the future Oracle and Africaâ€™s ICT revolution
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his issue celebrates both local African success stories and the increasing number of multinationals embracing the continentâ€™s unique opportunities.
In our lead feature we have software giant Oracle, bringing high-tech solutions like cloud government and Internet-of-Things urban management to cities and countries all over Africa. Another international player 3M discusses moving corporate headquarters into Nairobi, and find out how it modifies its operations to meet the demands of African markets.
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Closer to home, we look at the exciting future of air travel and transport in Africa through the Wonderboom airport.
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PacB is making great strides in industrial generator design while PiA Solar has become a homegrown international industry leader in solar panels.
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Finally, we look at the development and operations of Mentholatum SA, bringing new cosmetics brands to South Africa and beyond.
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Contents Blue sky thinking 6 Cloud computing is increasingly being adopted by the public sector in Africa. explores this interesting trend.
Getting Africa moving 10 speak to a representative of Aviation Festival Africa and Africa Rail on the condition of these two industries.
News round-up 14 News and comment on a variety of African business stories.
Small airports like Wonderboom in South Africa are ideal for the next wave of air travel expansion. investigates.
Much of Africa still has trouble keeping the lights on. interviews the generator manufacturer PacB on what it’s doing to help.
In this edition’s lead feature speak to Oracle South Africa about cloud government and the future of African ICT.
PiA Solar has become one of the world’s largest solar technology developers and manufacturers. Its director of business development reveals the details.
Mentholatum SA operates in a narrow market, but it’s expanding its reach all the time, as reveals.
3M Africa’s general manager and director of East and West Africa speak to about the multinational giant’s progress on the continent.
A look at the success and strategies of an exciting irrigation technology company.
The consumer cloud computing market has taken off in Africa. Increasingly though, international corporations like Microsoft and local groups such as XON are offering services to governments and public bodies in order to help them more effectively deliver their services.
he potential cloud computing offers to African businesses is well known. However, the public sector has been slow to embrace the technology, despite its offering primary and secondary benefits to all levels of society. The main draw of cloud technology for public sector institutions is efficiency. Digitising public service delivery where possible helps make it more accessible and more effective, allowing more efficient logistics and increasing a serviceâ€™s reach.
On One country in particular that is taking this approach is Mauritius. “‘Mauritius have developed very good e-government platforms, and now services to the individual are much improved,” Angela Nganga, corporate affairs lead for east and southern Africa at Microsoft, told . “It’s helped with simple things, like renewing a driving license or getting a passport, which would take 30 days in the past. E-government allows you to do this online using various online platforms developed in-house.” Thanks to poor or limited infrastructure many rural areas are effectively cut off from their central or even regional governments. Cloud computing is a cost-effective means to unify systems, employ the latest administrative tools and programmes and access the considerable processing and storage capacity needed to run a modern government, all without having to invest in expensive infrastructure and hardware. Cloud-enabled systems are also portable and easy to transfer, requiring nothing more than an internet connection. As with many other recent technological developments in Africa this new wave of innovation is building on progress elsewhere, while taking things in a different direction and inventing unique solutions and
approaches on the way. While Western governments use the cloud for e-government to improve their services, African governments are looking to extend their cloud infrastructure’s benefits directly to citizens, meaning that internet and cloud processing capacity will become another government service.
“Cloud computing is a cost-effective means to unify systems, employ the latest administrative tools and programmes and access the considerable processing and storage capacity needed to run a modern government, all without having to invest in expensive infrastructure and hardware.
Elsewhere, private sector cloud providers developed ahead of state-level interests, resulting in competition, counterlobbying and fragmented data environments. In Africa, on the other hand, public sector cloud infrastructure projects are starting from a blank slate, and have room to grow.
Silver linings for everyone
The benefits of cloud service provision on a national scale are numerous. Firstly, it provides an incentive for governments to extend internet and mobile data coverage across as much of their territories as possible. After all, if no-one can get online, the cloud isn’t benefitting anybody. With this infrastructure development comes a host of secondary incentives. Upgrades to the local power grid, communications infrastructure, road and transport and education are all essential to allow citizens to make use of the new digitised government services. In turn, this investment will pay for itself many times over,
both in direct income and in improving governmental efficiency. Secondly, it helps reduce the cost of implementation, especially if international or local cloud providers are brought on board to assist with construction and operations. Various governments are currently experimenting with public/private partnerships and various forms of outsourcing to help mitigate potentially high initial costs. Depending on how cloud systems are implemented, they can also encourage international
by malicious individuals or political and military entities. This is particularly true for the burgeoning cloud infrastructure of companies and governments. By its nature, e-government will attract more potent and sophisticated scammers, higher volumes of malicious intrusions from private individuals and potentially even attacks by hostile governments or government agencies. While denial of service attacks that cut off e-government services for days or weeks at a time can be disastrous, the real problems begin with less direct assaults that steal or citizens’ personal data, whether by fraudulently accessing the cloud-based systems or by phishing and scamming users outside them.
“In turn, this investment will pay for itself many times over, both in normal infrastructure benefits and in improving governmental efficiency. commerce and communication, or assist with data security and governance by keeping data in-country rather than relying on external suppliers.
Securing the future
One of the major problems standing in the way of public sector cloud adoption is an obvious one: security. It’s a given that anything connected to the internet can be hacked, either
According to Nganga, the responsibility for maintaining security in cloud systems lays both with the provider and in the end-users: “I think for us when we look at security it goes without saying
that it is standard. When we design our products, the considerations that are made are made regardless of whether the institution is public or the institution is private,” she says. “To achieve a higher level of security, the government itself needs to implement its own security standards and provide its own security to some extent.” With Microsoft and many other retailers aiming to provide a consistent standard of security across all their cloud systems education of both government employees and civilian users will be essential. Public sector cloud computing offers immense potential to countries across Africa, streamlining digitised government and creating new infrastructure incentives. It’s a logical extension of the boom in mobile internet that swept the country in the first half of the 2010s. The obstacles in its way are limited, the field is open to governments across the continent and citizens will soon start to see it impact their lives.
Although both industries are developing rapidly, itâ€™s hardly been a smooth process in the past. What challenges are African aviation and rail transport currently facing?
African carriers face stiff competition from the international rivals controlling around 88% of African airspace. The biggest challenge at present is funding and investment for airlines in order for them to increase operational efficiency and
improve passenger experience â€“ things like fi nding the money to install Wi-Fi connectivity and especially upgrading their fl eets of aircraft. In terms of railway travel, Africaâ€™s railways are in need of multiple upgrades, with railway lines that have become too old to operate, cape gauge railways which need to be upgraded to more standard gauges, and outdated signalling systems. The biggest challenge at the moment is the lack of investment in outdated infrastructure, as well as the lack of supporting institutional framework.
