Set up project management offices to monitor infrastructure development

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Casual workers walk past an affordable housing project at Mukuru in Nairobi on October 3, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

If we are to have a fair and honest chance to emerge from our current state of development as a country, we must centralize the successful delivery of public projects – both at the national and county level.

A nation is defined by its wealth and wealth that comes from its successful infrastructure developments. Former US President John F. Kennedy once said, “America’s roads are good, not because America is rich, but America is rich because America’s roads are good.”

Too much is at stake for Africa in this century, or the next two decades or so. With a planet warming at an unprecedented rate comes complexities with consequences no less significant than apocalypses, nightmarish population growth that brutally increases unabated, and a obscene clamor of urbanization that puts cities on edge.

We cannot afford to continue with the unfortunate waste that we have become oblivious to in carrying out public sector projects. We don’t stand a chance as a country if we continue the lackluster journey of project implementation that we have embarked on. We must break the grip of this outdated paradigm if only for our survival.

Our inability to use our resources effectively is our biggest problem as a country. Much of this stems from the way we deliver public projects. Amidst these complexities and challenges of the 21st century, we drive megaprojects using the techniques of the first industrial revolution of the 1700s, where project management was more the result of a leader’s experience and intuition. project than the application of scientific methods. There can and will be only one result of this method: time and cost overruns.

The global Project Management Institute (PMI) estimates that seven out of 10 projects in Africa are over budget and over time. He further points out that for every billion dollars spent, 13% is wasted. Unbelievable! Suffice it to say that corruption may not be the biggest obstacle to successful projects in Africa – waste is.

The new administration must break this ice if it really wants to move this country forward. They must deliberately touch upon the sacrosanct foundations that previous governments, for various reasons, have denied. We need skills in the execution of projects, if it is an overhaul of ministries or departments, so be it. The lethargy and recklessness with which our public projects are treated must end – no more time and cost overruns.

President Ruto’s government, including governors, must establish central project management offices (PMOs). Serious democracies and organizations are on this pedestal to improve the realization of public projects, and it works miracles.

A foreign survey was conducted among 450 establishments, 303 of which have a project office, which represents 67% of the total sample. He’s a new kid on the infrastructure block. A Project Management Office (PMO) is defined as an entity or department within the organization where everything related to the management of projects and programs is directed to it.

Publicly funded projects are subject to intense media scrutiny, and many programs involve complex, interrelated delivery projects controlled by multiple departments and agencies. In an attempt to address some of these issues, many national and state governments have established Project Management Offices (PMOs): central units that provide oversight, tools and support to delivery teams, help build a skilled workforce and drive intergovernmental reforms. By monitoring project development, providing training, developing policies and deploying specialists, PMOs can play a key role in improving the success rates of government projects.

This is the way to go if we want to successfully deliver projects. While we’re still at it, we need to ensure that PMOs are staffed with competent built environment professionals, at the national and county levels, who have a knack for delivering projects. The most important qualification that every member of the PMO team must have is deep love for this country.

In summary, the two main reasons why governments and organizations implement PMOs are: to increase the success rate of projects and to apply standard qualifications for project management. Of course, there will inevitably be a reduction in costs thanks to good management of resources. Some of us who care deeply about this country, this continent, understand that the keystone of our accelerated growth lies in the success of our projects.

At the moment, we are far away as a country. There are too many delayed, over-budgeted and stalled projects running into the trillions of shillings. How can a country grow in such blatant mediocrity? We need a paradigm shift away from mainstream thinking that has submitted to fate.

Core PMOs will invariably improve government delivery of critical projects without waste. I am aware that we need to make the office agile to avoid it becoming another layer of bureaucracy. The new administration needs to do things differently, it’s not just a way, it’s the only tested way to get things done today amidst the challenges and complexities of the 21st century. Let’s try this.

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