Local Contractor Expands to East Africa


Established two decades ago, Tekleberhan Ambaye Construction PLC (TACON), has managed to do business overseas and is currently finalizing the construction of the Berbera terminal, tower and a security fence in Somaliland.

According to Seifu Ambaye, chief executive officer (CEO) of TACON, the Berbera terminal project, which is part of the renovation and upgrading of both Hargeisa and Berbera airports, will be handed over to the Somaliland authorities in a few months’ time. It took TACON two years to finalize the construction. Seifu added that the USD five million terminal construction project stands as an eye-opener for TACON envisioning to expand its presence across East Africa.

Currently, the contractor is bidding to have a stake in one of Rwanda’s massive housing projects. The CEO noted that the Rwandan Housing Authority had invited TACON to take part in the bid process though the procedures are still not endorsed. If that works out, TACON is expected to commence with some USD one billion worth projects. However, Seifu regrets that his company prefers to go slow. Locally, TACON works on some projects valued at four billion birr. Two Turkish companies chose TACON for subcontracting the Awash-Dewele railway project specifically to handle sub-base structures.

Two years ago the company launched a strategic plan envisioning to become a noticeable contractor in the region, Seifu said. One of the reasons for TACON to consider becoming one of the players in the construction industry is the immense presence of foreign companies in Ethiopia. Both Chinese and Turkish contractors threaten the very existence of local companies. Giant Chinese companies that can run projects worth USD 15 billion or so per year have become the reality of the day. “It’s a threat for us to accompany the presence of the Chinese who finalize complexes like the Africa Union HQs in just about two years’ time. We cannot think of competing against them; not even be subcontractors for them. We need to change,” Seifu said.

In a related news, the CEO told local journalists that TACON had two quality awards both from local and international agencies. The Ethiopian Quality Award Organization and the Business Initiative Directions (BID) in its 28th session awarded TACON.

TACON was renowned in constructing buildings until recently when it embarked on a quest to acquire a general contractor license, which would seek to be involved in railroads, highways, dams and water supply lines. Two decades ago TACON was founded with a capital of five thousand birr and with five staff members. Currently, it has a registered capital of 120 million birr, it has become a group conglomerate with six sister companies and it employs some 860 permanent and 2,500 temporary employees. The change in the organizational structure gave way to some 25 new members into the ladders of management staff, and five local and foreign advisory personnel have been recruited.

According to the Central Statistics Agency industry survey, the construction sector embraces some 3,600 contractors that contribute a larger sum of share to the economy.