The biggest challenge at the moment is the lack of investment in outdated infrastructure, as well as the lack of supporting institutional framework
Every year, the global events company Terapinn runs the Aviation Festival Africa and Africa Rail, events designed to bring operators, end-users and governments together to discuss the future of the continentâ€™s rail and air transport networks. spoke to Tarryn Theunissen, project director and business development manager for Terapinn, about the current status of these vital industries.
the completion of the $3.8-billion 472km SGR line from the coastal city of Mombasa to Nairobi. Following this the TanzaniaRwanda rail expansion is also set to improve East African rail links, the new contract relates to the 300km section of line between Dar and Morogoro. Also with the investment into new railway lines comes the need to invest in new rolling stock, which is an opportunity for heavy industrial manufacturers.
Where would you say are the activity/ investment hotspots at the moment?
As the aviation industry grows so do the opportunities for African carriers to make gains. Some of the big opportunities are for start-up carriers. With the increase in traffic, airlines have an opportunity to gain more ground with increased flights within Africa and globally.
Africa Rail and the Aviation Festival Africa both release eBooks with some of the more interesting projects underway, they can be found on our website. There are dozens of hotspots all over the continent, particularly in East Africa, where the massive upgrades to rail infrastructure are taking place, but also in Nigeria, where they are modernising the Lagos-Ibadan double track railway among others, and South Africa, which is running several large projects including the Gautrain expansion and the Metrorail upgrades.
In terms of rail, several countries in East Africa are currently investing millions into their infrastructure. Kenya is gearing up for a new era in railway transportation with
In aviation terms, the Aerotropolis project is one of the flagship projects of the City of Ekurhuleni, which is poised to become the first Aerotropolis in Africa. Airports
Have there been any recent major opportunities in these industries?
Company South Africa believes that focused applications of the aerotropolis concept in South Africa will attract business and make domestic airports a preferable link in the value chain. Facilities like cargo storage and multi-model transportations at domestic airports will provide value in line with global value chain trends.
Intermodality has become fundamental to the freight and logistics sector in Africa In aviation similarly our eBook contains projects all over Africa, with East Africa once again seeing multiple projects underway in Tanzania and Somalia, not to mention huge investment in Ghana, Morocco and South Africa.
In terms of intermodality, how have improved IT and scheduling systems enabled different industries to work together?
Intermodality has become fundamental to the freight and logistics sector in Africa. By utilising the skills and expertise of international freight forwarders, transport operators and equipment, the African market has adapted the processes not only saving time, but saving money as well.
It is an unrivalled platform for the continent’s railways industry to come together to learn, to network and to do business New technologies include full real time monitoring of shipments via air, sea and land. Integration of systems to include correct and real time documentation on all modes of transport. Adapting equipment to increase versatility such as road to rail equipment. Real time online systems at border posts to alleviate any unlawful activities and ensure smooth passage without delay. Barcoded smart seals are being used more and more to ensure the cargo is correct and secure. Intermodality has improved tremendously over the past 5 years especially as new and improved systems and technologies are being developed. Monitoring and real time movement is at the heart of intermodality especially when cargo in imported or exported. Previously, using several modes of transportation was risky, now it is the norm. Within the trucking sector, selfdrive trucks are being tested in several countries in the world and, if viable, will mean alleviating trucking accidents, deaths and loss of cargo. In rail, signalling and telecommunications have significantly improved with sensor technology identifying damage
to track line, predicting life span of vital components and initiating warning signals if readings are not correct.
learn from industry innovators in the conference, network with potential clients and gain brand exposure to the African market.
In the shipping industry, ships are getting larger which allows for more cargo, meaning better lead times. Ports are constantly upgrading with capacity and monitoring systems to ensure ships arrive at the right time and all paper work is in order.
What about Africa Rail – how did it get started, and what is the overall aim of the event?
By improving each element of transport and integrating all processes, intermodality in the future will be effortless and a completely normal part of transporting freight and people.
Tell us about the Aviation Festival Africa, how did it come to be and what is it trying to achieve as a whole?
Aviation Festival Africa is now in its 8th annual year. The event is a unique experience designed to assist all airline operators, authorities, government, investors and their partners to take advantage of the opportunities in Africa. Over the two days, you will be exposed to the latest opportunities, trends, innovations and projects taking place across the African aviation industry. The event as a whole is one technical seminar and one conference, along with two full days of learning and networking. Clients have an opportunity to
Africa Rail now enters its 20th successful year, hosting over 28 African countries, 200 global speakers and the best suppliers from across the globe.
From humble beginnings as a small conference with a handful of exhibition stands, it now takes up two massive halls at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. It is an unrivalled platform for the continent’s railways industry to come together to learn, to network and to do business. Deals worth billions of dollars of business have either been initiated, concluded or influenced at this show. And it continues to provide the meeting place for buyers, sellers and their partners to do the deals that drive Africa’s railway sector. Africa Rail is the once-a-year opportunity to meet and do business with new and existing customers. It provides them with access into African railway markets that are traditionally difficult to penetrate. And most importantly, the show allows them to meet real buyers.
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FOOD AND outh Africa reported expectations AGRICULTURE that its maize crop will be the largest for forty years, with good rainfall in January and February boosting growth levels. Government figures suggest a 50% surplus of the staple, but rising food prices and food insecurity remain an issue across the country.
However, elsewhere in Africa maize remains scarce. Many Africans have switched from the maize-based ugali, sadza or nshima to chapatis, which are easier to make and use wheat. Efforts in Kenya to reduce maize prices have met criticism, and although they have been partially successful drought remains a problem across the Horn of Africa and unrest is not far behind. The droughts are threatening agriculture across a wide area, including South Africa’s Western Cape region which recently declared a disaster status, and even pose a risk to hydropower investments as dams are left without sufficient water supply.
he Internet Society and the African Union Commission unveiled a new set of Internet Infrastructure Security guidelines at the African Internet Summit in Nairobi on the 30th of May. The guides were intended to help Africa create a more secure internet infrastructure, paving the way for advances in cloud government and cyber security in the African Union states.
Africa’s booming mobile internet market remains a draw for major international mobile phone companies. While only around 27% of Africans use the internet, by 2020 it’s estimated that there will be more than 720 million users online, up to half of them using mobile. Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa account for the majority of these users, with social media a major driver. Censorship and political shutdowns of the Internet According to the cybersecurity leader remain an issue in many African countries. Symantec, Africa experienced more than 24 Ethiopia has recently shut down the statemillion malware attacks in 2016. owned internet provider’s coverage to protect TECHNOLOGY Meanwhile, the continent is set for a the integrity of its exams, while Uganda and nostalgic release of the Nokia 3310, the Cameroon have seen large blockages around relaunch of the legendarily rugged cell elections and political strife. phone, which is coming to South Africa from These actions contravene the United HMD Global. Nations, which recently declared Internet access The phones, which share the previous incarnation’s a human right, and cause chaos among the reliability, have expanded features but may struggle to increasingly internet-connected businesses in the countries affected. compete against fully fledged smartphones.
enya has launched its biggest infrastructure project since independence with the opening of the Madaraka Express between Nairobi and Mombasa.
