Solutions-driven infrastructure development group, Bigen Africa, has appointed Henk Bester as Managing Director of its Transport directorate. Bester, formerly managing director of rail at Hatch Consultants, will play a key role in driving the group’s business development goals, which include growing its road, rail and transport logistics capabilities.
“Bigen Africa’s Transport directorate is expected to play a prominent role in helping to unlock economic progress in Africa through the development of transport systems that are critical for bulk cargo transportation and regional integration driven by governments,” says Anton Boshoff, Bigen Africa’s Chief Executive Officer. “Road and rail, specifically, are critical to growing economies in Africa, where most bulk commodities are landlocked and remote from ports. On the continent, many of the major consulting companies have relatively small rail groups and depend on a few specialists to catalyse major rail projects.
“The appointment of Henk Bester will ensure that the Transport directorate will continue to maximise its capabilities so that it is fully able to meet the unique and often urgent needs of our different clients throughout the continent.”
Based on his extensive local and international industry experience, proven strategic leadership skills and impressive track record in growing business capacity, Bester has the expertise and qualities needed to meet – and exceed – these expectations. A registered professional civil engineer, he has blazed a career trail of note across South Africa and globally since completing his BEng (Civil) degree at the University of Stellenbosch and joining Spoornet (now Transnet), where, at 24 years of age, he became the youngest district engineer at the time. He soon progressed to national lead and coordinator for all mobile heavy on-track maintenance machines and to senior engineer in the Western Cape district with responsibilities from Cape Town to De Aar. His solid transport grounding includes exposure to the George Koch Track Testing Centre in Jeppestown and the heavy-haul Sishen-Saldanha rail line, the world leader in high axle load on narrow gauge track.
Subsequently joining R&H Railway Consultants in Randburg, Bester progressed to the position of managing director within four years, expanding the company from 15 to 70 employees by the end of 2008. Since 2006, he was involved in Hatch, first as sub-consultant and since 2008 progressing quickly to global director and head of rail.
Having built a rail team globally with a major focus in countries such as Africa, Australia and Brazil, Bester was promoted to managing director of Hatch International and was instrumental in securing the Transnet Manganese Phase 2 project for the Hatch, MottMcDonald and Aurecon JV, for which he was also appointed Project Director.
As a leader in rail, he enjoys global recognition and has been involved in various challenging international projects for clients all over the world, such as Anglo American, Arcellor Mittal, Vale, BHP Billiton and African Rainbow Minerals. He was also instrumental in growing a formidable rail group and business for Hatch outside Canada, which became the biggest privately owned rail consultancy in Africa.
Bester is a fellow member of the South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE), and registered at ECSA as professional engineer (Pr Eng) and as professional construction manager at the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPMP). He served on the SAICE Membership and Railway and Harbour Committees.
Henk joined Bigen Africa on 1 October 2016. The company, established in 1971, now employs over 400 full-time professionals in 17 offices (operational offices, project offices and an office in Mauritius) throughout Africa. Bigen Africa’s proven expertise in engineering and advisory services forms the core of a product offering that proactively seeks the best outcome for client, community and country. Bigen Africa’s mantra of “doing good while doing business” underpins the group’s full value chain of infrastructure development activism to change lives through positive and sustainable infrastructure development in five key sectors namely real estate, energy, water, health and transport. The group’s value proposition is further supported by its partnership strategy to formally integrate the group’s partners within its delivery model and ultimately the capital structure to enhance mutual value creation and incentives for all partners participating in its structure.