The Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Statue of Liberty in New York City. Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. The Sydney Opera House. The Gateway Arch in St. Lewis. All landmarks that tells us about the history of the world, history made by construction. Frans Pienaar, Chairman of Inyatsi Construction, explains why the New Africa Contract is needed to contribute to the history and heritage of the continent.
Modern construction has contributed to history and heritage by firstly providing access to facilities of heritage. Secondly, it also enables the economy to sustain heritage and honour it as part of our history because without an economy, heritage will fall by the wayside.
Construction of civil engineering projects shows where a country is in its history, such as building projects in South Africa over the past two decades that reflects our young democracy. The bulk of infrastructure spending in the country is reflecting the need and drive of a young democracy, with a new middle class evolving and creating a demand for more development with construction projects following this demand.
Unfortunately the lack of resources has limited the level of innovation that creates a legacy and a heritage. The cost of development determines whether construction will happen, especially in the developing world. This is largely due to a lack of resources that forces authorities to often choose the cheapest solution, although it has a limited lifespan. In addition, there is also resistance by current generations to pay for developing infrastructure for future generations.
However, constructing for the future benefits the economy, such as the underground train systems in the first world which were constructed at huge cost by previous generations, helping its economies to thrive now by having the infrastructure free of current capital cost. This gives current generations the opportunity to grow their economies and build a better future for the next generation.
The construction industry in Southern Africa is largely driven by methods proven over centuries in the western world, but perhaps the time has come for a system more appropriate to Africa. At Inyatsi we believe in the New Africa Contract that is based on relationships.
The traditional first world contract assumes that everything works and that one largely works with known factors. However, in Africa everything is clouded by uncertainty. Especially in the developing world, the first world model is often based on presumptions that are inaccurate or not applicable or even achievable in developing economies. The original contract is often rigid and does not provide for flaws and adaptability without taking into account that circumstances change all the time in developing economies and a more flexible method of dealing with change that can reduce cost and conflict.
Africa is especially relationship driven and currently conflict is resolved in a way that does not embrace our heritage, which often results in strained relationships. As a result, mistrust grows and progress is slowed down sometimes by small players who frustrate processes by purely exploiting opportunities created by mistrust.
In a trust relationship with open and honest dialogue to find solutions and not simply to score points, flexibility grows and it becomes easier to adapt to change. Territorial grandstanding to protect interests at all costs often hurt progress. Therefore the development of the New Africa Contract that is relationship driven and accepts uncertainty as a reality of life, will ensure that all parties enter the relationship with a willingness to adapt and compromise.
If we can accept that no human is perfect and that we all make mistakes, it is a lot easier to have grace, give grace and receive grace. A true spirit of co-operation is based on tolerating imperfections because we are imperfect.
While iconic buildings and structures will impact positively on future generations through construction practice and methods, it has become a fact of modern times that a large portion of design and architecture is unfortunately more focused on functionality than heritage and creating a future heritage. The past few decades has seen very little iconic structures and fewer projects as a percentage of spend that will add to heritage in a timeless manner.
Therefore the proper development of the New Africa Contract can have a lasting effect on future generations through a rebirth of more appropriate construction practise and methods.
Africa is unfortunately losing a large part of its architectural heritage. Structures such as the Notre Dame in Paris were constructed over centuries and at astronomical cost. We do not see anything similar anymore because functionality and cost efficiency has undermined the longevity and future fame of current and recent constructions.