Built with a loan from a Chinese bank, the railway will take four and a half hours to make the trip and provide access to destinations including Tsavo East/West, Chyulu and Amboseli. TRANSPORT Meanwhile, the Lake Victoria transport system gained an unexpected boost when Rwanda opted to pull out of the Kenyan Standard railway gauge in favour of Tanzania’s Central Corridor. The project around Lake Victoria includes massive upgrades to port infrastructure and multiple road and rail routes. In South Africa, the embattled President Zuma rolled out his country’s new Metrorail system, or “The People’s Trains”. Metrorail will cost $4 billion and take 20 years, but is a necessary fix to South Africa’s aging and unreliable fleet. South Africa has also elected to adopt a Road Freight strategy, aiming to let South Africa achieve the best possible operational standards of roadfreight operations through an integrated regulatory and operational framework. In The Gambia, Fly Mid Africa has obtained permission to begin flying to Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast in an attempt to connect various west African hubs. Already operating between Banjul, Dakar, Senegal, Accra, Lagos and Freetown, the airline is expanding its network and its reliable, efficient transport services across West Africa.
F I N A N he European Union has given Tanzania more than $200 million to develop its energy sector through the German Development Bank and the French Agency for development. The project will fund electrification efforts in northwestern Tanzania, covering the Kagera, Geita and Kigoma regions.
The money is an advance on an eventually full investment of $696 million by 2020 to help increase the country’s low electricity coverage. Elsewhere, China’s Belt and Road initiative continues to develop, with Chinese investors underwriting billions of dollars worth of infrastructure investment along the old Silk Road to link it to Europe, Africa and Asia. East Africa will see investment in port and transport infrastructure on the sea route, with Kenya and Ethiopia set to become key players. China seems favourable towards homegrown African development, although there are concerns that the security environment in some parts of the continent may preclude infrastructure development.
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Oracle SA w w w . o r a c l e . c o m / z a
Seeing the future
R Oracle Corporation is a multinational computing giant. In 2015, it was the second largest software developer in the world by revenue, behind Microsoft. As with many tech multinationals, Oracle has recently moved into smart industry and the Internet of Things (IoT), technologies finding plenty of takers among African industrial sectors. The company is also a major player in the cloud application and platform service sector, which is revolutionising the African business world.
ecently, Oracle South Africa appointed a new country manager, Kholiwe Makhohliso, to oversee operations at the company. Oracle’s African branch is a key player in the continent’s burgeoning cloud internet scene, developing and deploying new applications of cloud technology in both the public and private sectors. The firm’s focus at present is helping African clients embrace the future, fostering innovation and development through cloud computing, industrial IoT and data-driven analysis.
interconnectivity, full automation and data exchange. Born out of a German think-tank in 2011, Industry 4.0 proposes a future industrial model that works smarter, not harder. Its core tenets are interoperability between machines, systems and factories, information transparency that allows the creation of a virtual copy of the physical machinery, advanced support systems that help operators solve problems and enhance operations and decentralised decision-making that lets autonomous systems make decisions on their own. It promises improved productivity and vast savings in efficiency.
A thought leader
Oracle is well-known for its indepth research and analysis programme which tracks and studies underlying trends and developments in the tech, business and industrial sectors worldwide. It is one of the major players involved in the emerging “Industry 4.0” concept, the idea that industrial development is on the verge of a revolution not seen since the mass industrialisation of Europe in the late 1700s, the development of production lines and mass production in the early 1900s and the automation of industry in the 1990s. Industry 4.0 is the idea that logistical and industrial businesses and networks can be upgraded significantly with smart applications of sensors,
“Oracle’s African branch is a key player in the continent’s burgeoning cloud internet scene, developing and deploying new applications of cloud technology in both the public and private sectors
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Leading by example
Oracleâ€™s other major focus is in the fi eld of integrated cloud applications and platform services. Even less developed regions like much of Africa are rapidly moving onto a cloudbased computing format, essentially outsourcing much of the processing power and storage capacity needed to run a business to external storage facilities. Oracle offers an integrated array of applications, databases, servers, storage and cloud technologies to help empower modern businesses by providing them with the fl exibility necessary to stay ahead in the modern commercial environment. The
company provides public and private cloud models, allowing businesses to keep sensitive data on site while outsourcing
â€œOracle is wellknown for its in-depth research and analysis programme which tracks and studies underlying trends and developments in the tech, business and industrial sectors worldwide
less sensitive operations to the best possible server cluster to meet their needs. The applications of cloud technology are extensive and becoming increasingly necessary to meet the needs of evolving markets and new forms of commerce. Mobile, decentralised workforces, increasingly digitally fluent customers, new and unprecedented security challenges and an endless, accelerating stream of new developments and technologies mean that businesses need to be flexible above all else. Oracle can help them do just that, removing or reducing reliance on costly, increasingly rapidly obsolescent hardware.
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software piracy problem by making it more convenient and reliable for businesses to use legitimate versions of their software that allow them full access to features and support. Oracleâ€™s cloud applications have a wide range of uses across both the public and commercial computing environments. One more futuristic application is the Smart City initiative, a variety of programs that can run everything from transport, safety and delivery infrastructure to civil departments and government administration, using greater access to data and more importantly analytics at all levels to maximise the efficiency of urban service delivery.
Implications in Africa
Africa presents a unique cloud computing environment when compared to the more developed Western and Asian markets that fi rst began to adopt it wholesale. In many cases the adoption of the cloud has been top-down, with several African governments moving to cloud-based
governance systems for many of the more portable aspects of their administration. Cloud governance offers attractive efficiency improvements, and incentivises development of internet infrastructure, opening the way for commercial cloud computing. It also helps with Africaâ€™s endemic
â€œOracle offers an integrated array of applications, databases, servers, storage and cloud technologies to help empower modern businesses by providing them with the flexibility necessary to stay ahead in the modern commercial environment
Other programmes like Modern 311 are designed to help bridge the gap between the government and the people, allowing government transactions to be done online via desktop or mobile platforms, providing 24/7 automated support and vastly reducing the need for extensive and costly support staff. Emergent technologies like VR and chatbots look set to reduce the need for human interaction, and as such reduce call times, waiting times, call dropping and cost per support call for companies. Efficiency can be increased further by collating data from previous calls, ensuring that all possible information about a customer is available for human or bot agents to use and act upon.
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O r a c l e
Africa’s online retail sector is growing in leaps and bounds as mobile data internet access explodes across the continent. As Africa’s largest online shopping malls like Jumia and Mall for Africa establish themselves properly, they are in a good position to leverage artificial intelligence for retail. Oracle is one of the thought leaders in the retail AI field, going beyond bots that merely recommend items for shoppers based on their browsing activity and moving on to both intelligent learning to improve customer experience and oneon-one chatbots that revolutionise customer communication.
