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Africa|Issue 24

Also in this issue: SARO p22 Sensus p28 AIIM p32 Codan p36 Atlas Aerospace p50

root Tackling Africa’s agricultural sector at the

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P R O D U C T I O N Scott Jameson


Zain Millington

Production Manager

Sam Wright Editor-in-Chief

James Macnamara Deputy Editor

Rob Harding

Staff Writer

Magazine Design and Production:

P R O J E C T S David Taylor

Head of Projects

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Senior Projects Manager

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Project Manager

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Project Manager

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Head of Sales

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Finance Manager



his issue of is a varied one, looking at forwardthinkers in areas as different as sustainable agriculture and aerospace.

Our lead feature looks at agriculture giants Syngenta. We then move onto another agricultural company SARO, IoT pioneers Sensus, one of Africa’s leading Infrastructure Investment Managers AIIM, security stalwarts Codan Radio Communications, and then something slightly different – our first feature on a MENA-based company, the young and dynamic Atlas Aerospace. We hope you enjoy this slightly different issue, and also be sure to look out for more MENA and perhaps even international companies in future editions.


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Contents A head for business


A look at the first one hundred days of the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa.

Disrupting the renewables space


An interview with Dr Kilian Hagemann of G7 Renewable Energies.

News round-up


The latest sector by sector business news from across Africa.





African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) are one of Africa’s largest private equity management firms.

Codan Radio Communications


look at a leading global agricultural company transforming food security in Africa.

explore the advanced but robust technologies of a company at the heart of Africa’s security landscape.





Another forward-thinking agricultural company investing in Africa’s small-scale farmers.

talks to Netafim SA, a global leader in smart-drip and micro-irrigation systems.


Atlas Aerospace


A look at a company connecting providing fascinating water shortage solutions through the Internet of Things (IoT).


A young company with a fresh vision to bring aircraft systems integration to the heart of the UAE’s economy.



head A for business

Under Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s political and economic landscape was immersed in corruption, scandal and mismanagement. Since Zuma’s resignation, a familiar figure has taken the reins. But 100 days in, has Cyril Ramaphosa’s election really signalled a new beginning for Africa’s secondlargest economy?

Original image, which has been modified, courtesy of



ince Cyril Ramaphosa was elected President in just eight minutes on February 15, figures show that the confidence of both business leaders and the general public in the South African government is soaring. The RMB/ BER Business Confidence Index for the first quarter of 2018 showed that business confidence had risen by 11 points to a three-year high of 45. Three months into his presidency, Ramaphosa is still enjoying public approval ratings of nearly 80%. “The widespread rise in the BCI had one common cause: the recent turn for the better in domestic politics,” said the BER. Many believe that Ramaphosa’s three-fold background in activism, politics and business makes him the ideal person to turn South Africa around. “He understands what the business community is about. He understands how to talk because he was a part of it,” said Stephen Koseff, CEO of specialist banking and asset management group Investec. President Ramaphosa first evolved from an influential trade unionist to a political presence under Nelson Mandela, acting as the ANC’s Chief Negotiator during South Africa’s transition to democracy. He continued as Secretary General of the ANC during Mandela’s presidency,

“Many believe that Ramaphosa’s threefold background in activism, politics and business makes him the ideal person to turn South Africa around before leaving politics for business, where he built an estimated fortune of R7.4 billion. He returned to politics under Zuma, serving as Deputy President of the ANC, President of the ANC and Deputy President of South Africa until Zuma’s resignation propelled him into the top job in February.

Economic growth

Despite improved confidence in government, Ramaphosa’s presidency remains an uphill battle against poor economic conditions. The unemployment rate is 26.7% and roughly half the country lives below the poverty line. South Africa needs growth to be above 5% to be meaningful, but this figure under Zuma averaged just 1.8%. At the end of 2016, South Africa’s economy was more or less the same size as it was in 2009, according to the World Bank. With Ramaphosa at the

helm, Goldman Sachs expects the economy to expand 2.4% this year, rising to 2.8% in 2019. In his first State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa placed economic growth as a priority. “We will be initiating measures to set the country on a new path of growth, employment and transformation,” he said. He also announced that a jobs summit would be held within the next few months to address youth unemployment, and provide practical solutions to economic growth and the expansion of infrastructure. On May 23, he reaffirmed his commitment to this summit, but insisted it would not be hasty, but “practical, measurable, effectively monitored and owned by all parties”.

Eskom and other SOEs

Extensive changes are also in the pipeline for South Africa’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the continued failings of which have the potential to cripple the economy. The debt accumulated by Eskom, which provides 90% of the country’s electricity, has climbed to over R300 billion. In January, whilst still Deputy President, Ramaphosa removed controversial executives at Eskom and appointed a new board. Newly-reinstated to the Cabinet as Public Enterprises Minister by Ramaphosa, Pravin Gordhan promised to tackle the financial failings and mismanagement



of SOEs. “Virtually every entity that we are supervising, or are responsible for, is going to have changes as far as the board is concerned,” Gordhan said.

