rival. The firm is committed to being one of the world’s foremost construction cost consultancies and leading strategic advisors to our clients. To achieve this, our directors engage with the industry to encourage and support its development and strength through exemplary leadership and advocacy. Our innovative business processes, sustainability leadership and overall business success have been rewarded across the globe.

Personally, I found RLB Pentad to be a natural home for me, having previously been at the helm of a rivaling international consultancy firm for 15 years managing some of the most prestigious projects in Botswana and South Africa. My alliance with RLB Pentad gives me yet another opportunity and commitment to deliver high quality services at a local level ensuring our clients benefit from local expertise underpinned by the service approach and track record from our offices throughout the world.

At RLB Pentad, we believe that the inter-regional collaboration that takes place amongst our staff and offices is what continues to drive our success and is the key factor that sets us apart from our competitors. This increased connectivity not only strengthens our team but also allows us to continue to provide our clients with the highest level of service.

Our vision is to be the leading global practice in our markets, independent, innovative and committed to quality service delivery by delivering sustainable competitive advantage to our clients. We aim to lead the way with best practice in sustainability, reducing impacts and increasing value through the passion of our people, calling on our commitment and expertise across the globe.

Our approach is based on a clear understanding of the design process through our experience of working closely with and as part of design teams. We bring good management techniques without stifling the creativity of the team, and tailor our scope to meet the specific needs of a project.

Could you elaborate their move to Botswana and their objectives?

Our strategy is very much focused on adapting to global practice connectivity across the world to support global clients and international projects. The firm is always looking for ways to expand and grow its African footprint. We aim to service clients on the highest international standard with local knowledge and local representation, therefore giving the client the best experience. It was therefore befitting to have a local office in Botswana manned by citizens of Botswana who have significant familiarity of the local market conditions to service our clientele in Botswana.

The firm has previously provided construction cost consultancy services in Botswana, amongst others, Gaborone International Convention Centre, River Walk Mall, Mascom Innovation Centre in Phakalane, as well as the Grand Palm and Metcourt Hotels. These projects were, however, serviced by bringing in international expertise to assist locals. Our objective is to have all such projects in the future to be delivered by Batswana thereby contributing to the human capital development of the country. 

In addition, can you elaborate the significance of their move to Botswana?

The company is 100% citizen owned and the alliance will therefore significantly empower locals financially. The local entity will have access to international experts, body of knowledge and cost data on specialized projects that would otherwise not be available in Botswana. The move to Botswana gives the firm a wider network of clients and an opportunity to service the government of Botswana with good Project and Cost Management techniques that have been developed and tested in-house over more than two centuries.

Can you talk about Botswana’s market?

When listening to leading property market commentators, it would seem that there is currently an over-supply of office space in the country particularly in Gaborone. The supply of office space surpasses the demand largely due to many recent office developments in the CBD that were precipitated by a development covenant in the sale agreements for the plots. We however continue to see more office developments coming up around the capital city, and this might be attributable to the low interest rate and low inflation atmosphere that enables property developers to achieve solid returns on their investment despite low occupancy ratios.

The retail market seems to be performing well with much retail space under construction and also in the pipeline in and around Gaborone despite the not-so-high population of Botswana. There is however some concerns that the market may reach saturation point in the near future.

The residential and industrial markets are reported to be doing well with shortage of low cost and medium cost housing units in and around Gaborone. The city has seen multi-residential developments that target this section of the economy mushrooming over the last couple of years but still demand is said to be outstripping supply.

The hotel and leisure sector has seen many hotel rooms completed in the past year, and some hotel developments currently under construction. This suggests that the sector is doing well as hotel occupancy ratios are reported to be on the increase.

The implementation of the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) by the Government is expected to inject the much needed economic activity in the country. The initiative has good intentions and if successfully implemented, it will revitalize the commercial, retail, industrial as well as the residential sectors of the economy.