“Oracle can help businesses become flexible, removing or reducing reliance on costly, increasingly rapidly obsolescent hardware
Oracle’s work with government clients presents a major opportunity for commercial businesses looking to utilise cloud computing in their everyday operations as well. Africa’s relatively low level of development in the business IT field means that there’s room for new and existing businesses to be much more flexible and innovative than more established international competitors. Companies and startups will be less hidebound by conventional wisdom, able to make a fresh start with cloud technology rather than being held back by hybridisation requirements with legacy systems or older hardware-based business and management software. As with other tech areas like mobile
Presence on the continent
data networks, renewable energy and high-tech housing, African companies can reap the benefits of decades of development elsewhere by immediately installing the latest versions of proven and tested cloud technologies.
Oracle has offices and representatives across Africa, with two each in Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa and further presences in Algeria, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Morocco and Mauritius. The company has had a presence in Africa for more than two decades. Recently, the company opened an office in Abuja in Nigeria to expand its footprint to the country and drive cloud
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adoption across Nigeria’s public sector to enhance its local capabilities and service offerings. At the opening of the new office, Cherian Varghese, the company’s Vice President, Technology in Africa, said: “Nigeria’s Public Sector is focused on delivering transparent, efficient and proactive services to its citizens. Our aim will be supporting the
“Oracle’s cloud applications have a wide range of uses across both the public and commercial computing environments
government implement its vision with a modern, secure and cost effective suite of cloud solutions built specifi cally for the public sector.” The Nigerian government is putting a good deal of faith in tech development to help drive it to its goal of being one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020, hoping to drive investment, enhance government revenue and identify new growth areas as easily and reliably as possible. Oracle’s software and solutions already help run multiple government departments in Nigeria including NSITF, Lagos State and Edo State.
Oracle also has an extensive CSR programme, helping to train the next generation of programmers and designers and give back to the communities that have fostered their development. Oracle aims to be responsible to its stakeholders, employees, customers, partners, the environment and society as a whole. In Africa, the company has invested heavily in education and training, working with the Urban Poor Child organisation in Ghana, mentoring teenagers in South Africa and authorising various education centres like Bytes People Solutions to teach their various training courses in Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Western Cape.
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A truly international business
African industrial and particularly commercial companies have been competing with overseas competitors for centuries, and while going multinational and expanding to other countries has been relatively easy and lucrative for many (although corruption and tariffs remain problematic), expanding to other continents has been less so. With its inherent portability, however, cloud computing offers a new expansion potential that allows companies to establish presences anywhere in the world and reduces the logistics necessary to sustain them. With virtual office environments, outsourcing of processing power and storage to centralised facilities and on-demand online access to training and communication resources, multiple business locations can be sustained with a fraction of their former costs. This can even apply to businesses that trade in physical goods. With both government and corporate application of IoT and cloud-driven data analysis to logistical, transport and customs infrastructure, international transport can be made much easier and more efficient. An example of successful application of Oracle’s technologies can be seen in South Africa’s Mr Price Group,
an apparel, homeware and sportswear retailer that has seen rapid growth since implementing the Oracle Commerce solution to support its e-commerce online store. Mr Price’s requirements are wide-ranging and analyticsdriven. Its management and procurement need to know what kinds of items to stock for each season, what will sell well and how much inventory to order, and be able to react to the inevitable unexpected changes in the market that will ensue during the season. As it’s an international business, with stores and franchises across Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia, Mr Price also
“Recently, the company opened an office in Abuja in Nigeria to expand its footprint to the country and drive cloud adoption across Nigeria’s public sector to enhance its local capabilities and service offerings
needs multi-currency support, international shipping and transport and the capacity to communicate with multiple stores across international borders. Oracle Commercial and Oracle Retail Management have met these needs and more across Mr Price’s 1,000 stores, and helped them improve both customer and merchant experience.
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There are a few potential pitfalls on the road to Industry 4.0 and the African cloud revolution. The most notable, of course, is security, both in a personal and financial data sense and in terms of the IoT itself. Cloud government has the potential to attract larger and more sophisticated cyberattacks, or be susceptible to greater disruption as a result of standard hacking if not kept properly updated and secured. The recent WannaCry attack, which hit businesses and indeed governments worldwide including the Russian Interior Ministry, is an example of a flaw in old, outdated hardware leaving a backdoor open a relatively poorly designed ransomware attack. IoT and cloud data connected governments trade vastly increased efficiency for a new dimension of potential risks. Oracle and other cloud providers counter this with security training as an integral part of the package when implementing
“Oracle Commercial and Oracle Retail Management have met these needs and more across Mr Price’s 1,000 stores, and helped them improve both customer and merchant experience new cloud solutions, pointing out that employee, user and operator training is just as important as malware protection. In addition, as a major corporation, Oracle can continue to provide support and security updates for its clients, and help them upgrade to newer versions with security holes patched. There’s also the underlying issue with efficiency and automation’s influence on the unemployment rate, an issue which is particularly pressing in Africa thanks to the continent’s often high unemployment rates. For the foreseeable future, however, Africa’s economies still have a great deal of room to grow, and the potential to create vast
numbers of new jobs. Unlike the Anglo-European economies, which risk making large chunks of their workforces obsolete, Africa is positioned well to ride the wave and continue creating more employment as fast as jobs are lost to automation. Oracle South Africa is one of the companies spearheading an exciting revolution in industry, commerce, communications, business, manufacturing and government across the entire African continent. It remains a thought leader and key partner in many national and commercial upgrade and revitalisation efforts, and looks set to influence the development of Africa for decades to come.
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3M Africa w w w . 3 m . c o . k e
In the Business of
Founded in 1902, 3M, formerly the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is a science-based technology company that expanded from beginnings in the US to become a multinational giant. spoke to Debasish Gupta, 3M AFRICA’S general manager and director of East and West Africa, and Dr Feben Gobena, general manager of government relations, to find out more about the company’s progress on the continent.
n 2015 3M established its African headquarters in Nairobi, having been present in the city since 1978. The company sells a huge variety of products in dozens of different fields, helping fuel the region’s rapid growth. But why was Kenya chosen as a regional base? “3M wanted to increase its presence in Africa and made a strategic decision to invest in Kenya,” says Gupta. “We went from three people to what we have today, about 20 people, expanding and staffing new departments like sales distribution, our supply chain, government affairs and so on.”
“Kenya is the largest economy in the region and it’s got a fairly stable political system,” he continues. “It’s like the Dubai of sub-Saharan Africa. The financial sector is very strong, the banking structure is organised well, and of course it’s a good place to live. The IT infrastructure and the schooling are great, living conditions are very good, it’s easy to travel and work in other areas. All of these reasons made it the number one choice when 3M was expanding into Africa.”
Services and training 3M’s primary business in Africa is selling solutions from seven of its prioritized divisions (3M’s divisions span from healthcare,
A f r i c a
to automotive, to mining, oil and gas) to various markets, but the company also offers support services including technical training to customers. These programmes are designed to build 3M’s brand identity within Africa and promote sales of its products, as is standard procedure for 3M subsidiaries around the world. 3M training staff work with medical, industrial and commercial workers and personnel, ensuring that its products are being used correctly and making sure customers get value for money. “3M has been in business a long time and one of the reasons for that is that we invest in R&D across 46 technology platforms. We are able to share this vast knowledge with our partners because we see ourselves as a partner to our customers. In this scenario we also work with our customers to educate, and try to raise the bar when it comes to professional service, personal safety, road safety, and health care. We provide extensive professional training when it comes to that as well,” Gobena explains.
