Critical success factors of project management in African power utilities:

Enhancing project management performance



By Dr Lalamani Budeli

South Africa




In recent years, the project management and systems engineering body of knowledge has significantly grown but about a third of projects are still failing. Due to these failures, researchers and project consultant needs to understand the local and international factors of success and failures. In most studies, it is accepted that the project differs immensely concerning novelty, complexity, and technological uncertainty. In Africa, project failure rates are unacceptably high across different industries and for projects of varying size. In most cases, a project’s failure has a major impact on the organization. The goal for all project stakeholders is to complete the project on time, within cost, and achieving the desired quality.  Effective project management practices require a project management system that supports management to achieve its organizational project goals.

Power plant projects are frequently influenced by delay/failure factors that constraint the project to meet its goals or success factors that help project parties reach their goals as planned. The purpose of this article is to identify success and delay factors that can help project stakeholders reach their intended goals with greater efficiency. This was done by identifying these factors and determining the correlation within them to determine influential factors to ensure success or failure.

Keywords: Critical success factor, Project management success, African power utilities


Power generating plants require a large initial investment and significant further expenditure to continue operations over its intended life cycle. This means that the cost requirements for the continuing operations should be determined to sustain the plant output over its intended life cycle. Besides, regular detailed life cycle plans that reflect essential refurbishment and replacement activities of all relevant plant systems, are needed. These plans must reflect modifications, projects, and technological improvements that may be required to address any changes in plant conditions, operations, capacity, and legislative requirements, as well as primary energy supply or operational life span.

The power industry landscape in Africa continuously experiences disruptions mostly due to existing business models, systems, and methods of operation, as well as the blend of players and the electricity subsector. Due to the constraint in which power plants are constructed and operated, it can be expected that there will be differences in efficiency and performance. Real plant design constraints also limit power plant efficiency beyond utilities’ control, which is not necessarily a result of ineffective design or operation. Several factors are perceived to affect the efficiency of power plant projects, but this study focuses on efficiency problems due to design and maintenance which is subdivided into plant design, deterioration, plant maintenance and component availability. It is believed that improving access to power will go a long way towards eliminating poverty and unemployment while providing an opportunity for entrepreneurial spirit. Due to challenges that African countries have in terms of capital borrowing, ensuring that they install generating capacity to meet or exceed its designed capacity, becomes a necessity.

Background of the study

Ramage and Armstrong (2005-14) understood that project failure or project delays are a global phenomenon and Africa is not an exception. Baccarin (1999-63) argues that it is significant to differentiate between project success criteria and project success factors because criteria are used to measure success although factors facilitate the achievement of success. Project management success concentrates on the project management process and in specific on the achievement of the project goals concerning cost, time, scope, and quality. These dimensions designate the degree of the proficiency of project execution, said Pinkerton (2003-334). Developing project management methodologies that consider sustainable project life cycle management effectively addressing social and environmental aspects of sustainable development will position power utilities to better place themselves as an energy source of the future.


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How to cite this paper: Budeli, L. (2021). Critical success factors of project management in African power utilities: Enhancing project management performance. PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue I. January. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/pmwj101-Jan2021-Budeli-PM-critical-success-factors-in-African-power-utilities.pdf



About the Author

Dr Lalamani Budeli

South Africa


Dr Lalamani Budeli obtained his degree in Electrical Engineering at the Vaal University (VUT), BSc honors in Engineering Technology Management at University of Pretoria (UP), Master in engineering development and Management at North West University (NWU), Master of business administration at Regent Business School (RBS) and a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Development and Management at North West University (NWU), Potchefstroom, South Africa. Currently, he is a managing director of BLIT, an engineering, research, and project management company based in South Africa.

His research interests include project portfolio management, agile project management, plant life cycle management, advanced systems analytics, project early warning system, and the use of artificial intelligence in project management. Currently, he is spending most of the time on research that is looking at the development of system and application that uses the latest technology like block chain, internet of things (IoT), Big data, and artificial intelligence. Lalamani Budeli can be contacted at budelil@blit.co.za.