Michael Athow

The Test of Time

Over fifteen years ago, we interviewed Michael Athow of what was Aluminium Façade Engineering Ltd created from ACL, now the AFEL Group, based in Mauritius. At the time, Michael was vocal about the benefits of AAAMSA membership and the advantages this brings when working in Africa. Nothing has changed, in fact, he doubles down on the message by saying that having the backing and guidance of AAAMSA continues to bear real fruit in increasing returns to the bottom line.

Starting out as a manufacturer and installer as an AAAMSA member in year 2000, the company undertook some prestigious projects including the BOM tower curtain wall system for the 24-floor Bank of Mauritius building. Michael was approached by Grinaker-LTA Facades to manufacture and install these unitized curtainwall systems designed by Arup Façade Engineering in South Africa.

Then came the airport terminal building working with international corporate multinationals, such as Louis Berger Group of Florida, USA and Aéroport de Paris International, France.



The successful outcome of these and many other projects in Mauritius and Madagascar, led to Michael expanding into Togo and the Cote D’Ivoire. In fact, Michael is in the process of setting up a factory in Lome, Togo and a second one in Abidjan, Ivory Coast to manufacture and install aluminium openings and curtainwall facades. Michael attributes a large part of his company’s expansion to being able to apply AAAMSA guidelines and principles over our borders and further afield.

Some of his partners and collaborators in Togo have already completed a two-week training course with Wispeco in Johannesburg with further training for Togo and Ivory Coast personnel envisaged for this year. At the moment, he is concentrating on the Francophone countries in Africa but does not draw the line at branching out wider into Africa as time goes by. Being completely at home in English and French, Michael is a big believer in manufacturing using locals who learn to uphold standards and ethics from scratch.

In Togo, the company AFEL Engineering Africa SARL, compiled a technical report on the Lome Data Center, and similarly for a residential complex in Abidjan – Ivory Coast. Both relied on Michael’s expertise as a fenestration consultant to pass muster.


Although AAAMSA does not have formal branches or representation elsewhere in Africa, its influence is felt. According to Michael, the chief benefit is that investors are assured of quality work. They understand that their money is being well-spent. In the absence of clear guidelines in some African countries, AAAMSA standards translate very easily though the continent.

So much so that Michael was approached by the Mauritian Port Authority to provide an independent report on the recently-completed new cruise terminal. In this way and as an independent, they could be sure that the work carried out on this project was undertaken to their satisfaction. This has led to Michael moving away from contracting in Mauritius to international consultancy services within the African continent, using his extensive know-how and technical competence.


Objective feedback

With a strong background in project management, site management and procurement overview, he can be called upon by investors, clients and governments for objective oversight and feedback benchmarking against AAAMSA’s documents and standards. As a qualified quantity surveyor, Michael is in the ideal position to recommend repairs and remedies, not only concerning glazed architectural aspects but also broadening out to civils, buildings and infrastructure.

As a born and bred Mauritian, but with ties to South Africa, Michael is heavily optimistic about prospects in Africa, both French and English speaking – he sees many good things coming down the pike for all of us fellow Africans while we bed down as the trusted partners of choice to local and international investors with their eye on our continent.