“3M training staff work with medical, industrial and commercial workers and personnel, ensuring that its products are being used correctly and making sure customers get value for money
Analysing the market
Since becoming established in Africa 3M has had to adapt to the market, with its inevitable differences from the rest of the world as well as those from region to region. “One thing that we’ve noticed is that the East and West African markets are very price-conscious but consumers are also looking for quality,” says Gupta. “If you look at products in the healthcare market, you look at industrial products, you will find a lot come from the UK or Europe, while many are sourced from the US. “There is a difference in the market but structurally East Africa is similar, so if you take our consumer products like Scotchbrite scouring pads, you’ll find them on sale in stores,
Anudha_01.pdf 1 06/04/2017 14:26:11
whether it is in Uganda, Tanzania or Kenya. Where industrial products are concerned, I think there’s a lot more scrutiny of value, but with consumer products it’s more look and feel.” “The other thing that’s different from the rest of the world is that distribution plays a very important part in sub-Saharan Africa. It completes the product ordering and availability cycle. It’s very important to have the product in the market, because there’s no use of our professional services talking about education when we don’t have the product available. Some of these distribution companies in East Africa have become very professional, and they share with us point of sale data. All of this
makes this market a little different from the other regions of the continent.”
While it is a well-established company in a number of countries, 3M is still expanding into sub-Saharan Africa. Gupta explains what the company’s plans are for the near future: “In 2017 I think we will continue our focus on customer intimacy.
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3M products are known for quality and we need to show the customer the value of the product. For this reason, we have a programme called Customer First, which we have deployed for our three primary markets: healthcare, heavy industry and consumer. The second thing is customer engagement through specific training programmes. Then the other thing which we are all focusing on in 2017 is building our reach to distribute our products in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana.” With Africa becoming a key presence on the global science and technology stages, it’s no surprise that companies like 3M are looking to expand their African operations.
3M 3M 3M
Wonderboom w w w . w o n d e r b o o m a i r p o r t . c o . z a
Itâ€™s no secret that Africa is about to see a huge increase in the volume of commercial air traffic arriving at its airports. The continentâ€™s infrastructure is underdeveloped at present, and many smaller airfields are vying to take over the gap in the market. Wonderboom airport in Pretoria is one of these.
W o n d e r b o o m
onderboom Airport began operations in 1937 as the Wonderboom Farm Airstrip, serving as a military training base during the Second World War before returning to civilian control. It was extended in 1965 with the addition of a proper terminal building, and was upgraded in 1993 to the point where its runway could handle aircraft as large as the Boeing 737 and other commercial passenger jets. Ownership passed to The City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality in 2000. Scheduled passenger flights to Cape Town and Durban began in October
2009, with the airport able to cope with 450 departing and 400 incoming passenger per hour. The City of Tshwane has identified the Wonderboom National Airport as one of its most important strategic assets. Tshwane has recently completed a comprehensive development programme of the airport, aimed at maximising its value as an asset to the community. In particular, it was noted that
around 25-30% of the passengers at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg were Pretoria residents, who had to commute across the country to reach an air travel hub.
Taking up demand
The demand is there for a commercial service. Airlinkâ€™s passenger flights have already been popular, to the point where the company has opened a sleek new business lounge at C
â€œThe City of Tshwane has identified the Wonderboom National Airport as one of its most important strategic assets.
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W o n d e r b o o m
Wonderboom. Commercial and business class passengers make up the bulk of those travelling on the Airlink service, which began in August 2016. At present, Wonderboom National Airport is largely used by charter flights, tour operators, aviation accessory stores, pilot and parachute training, aircraft parking and the emergency
â€œIf the international expansion goes ahead, the site could be opened to full commercial status, providing travellers from Pretoria another alternative to OR Tambo.
services. There have also been flight tests of various experimental military and civilian aircraft from the airport. While all of these activities generate revenue, they arenâ€™t true game-changers and they only generate small numbers of specialised employment opportunities. If the international expansion goes ahead, the site could be opened to full commercial status, providing travellers from Pretoria another alternative to OR Tambo.
Various plans have been floated for Wonderboomâ€™s role in the Tshwane metropolitan area, including plans from late 2016 to use it as a logistics hub. Mayor Solly Msimanga was quoted as suggesting that the airport could be upgraded to a full logistics hub to assist in creating job opportunities in the surrounding area, focusing it
on cargo deliveries for planned industrialisation of some areas of the city. In October 2016 the city reopened its campaign to get Wonderboom recognised as an international airport, opening Tshwane up to the international investment markets. The airport will also strengthen diplomatic links in Africa by providing a convenient air transport link for the numerous embassies and trade missions in the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and Pretoria. Once the airport has international status, it will then provide space for a host of secondary businesses and functions, from developing real estate around it into commercial areas to generating revenue via the terminals and resource hubs alongside the runways. Wonderboom already has more than 200 established businesses
“These airports hold the key to expanding Africa’s tourism, business and trade potential by providing international and potentially intercontinental travel links that bypass underdeveloped or non-existent road and rail routes as well as natural and political hazards. on its premises, and it has the potential to expand further. Other nearby developments are also being planned to support growth in the surrounding area, with a planned R10 billion waterfront around the Rainbow Junction shopping centre on the banks of the Apies river. Rainbow Junction will be a 4km long, 140 hectare stretch of waterfront land that will feature offices, retail areas, residential sectors and conferencing properties. The plan is to avoid the traditional urban sprawl that aﬄicts many of South Africa’s central business districts.
Jabulani Mapumulo, Airport Manager
Smaller airports like Wonderboom exist all over the continent, and all hold the potential for considerable expansion. As standards of living rise and businesses become more developed, demand for both passenger and cargo capacity will increase. These airports hold the key to expanding Africa’s tourism, business and trade potential by providing international and potentially intercontinental travel links that bypass underdeveloped or non-existent road and rail routes as well as natural and political hazards.
If the Wonderboom development is successful and the local infrastructure can support a new hub appearing around the airport, the project could serve as a template for the development of other international transit hubs around the continent, opening up new ways into global markets.
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w w w . p a c b p o w e r . c o . z a
Brownouts and blackouts are common across Africa, as inadequate energy systems struggle to supply the continent’s growing power needs. In South Africa, PacB Power Solutions has been steadily carving out its own niche in the generator industry to make up the shortfall.
outh Africa’s energy crisis came to a head in 2015, with perennial energy shortages causing regular inconvenience and impeding the country’s economic growth. South Africa’s energy utility Eskom struggled to cope with the country’s demands for power, with many citizens and businesses becoming familiar with the much-maligned “load shedding” and frequent losses of power as a result.