Corruption in South Africa isn’t just limited to industry. A slew of scandals is what finally forced Zuma to resign, and the former “people’s president” is now facing corruption charges.

On March 19, President Ramaphosa suspended Tom Moyane, commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), writing a scathing threepage letter outlining Moyane’s failings. “Developments at the SARS under your leadership have resulted in a deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised‚” wrote Ramaphosa. In his State of the Nation Address, the President also stressed that the government would be taking a hands-on approach to confronting poor leadership at South Africa’s SOEs. “We will intervene decisively to stabilise and revitalise SOEs. The recent action we have taken at Eskom to strengthen governance, root out corruption and restore its financial position is just the beginning.” Eskom has continued to court controversy, including a so far unexplained overspend of R52.2 billion on two of its power stations, but President Ramaphosa has displayed an early commitment to ejecting individuals guilty of financial mismanagement from South Africa’s SOEs.


In his State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa confronted the issue directly: “this is the year in which we will turn the tide on corruption in our public institutions,” he promised. “We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity, that does tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the hard-earned savings of ordinary people.”

“Ramaphosa’s presidency remains an uphill battle against poor economic conditions

Since taking over, Ramaphosa has reshuffled the Cabinet, retaining a minority of Zuma loyalists in lesser roles and bringing back fired ministers such as Nhlanhla Nene. However, critics of Ramaphosa maintain that his position as Zuma’s deputy makes him somewhat complicit in the widespread corruption, and it was a subject he remained largely silent on until the prospect of becoming president became a reality.

Land reform

The promise to expropriate land that was stripped from black owners during apartheid was first made by the ANC in 1994, when it promised to redistribute 30% of white-owned farmland

Original image, which has been modified, courtesy of


within five years. However, it is estimated that only 10% has been transferred to this day. Ineffective land reform could also be economically dangerous. Many farms that were transferred failed because the new owners were not well-equipped to run them, resulting in 70% of the land redistributed since apartheid now being fallow.

“This is the year in which we will turn the tide on corruption in our public institutions,’ he promised

On May 19, the ANC held its fi rst Land Summit in Boksburg, near Johannesburg, where President Ramaphosa admitted that progress on land reform had been slow, and argued for expropriation without compensation to prioritise food security, enhance economic stability and minimise the risk of “land-grabs”.

“To our people and indeed to all people, land is about dignity, identity and security,” he said. “Without the recognition of the property rights of all our people we will not overcome inequality, without giving the poor the means to productively work and farm the land we will not be able to defeat poverty.”

Public hearings on the matter of land expropriation without compensation are set to begin in June, with over 140,000 submissions having been received by the committee at the time of writing. South Africa’s new President has taken over a country marred with financial mismanagement at every level. But having built both a country and a financial fortune in the past, Ramaphosa looks like the best-placed person to try and turn things around. In his first three months in the job, no radical transformation has taken place that can truly determine whether he has the Midas touch that business leaders have been looking for, but his tangible commitment to change has nevertheless inspired some hope.


Expert Disrupting the renewables space spoke with Dr Kilian Hagemann on the economics of renewables and the impact his company, G7 Renewable Energies, has on the communities it works in. When did the company first establish and were you a founder?

Yes, together with my colleague Nicolas Rolland we founded G7. We started in early 2009 at a time when renewables were still considered expensive and unreliable.

did the company come about?

Nicolas and I got together in January 2009 with similar ambitions to develop windfarm projects in South Africa. It’s been an ambition of mine long before then, and he was just finishing at the Darling Wind Farm and wanted to move on to his own business to develop windfarms.


So your background is also in renewable energy? Just the year before, I completed my PhD by compiling the “Mesoscale Wind Atlas of South Africa”. So I have a science background, though with a more practical thinking. I never did any engineering classes as such but people often ask me if I’m an engineer.

“Coal… it’s only lunatics like Trump who are trying to prop it up artificially

So you’re developers, or owner-operators? How do you fit in the market?

We’re pure developers. We have greater ambitions to be owneroperators, but that’s a few years down the line. We’re undergoing that transition as we speak.

And the actual projects, every project is obviously in a community trust. Does your project become part of the trust, or do you sell it on and then they get involved in the rest of it?

The community trust is one of the many facets of project ownership. We started development from scratch, so we own 100% of the project. Then typically we would sell the rights to a large investor, a large IPP or utility as the main sponsor also in the public domain selling energy. They then run with the project and structure in a way that is optimal from an electricity tariff perspective, but also compliant with development obligations. Towards financial close, a community trust is allocated between 2.5% and 5% of the ownership in the wind farm, depending on the financing.

