Sunday 3 December 2023

Revitalising South Africa: Project-by-Project

"The phrase: ‘how do you eat an elephant? – bit by bit’, describes how to tackle a massive task. It is no secret that South Africa is facing enormous challenges due to deteriorating infrastructure, intermittent energy supply, local municipal collapse, and inefficient State-Owned-Enterprises (SOEs). Even if there is a genuine desire to improve the existing situation, the public typically considers the magnitude of the challenges to be addressed as overwhelming and, to some extent, out of their control. Although despair is never a good thing, it may be beneficial since it encourages people to look for effective solutions to the challenges” explained Prof Giel Bekker, Associate Professor: Project Management at Graduate School of Technology Management, University of Pretoria.

"In recent years, the word ‘revitalisation' has appeared in the headings of various strategy documents," he remarked. To mention a few, the 'Small Town Revitalisation Programme' by SALGA/COGTA and 'Infrastructure Revitalisation' under the National Infrastructure Plan. However, how noble these strategic intents may be, the actual implementation of the plans and projects falls short.”

Project management is a systematic strategy to developing and implementing a deliverable within the schedule and budget constraints. It focuses resources toward a main goal and converts strategy into action. It requires a unique skill set and managerial strategy that goes beyond conceptual thinking and into real application. Project managers are the ones who make things happen.

Projects can be independent initiatives such as the construction of a road, a substation, or a school. Projects can also be part of a programme in which the projects are interlinked or mutually dependent. A township development, for example, may only be fully functioning if various initiatives collaborate. These diverse projects, which include electricity supply, distribution and connection, water purification, distribution and connection, roads, storm water, streetlights, business premises, schools, medical facilities, policing, and so forth, complement each other. Such a synergistic programme of projects should be strategically scheduled to prevent assets not being utilized when completed, which might lead to dilapidation and vandalism. 

“A collection of projects and programmes can form a portfolio. This portfolio is a collection of all the ‘bits of the elephant’, carefully selected, clustered, sequenced and budgeted in line with the overall strategy. With the scope well defined, the resource capacity requirement can be determined, skilled management and support personnel recruited and seconded to projects or programmes” commented Prof Bekker.

"A portfolio is a collection of projects and programmes. This portfolio includes all of the 'bits of the elephant,' which have been carefully selected, grouped, sequenced, and budgeted in accordance with the overall strategy. Once the scope has been defined, the resource capacity required can be determined, and skilled management and support employees may be recruited and seconded to projects or programmes," Prof Bekker explained.

The project management training provided by Enterprises University of Pretoria covers the complete spectrum of skills levels. From short, introductory courses to one-year advanced programmes, delegates are equipped with the knowledge and skills to initiate, plan and execute projects in various industries. Delegates are encouraged to complete their practical assignments in their work environment, ensuring that the knowledge gained is assimilated and used in the real world.

If you would like more information on a variety of related upcoming courses in Project Management, please contact us.

Enterprises University of Pretoria offers solutions-driven research and training services. If you wish to be provided with more information, please contact +27 (0)12 434 2500 or visit


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