P a c B
While the government and Eskom declared a detailed plan to bring South Africa’s energy production up to speed, it is likely to take some time to complete. By the South African government’s own admission, its first priority was to stabilise Eskom’s finances to the point where they could begin working on new plants and power-saving measures, delaying full power supply for some time and requiring extensive government intervention. By most estimates, the electricity problem is not likely to be solved before the early 2020s. With Eskom’s finances in order, the government in South Africa has established a war room to tackle their energy shortages, and they are having success against the managed blackouts.
While there were 99 days of scheduled power cuts in 2015, the number of scheduled incidents fell dramatically after August. Efforts to bring new power plants online are underway, with two new coalfired power plants to add 9,500 megawatts of power to the grid under construction while a third plant is being budgeted at R111.1 billion. An effort to expand into nuclear power has also been scheduled, although allegations of corruption have slowed the process and the government has yet to establish how the bill will be paid. Hydropower, gas and diesel generation are also on the cards, along with deals with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo to buy
power from their Grand Inga hydropower plant.
Lighting the darkness
To cover the gap, companies like PacB Power Solutions have begun offering a wide variety of generator and alternative power solutions to African businesses and private customers. Initially established in 2006, PacB’s primary focus is on industrial generators, with units ranging from 10kVA to 25000kVA and covering a wide range of industrial applications. Industrial customers have been severely hampered by the ongoing load-shedding brownouts, with some sources suggesting that South Africa’s industrial growth has been slowed enough to risk major
“By most estimates, the electricity problem is not likely to be solved before the early 2020s. economic concerns and even national stability. Industry requires a constant supply of power. Shortages lead to lost production time, require potentially costly restarts and may even cause losses of product and materials. For many industries, reliable and
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have also become aware of the fact that many smaller businesses can no longer afford to consider purchasing a generator, due to the South African economy, which is unfortunate but the harsh reality.”
“Industrial customers have been severely hampered by the ongoing load-shedding brownouts, with some sources suggesting that South Africa’s industrial growth has been slowed enough to risk major economic concerns and even national stability. immediate backup generator supply is essential, even if the cost of running and maintaining generators is high.
etc. have identified the need for a generator causing the demand for our product to change from smaller units to larger units.
In terms of the demand for PacB’s products, the company’s director Erlo Paul explained in an interview that “in the past there was a slightly higher demand for smaller units but due to a variety of factors more and more office parks, malls, apartment blocks
“While we do still cater to clients who are price sensitive the majority of our clients have become more brand-conscious and would rather purchase and install the well-known brands to avoid having to replace the product in the near future. We
Since the energy crisis began to bite in around 2008, PacB has supplied generators to mining, industrial, commercial, hospital and private clients of all kinds, providing critical replacement power systems to support its clients operations, while also providing a full service including transport, custom generators, rigging, technical advice and maintenance support. One of its flagship products is the No-Break system, a backup system which can bring two generators to full power supply with less than five minutes’ notice, providing a counter to scheduled load-dumping blackouts. The system has provisions installed to monitor grid supply, synchronise the generators with the outside world and monitor the supply levels until they return to normal. It can also respond to shortages that result in an entire cut in power, able to immediately produce a stable power supply and switch back to the grid once it’s back online automatically. The company also provides “island mode”, with generators that can serve as the sole source of power for the entire home or facility, isolated from all other
mains supply. This is useful both for remote locations isolated from the supply and areas where continuous operation is critical and random power shortages can cause unacceptable losses. Generators of this type, fitted with specialist cowlings to reduce noise and pollution, are currently being installed in BP petrol stations across Gauteng thanks to a partnership with PacB.
Powering the future
While PacB has done well in the energy-starved South African economy at present, its true focus is not on simply riding the wave, but in expansion and brand-building. As Mr Paul explained, “we would like to continue expanding and serving the industrial generator market successfully to ensure
that we become a household name in back-up power. Keep your eye on PacB, we’re planning on taking the future by technological storm.” With many African economies shifting straight to the hightech, power-hungry IT and industrial systems that other countries developed over time, the potential for an energy crunch is higher as economic development and therefore demand outpaces state and civil power utility supply. PacB has already run an office in Malawi, one of Africa’s fastestgrowing countries, for several years, and they’ve recently opened a branch in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well, aiming to expand its business internationally.
Even in areas where power crunch isn’t yet a problem, unreliable or underdeveloped power infrastructure means that backup generators like PacB’s are vital for industrial and commercial concerns across Africa.
Follow us: @PacB_Power PacB Power Solutions PacB Power Solutions PacB Power Solutions
w w w . p i a s o l a r . c o m
Sunrise I N
S O U T H
A F R I C A
PiA Solar is an industry leader in the supply and installation of mounting structures for solar utility projects in South Africa and worldwide. spoke to director of business development, Axel Pustet, on the evolution of PiA from a truly South African company to an international operator.
o a layman, PiA Solar’s products look like any other solar installation – endless ranks of tilted blue PV modules, set in rows in the sun or perched on carport roofs. A more experienced eye, however, will note the robust design, contour following and modular systems ensuring the reliability needed for the African continent’s sometimes challenging ground and weather conditions. The keenest eye will note the perfect alignment. The company’s primary products and services accommodating the world market are turnkey installations of its ContouR+ Tracker, which adjusts the angle of the solar panels for maximum efficiency, along with fixed tilt, rooftop and carport solar structure for existing buildings.
P i A
Expanding the business
Starting off with a “small” 75 megawatt project in South Africa in the early 2013s, PiA is now approaching 500 megawatts of installed projects and laid its one millionth solar cell in 2015 in a 90 MWp project in de Aar, South Africa. Although tough, its systems’ main advantages are in their simplicity. “We have a very effective design with needful functionality,” says Pustet, “but people are surprised how simple a system can be – this is why we believe we can compete in the international market very well.”
S o l a r
From its relatively humble 2012 beginnings PiA has grown significantly thanks to its various contracts in Africa, with 50 permanent employees and three locations: a central headquarters in Port Elizabeth, a distribution warehouse and office in Johannesburg and a customer liaison office in Cape Town. When Axel Pustet, Director Business Development, PiA Solar SA
“Starting off with a “small” 75 megawatt project in South Africa in the early 2013s, PiA is now approaching 500 megawatts of installed projects and laid its one millionth solar cell in 2015 in a 90 MWp project in de Aar, South Africa
P i A
working on larger projects the company hires from a proven network of subcontractors and people â€“ up to 450 staff on site in some of its more recent projects. It is also level one Black Economic Empowermentrated, and heavily involved in programmes by the South African government to develop local business and entrepreneurship.
The politics of power
During the 2017 State of the Nation address, president Jacob Zuma committed South Africa and its electricity public utility Eskom to renewable energy as well as coal, gas and nuclear. This move has been welcomed by the solar industry, especially after months of deadlock following Eskomâ€™s refusal to
â€œThanks to advances in the technology, the price of solar modules is only going down. Further to this, the conditions in South Africa are ideal for solar generation in the residential, commercial and large industries and could create huge development potential
S o l a r
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“At present, the company is looking largely at small to medium-scale utility and private solar projects in various countries, with plans to expand internationally taking up much of its attention
This lack of support is the only thing holding back the development of small-scale solar power projects like PiA’s rooftop and carport substructures. Thanks to advances in the technology, the price of solar modules is only going down. Further to this, the conditions in South Africa are ideal for solar generation in the residential, commercial and large industries and could create huge development potential. In terms of development and engineering South Africa is certainly able to compete internationally.
