FRANKI AFRICA – global strength and local focus

Dulce Simoes Lateral Support, News, Piling, Soil Improvement, Uncategorised


Franki Africa recently  celebrated 70 years of continuous operations in Africa. As Managing Director Errol Braithwaite says: “This is a testimony not only to a company which has become synonymous with geotechnical expertise in Africa, but also to the many partners and customers who have entrusted their projects to us.”

Franki’s success is based on a genuine desire to positively partner with its customers in implementing cost-effective and technically sound solutions encompassing deep foundations, ground improvement, earth retention, marine construction and trenchless technology.


“Technical leadership has always been a hallmark of our business culture and so in 2013, Franki was delighted to join the stable of the Keller Group plc, the world’s largest independent geotechnical contractors” says Braithwaite. “Through this new partner Franki is pleased to yet again bring new techniques to the African market, backed up by some of the world’s leading engineers and scientists.”


Franki’s highly acclaimed geotechnical text book, the ‘Franki Blue Book’ – A Guide to Practical Geotechnical Engineering in Africa, was first published in 1976 and will see a fully revised 5th edition published in 2018.

“Keller’s global strength and expertise enable us to bring the best possible geotechnical solutions, products and equipment to every project; while our local focus furnishes us with in-depth knowledge of local markets and ground conditions,” says Braithwaite.

Joining Keller greatly enhanced Franki’s product offering and equipment base. “In addition to our traditional piling, earth retention and ground improvement products, Franki now also offers technologies that include, for example, rigid inclusions, stone columns and vibro-compaction.  Moreover, we have access to new, state-of-the-art equipment which is backed by expert design capabilities,” he says.

Fifth edition of the Blue Book

The fifth edition of Franki’s famous “Blue Book” is currently being drafted and publication is scheduled for the end of 2018, thus maintaining a 50-year tradition of updating it every ten years.

The latest edition will maintain the style of its forerunners but will include Keller’s advanced soil improvement, grouting and instrumentation technologies and, of course, some “yellow”, reflecting Franki’s new branding after their acquisition by the Keller Group.

The foreword will be written by Dr Peter Day, one of Africa’s most prominent Geotechnical Engineers who recently became the first African to deliver the Terzaghi Oration to the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

The contents of the ‘Blue Book’ have been extensively updated by Gavin Byrne, recently retired head of Franki’s in-house engineering group and its current head, Dr Nicol Chang. The first half of the 5th Edition will provide an overview of common geotechnical products and techniques, while the second half will provide application and design guidance.  “This edition will have some completely new sections, including Keller Ground Improvement and Grouting Technologies, Pipe Jacking and Trenchless Technologies as well as a full section on Limit State Design,” Chang says.

History of the Blue Book

The first Franki Book was published in 1976 and was authored by Ian Braatvedt, the then Managing Director, with a foreword by the legendary Prof. J.E. Jennings.  The first Edition was entitled “Frankipile: Guide to Piling and Foundation Systems” and covered mainly the design and construction of deep foundation systems.

The subsequent three editions mirrored the technical advancement of Franki’s Africa operation in ten-yearly intervals until the current fourth edition, which covers most areas of Geotechnical Engineering including the design and construction of Piled Foundations, Ground Improvement, Lateral Support and Marine Foundation Engineering.  The sections on Geotechnical Investigation, Soil Characterisation and Properties, Geotechnical Design and Geotechnical Equipment and Techniques reflect advances in Geotechnical Engineering design and construction over the last 40 years.

“These sections, and now the fifth edition in its entirety, also reflect the advancement of Franki from a relatively small, predominantly piling company in Southern Africa to the leading Geotechnical contracting company in the African region,” Byrne says.


Franki Africa has permanent offices in South Africa, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Ghana and Angola. They are, however, active throughout sub-Saharan Africa and, through colleagues in the greater Keller group, able to service the entire continent.

Franki’s work is characterised by an unrelenting commitment to implement best practice in quality, health and safety and environmental standards. It is the only geotechnical contractor in Africa to be ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 accredited.

Article published in the SAICE Civil Engineering Magazine – April 2018

Installation of Sheet Piles for a project in Sanzule, Ghana

Piling at Pinnacle Towers in Nairobi, Kenya

Franki Africa’s new rigs, purchased for the Clairwood Project