Construction Sector in Uganda: An Interview with Lawrence Okumu of Civil Engineering Company Rayna Group

Lawrence Okumu shares his assessment of the construction sector in Uganda and presents Rayna Group of Companies, a civil engineering company based in Kampala. Rayna Group was established in 2010 and has since then undertaken many challenging projects and accumulated skills, know-how and experiences in design and build solutions, project management services, building crafts and related engineering works.

Interview with Lawrence Okumu, Managing Director of Rayna Group of Companies

Lawrence Okumu, Managing Director of Rayna Group of Companies

What is your assessment of the construction sector in Uganda? Is the environment competitive? What are the latest trends?

The construction sector is the fastest growing and most stable sector in Uganda. There are several dynamics which involve finance and personal growth. The sector is very competitive, but through this competition we are bringing in quality and attracting more and more foreign investments. Foreign investors are coming into real estate that is developing over housing accommodations, apartments, and also hotels and tourism sites.

How do you distinguish yourself from the competition?

Our quality and timely delivery of projects keep us competitive. The most important things clients are looking for is how fast they can have a project delivered and how good it will be. They are looking at getting the best out of their investment and the money that they are putting in. We always make sure we are looking out for what is best for the clients in this.

Who are your clients?

We have been working with the government on two levels with both the Ministries and the local government. Another client of ours is the UN Agency doing projects with refugee camps.

What are some of your projects?

We developed low cost buildings which were funded by the UNHCR. They were accommodations for teachers in refugee camps. We have also had the opportunity to do a project with the Ministry of Education developing colleges. Those have been our main projects. Our third client is the Minister of Uganda and we are developing homes for youths.

What is your international reach?

We have been concentrating on Uganda, but we are now expanding. We have just opened in Lusaka, Zambia and Johannesburg, South Africa. We are trying to emulate the same service that we have been doing here and use the same infrastructure. We are still going to be dealing with government as well as non-government organizations.

What are the main challenges that these NGOs and governments are facing when they deal with these contractors and engineering companies that you can solve?

Rayna Group has undertaken many challenging projects and accumulated skills, know-how and experiences in design and build solutions, project management services, building crafts and related engineering works.

The biggest problems that NGOs and governments face with contractors is non-delivery. Some contractors enter the business with high ambitions, but they do not know good financial management. Their finances always knock them down. When they see these bulk payments coming into their accounts, instead of putting money into the project first, they think of enhancing their living. It puts them in the negative. That makes the employer, the government or NGO, disappointed and stalls the project which makes it take longer to finish.

When did you start the company? How long have you been working with the government and NGOs?

We started the company fully incorporated in 2010. We began to work with the government and NGOs right away. We intensified our work with them in 2013.

Are you open to investors?

We are open to equity investments. We want those partners that are able to come and join hands with us in an equity partnership for big projects with the government and private development like hotels and real estate. In Uganda, the market is still virgin and still wanting. If anyone has put money in here, there is definitely a high rate of return because there is still a big need in infrastructure. The challenge in Uganda now is that there are very few people who can afford to come out with an infrastructure development within a very short period and own it. If you have a partner that can come in with equity and go into real estate development for housing, it is very possible that he could easily get buyers that could pay over a period of time.

Are you looking for technological improvements?

We are interested in embracing technology for the development of our business. The more we enter into new technology the more modern we will become. It can push us in several ways. Every day there are new products being developed in the construction sector which we must embrace in order to stay relevant.

What are your current projects?

At the moment, we are handling two projects with the Ministry of Education. They are being given out as gifts to districts. We are also working with the Ministry of Agriculture on vegetable seed oil. We are waiting for more projects that we have applied for.

Project yourself three years into the future, the medium term. What do you want to achieve for the company?

In the next three years, we want to be one of the biggest service providers both in Uganda and outside of Uganda. We aim to achieve that in two ways. The first is to sell out our sellers with the projects that we deliver and secondly, trying to make sure that we reach the big employers and funders in the sector which are the government and the NGOs.


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