S o l a r
Pustet credits PiA’s rapid growth and success in the industry to the mindset of its management team when it comes to installation. “All our products have been designed for fast, adaptable and safe installation – all of us have come out of the automobile industry and this is the thinking: it’s like an assembly line. Every step has to fit into each other to make it as effective as possible.” For a company focusing on turnkey installation and modular components this approach has helped PiA deliver consistently ahead of schedule.
issue final budget quotes to preferred bidders in Round 4 and the Round 4 extension of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. As a major South African solar provider, PiA is subcontracting and supplying its tracking systems to several of the successful bidders. Nonetheless, Eskom’s lack of interest in renewable energy remains especially frustrating to South African companies like PiA. In particular, Pustet pointed to the lack of regulation to support micro systems, particularly for connecting low voltage systems to Eskom’s grid.
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P i A
PiA is continuing to expand its business elsewhere in the world with a current focus on Africa, aligning itself with the continent’s growing hunger for renewable energy and its own generational capabilities. At present, the company is looking largely at small to medium-scale utility and private solar projects in various countries, with plans to expand internationally taking up much of its attention. PiA’s birth in South Africa coincided with a demand for job creation and economic development in the region, one that it intends to contribute to wherever it operates. “PV Solar is a decentralized concept, even if we are currently working mostly
on utility scale projects. But going abroad we always respect the demand for local development of jobs, skills and the economy in our target markets.” The scope of PiA’s target markets is rapidly expanding, as Pustet explains. “The core markets we’re looking to create business in for 2018 and the years following are in Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Africa will be mostly dominated by micro-grid and smaller systems. However Nigeria, Morocco and Tunisia might become very important for PiA, but there is also a limited amount going on in other African regions, so perhaps in two or three years their importance will grow. Ultimately we can’t rely on one state and its utility, so we have to spread the risk.”
S o l a r
Currently PiA Solar is installing its tracker in Namibia in 2 17MW projects, and is nominated for more than 230MW in the region. Ultimately, in the next two years, PiA is looking to become one of the top 10 solar tracker suppliers, joining Chinese, European and US multinationals. With its innovate attitude and approach and the success it currently enjoys, this certainly seems like an achievable aim.
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Mentholatum w w w . m e n t h o l a t u m . c o . z a
Founded in Buffalo, NY in 1889, Mentholatum is a global health and wellness firm. Since 1988 it has been a subsidiary of the Japanese Rohto Pharmaceutical Company. We spoke to managing director of Mentholatum South Africa Uys Pretorius about the importing and distribution of its product range in Africa.
M e n t h o l a t u m
retorius is a veteran of the industry, having joined Mentholatum SA in 1989 when, as he jokes, “the fax machine had only just been invented!” Jokes aside, a lot has changed with the company in this time, with Mentholatum now enjoying its position as a major supplier and distributor of pharmaceuticals across South Africa and the southern part of the continent.
Pretorius goes on to introduce Mentholatum’s most famous product: “Deep Heat creams are the hero products in our stable, contributing the most to sales and profits. These are all currently imported directly from the UK. Previously these products were manufactured for
“Deep Heat creams are the hero products in our stable, contributing the most to sales and profits
us by Johnson and Johnson in their East London plant. However, manufacturing was moved to East Kilbride in Scotland in 1995 due to the construction of a new and more modern facility. “We also import our Deep Relief range from East Kilbride. We also have local manufacturers like Wrapsa that produce an array of pharmaceutical products for us, including various tablets and cough syrups. Certain Deep Heat products like the sprays, bath
Not only is Wrapsa South Africa’s largest independently owned pharmaceutical contract manufacturer, it is also ISO accredited and operates in line with the Medicine Control Council’s (MCC) subscription to the Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooeprative Scheme (PIC/S). Ultimately, by adhering to the PIC/S guidelines, Wrapsa guarantees the quality, safety and efficacy of all medicines manufactured on site, with current GMP (cGMP) being the backbone of quality assurance in all areas of production. In addition Wrapsa is one of the few contract manufacturers that is home to an approved aerosol facility for medicinal aerosols. Wrapsa has a ISO certification which is in line with the requirements for manufacturing food stuffs. Wrapsa has initiated the process of attaining SANAS 17025:2005 accreditation. Over the last 30 years the Wrapsa organisation has been fulfilling the definitive need in South Africa for reliable local manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, personal care, aerosol, veterinary, beverages and food supplement products. The organisation has grown steadily from modest beginnings to become southern Africa’s largest independently owned and fully accredited bona fide contract manufacturer in the arena, supplying award-winning expert services to some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical giants and most influential product brands. In addition, Wrapsa took an active decision not to compete with its customers, meaning the company has no intention of developing and owning its own products or labels. This makes the organisation unique. At Wrapsa, the group of specialists, who currently oversee the various areas within the business, have a vast range of skills between them. They also endeavour to stay abreast of new trends and technologies, both locally and internationally, through access to factories and working groups worldwide.
M e n t h o l a t u m
found its niche in a very competitive environment. “When Mentholatum just started, we averaged around R6million,” Pretorius says, “but we have gone from strength to strength, currently performing over the R100million mark. Some years we have shown a solid growth of up to 15%, but average around 10% year on year.”
A local focus
tonics and shower gels are also produced locally.”
Although the main focus for Mentholatum SA is South Africa, there has been some expansion into neighbouring states. It distributes to its closer neighbouring states such as Namibia, Swaziland and Malawi. This expansion is being
undertaken alongside its larger UK-based parent company, which also exports to much of the African continent. Mentholatum UK has a long standing relationship with Africa, including distributing to countries like Mauritius, Zambia and Kenya. Mentholatum SA has posted robust growth figures year on year, proving that it has
One of the most important aspects of Mentholatum SA’s business is localisation, both in terms of adapting existing products and in developing new or alternative ones to meet the specific demands of the market, as Pretorius explains: “We have developed a number of products specifically for the South African market. This includes the introduction of Deep Freeze Arnica to complement the range, which goes hand in hand with our Deep Heat brand. We are constantly looking at what the market requirements are and adapt accordingly with formulation upgrades, using new and innovative ingredients, launching new formats, improving current formats and so on. However, the core of our business remains that which we bring in from our overseas companies.” However, regulations remain something of an obstacle when it comes to product
development. Pretorius goes on to describe the conditions in South Africa as “challenging” to the establishment of an R&D department in the area: “The Medicines Control Council (MCC), our medicine control regulator, really struggles to cope with local demands and faces severe challenges on a daily basis. This really hampers progress especially getting new products into the market. Approval of new product development can take up to 3 years to materialize. Our markets demand sophisticated products and it does become a challenge for us to implement suitable formulations to meet these demands. Furthermore, to meet MCC requirements, we need to submit extensive documentation for approval – documentation and information that is not required in many other worldwide countries.”
and distribution businesses like Mentholatum SA are facing considerable pressure. Uys Pretorius, MD
“Transport costs, fuel costs, electricity and water are all getting quite expensive – and these are but a few issues we see having a huge impact on the business, as well as major political and economic challenges,” says Pretorius. “We are in for a bit of a rough ride, but having said that, we have plans in place for the launch of a two new line extensions, both within the skincare category, so there is a lot to look forward to!”
As a result, much of the company’s R&D is instead conducted in Japan and the UK. These countries, says Pretorius, are just as stringent regarding quality but less bureaucratic.
Going forward, Mentholatum SA is planning to continue expanding into its neighbouring markets, including Botswana and some of the southern African countries. However, with the recent economic situations in South Africa, import
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w w w . i r r i t e c h s a . c o . z a
Founded in 1992, Irritech Agencies International (PTY) Ltd. is a specialist irrigation company based in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with business dealings across Southern Africa. The company prides itself on top-quality work utilising state-ofthe-art design and its ability to deliver systems that last.
ounded 25 years ago by Franek Raciborski, Irritech is a company with a strong environmental and business ethos and a commitment to training and retaining skilled staff.
â€œSystem planning, once an occasionally informal process, is now highly complex, using satellite imagery and specialist irrigation design software to plot optimal tracks and positions for irrigation systems
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“Franek has a passion for what he does and through this has mentored and shared his knowledge with the Irritech team. The company’s strongest bond is the feeling of family and home grown roots within the company,” says one of the directors and senior engineers, Paul Anders. “Irritech will be celebrating 25 years this year and as part of the celebration we will be having a 25 day sale,
From left to right: Caitlin Koch (née Raciborski), Franek Raciborski, Andrew Fowler and Luke Fowler.
“Close bonds and family ties are a key element to the success of our business,” says managing director Franek Raciborski. “Both Andrew Fowler (director and general manager) and I foresee our legacy continuing with junior staff, including our children Luke Fowler and Caitlin Koch (née Raciborski).”
“With water in short supply, it’s no longer enough to use traditional irrigation methods or haphazardly built and poorly planned systems. with one item on sale a day through the month of May.” The fi rm was one of the early players in the smart farming boom across Africa in the 2000s, using and providing a variety of technological solutions to design and run its systems. System planning, once an occasionally informal process, is now highly complex, using satellite imagery and specialist irrigation design software to plot
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Based at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ), Sizabantu Piping Systems opened its new R300m PVC-O pipe plant factory in 2016. The factory specialises in the manufacturing and distribution of a comprehensive range of high pressure PVC pipes and drainage solutions using Molecorâ€™s proprietary technology. The factoryâ€™s target markets are the agricultural, civil and industrial sectors locally, as well as in southern Africa and the sub-Saharan region. Plastic pipes come with many inherent advantages in comparison to other traditional materials. These include its non-corrosive properties, which enables a longer lifespan and unlike traditional metallic pipe, no cathodic protection is required. Additional advantages include better hydraulic performance, lower pumping costs, and better surge or water hammer capabilities. Plastic pipe is a tried and tested product, well-suited for Africa and the infrastructure sector. In addition, the demand for potable water in Africa is enormous and its user-friendly products will assist in speeding up the supply of much-needed reticulation systems, particularly in urban centres where the trend points to exponential expansion. This is due to rural communities increasingly migrating to towns and cities in search of better prospects. PVC-O pipes are proving to be a better cost effective alternative option, where large diameter and higher pressure ratings are required for bulk water lines.
PVC PIPING PUMP STATIONS
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optimal tracks and positions for irrigation systems. “Once the system has been planned, Irritech then designs the various fittings, pump stations, booster stations and irrigation barges using
“A major part of the corporate plan for the next five years is to prepare and train a new generation of junior engineers to take over roles currently held by senior personnel. autoCAD, a computer-assisted design software that allows rapid and accurate prototyping and design that’s specific to the client farm’s needs. Many of our system designs use variable speed drives that allow a measure of flexibility and increase the economic and environmental efficiency of the systems.” Alongside flexibility, precision is often also important – Irritech’s Swaziland partner Irriwater uses a GPS-steered tractor for accurate laying of lateral pipes, the driver positioning the vehicle and
Sustainable Intelligent Water Solutions
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then operating nothing but the accelerator and gearshift. The companyâ€™s environmental and efficiency concerns also extend to its own offices, which use a system of rainwater tanks (the water flowing off the roof of its workshops is enough to run the taps and plumbing continuously), while solar power and LED lights reduce electricity use. These measures, along with partnerships with tree-planting groups like
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Greenpop, are estimated to reduce the company’s dependence on municipal electricity by 50% and will save the equivalent of 460,000kg of carbon dioxide and 2.1 million kg of nitrogen dioxide.
A necessary system
Both Irritech’s smart systems and its environmental focus make sense in the broader context of South African agriculture, frequently disrupted by droughts and wrong-footed by the changing climate. Following a particularly severe El Nino and a string of droughts during 2015 and 2016, the market for irrigation systems has boomed as farmers try to find ways to sustain their production levels. With water in short supply, it’s no longer enough to use traditional irrigation methods or haphazardly built and poorly planned systems. Farmers are keenly aware that they need to make the most of every drop of water they receive, especially as South Africa’s reservoirs drop to 30% capacity with insufficient rainfall to refill them. Beyond South Africa, the southern nations of the continent are all struggling with food insecurity. The United Nations has labelled the current droughts as the worst in 35 years, with more than 40 million people at risk of starvation. Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are
all being targeted by the World Food Programme for support. Climate change is also changing the habitats of many animal species, including pests like the armyworm, which has spread south with alarming speed as temperatures rise. Eco-farming, which prioritises reduced emissions and the use of technology to adapt to changing conditions, is now vital, and companies like Irritech are at the forefront of this adaptation.
Irritechâ€™s major capital investment is in its staff and engineers. Large amounts are invested on training of staff at all levels each year, ensuring that the company has an efficient and knowledgeable workforce in place. As the company plans to
expand its operations north as far as the Congo, meeting demand created by the changing climate and years of drought in the region, management are also working to ensure that that expansion is sustainable.
then move back into a more supervisory role, allowing the company to take on more business while creating a strong technical, sales, advertising and logistics team to carry the Irritech name forward.â€?
â€œA major part of the corporate plan for the next five years is to prepare and train a new generation of junior engineers to take over roles currently held by senior personnel who can
With so much at stake when it comes to a successful irrigation infrastructure in Africa, it seems sensible to entrust operations to a company with long-term quality and reliability in mind.
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13-14 June 2017 | Sandton Convention Centre | Johannesburg, South Africa
AFRICAâ€™S LARGEST AND ONLY RAIL EXHIBITION 7500 attendees | 850 VIP buyers | 250 exhibitors