How many people do you roughly employ?

It’s only seven of us at the moment. We find ourselves in an uncertain South African market environment where it it is ill-advised to operate with large payroll, office and other overheads.

“In my opinion the REIPPPP will continue, similar to what it has been, because it’s starting to deliver some serious value for money for government after the fifth round of bidding What is your biggest achievement to date?

Our flagship project has been the 140MW Roggeveld wind farm which recently reached financial close in April 2018 and is now going into construction. It has one of the best capacity factors in Southern Africa thanks to us spending all these years finding the best wind sites, modelling flow patterns and optimising wind turbine layouts. Thanks also to an innovative financing structure that was put in place, Roggeveld has the cheapest electricity tariff of all projects that ever got awarded in the REIPPPP.

What’s in the pipeline in the next two years?

We have some projects still waiting for the announcement of the expedited bid window, two projects that we will have developed by then, and there’s the odd small project in there, and we have a bigger pipeline of about 700 megawatts upcoming for rounds 5 or 6 as and when they happen.

That’s quite a substantial amount of megawatts. How many projects is that spread over?

Five projects, 140MW each. These days, due the competitive nature of the program and the cap on windfarm projects, everyone goes for 140MW. That’s as large as you’re allowed to go in the REIPPPP, while the economies of scale say that’s as small as you should go.

Where do you see the REIPPPP going? Where do you see it panning out? Do you see it being replaced with something else?

In my opinion the REIPPPP will continue, similar to what it has been, because it’s starting to deliver some serious value for money for government after the fi fth round of bidding. The only thing that will change I believe is the timing, to have a bidding window every year like in the early days of the REIPPPP I don’t think will happen.



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I’d like round 5 to be next year or the year after that, but the biggest change will come on the economic development and ownership front. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pushed for more jobs, black ownership to increase, higher local content and so forth. That’s where the sticking points currently are.

One of the biggest bottlenecks has been Eskom but now with a new president in place, they’re giving the whole initiative a new lease of life. I think it’s a very important thing for the country and industry. Do you ever see renewables ever fulfilling the base load, overtaking coal generation? Yes, in the long run. Coal… it’s only lunatics like Trump who are trying to prop it up artificially. Putting it on life support, basically. But it ceases to have any benefit. It used to be much cheaper, but now with the costs of renewables plummeting, coal is just expensive and dirty. So there’s one last remaining advantage, and that’s its base load capability – but I think storage is going to solve that problem. The massive decrease in the price of batteries represents the tipping point of renewables and storage, and that will come in the next five years. At that point, coal will have no benefits whatsoever.

In Portugal, I think it was last month, they were 100% on renewables. So they have proven it can be done. That’s great. We did touch on socioeconomic impacts, so what sort of initiatives does your company have? Any CSR initiatives in place at all? We do quite a bit of research and go into a lot of detail on socioeconomic impacts of our projects. We have also done quite a number of community surveys where we go into the local communities, asking what it is that they actually need. One survey concluded

“The community trust is one of the many facets of project ownership the number one problem, or the number one wish, was a chemist. Because the town was so small and remote it had no chemist. This is what people wanted. We thought, “this is something we’d have never put in our plan if we hadn’t gone through this process.”

News TECH N O L O G Y In a gesture of support towards innovative startups in Africa French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged a €65 million investment program, to be funded through the French Development Agency (AFD). The fund will aim “to fill the gaps in the support with small sums ranging from €30,000 to €50,000 per startup, which is what the startups need,” Macron is reported as saying. Macron made the announcement at the third “Viva Tech”, which boasted speakers including Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, as well as Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. In other news involving international interest in the tech startups of Africa, Uber Eats, the food delivery business of Uber, has acquired the South African-owned restaurant technology company orderTalk, a move which is being hailed as a major deal for Knife Capital and one that will make Uber Eats’ operations in South Africa far smoother than before. Meanwhile at the Africa Tech Summit held in London on the 16th of May moderator Neandra Salvaterra opened the day by describing it as an event “about the future of now”, going on describe some of the unique challenges and questions the tech industry will face in the coming years, as well as how tech, especially African tech, will transform other industries with its own progression.


Finance Maintaining a focus on infrastructural development continues for Zimbabwe’s leaders, as the nation became the nineteenth member of the African Financial Corporation (AFC). President Emmerson Mnangagwa is quoted as saying that his country is “open for business”, with AFC president echoing his positive statement, saying in an official statement that he sees the political and economic renaissance positively and hopes it can contribute effectively to the revitalization of the country.

Meanwhile the UK has recently expanded its export finance influence into West Africa, with Ghana becoming the first West African country to have a representative of the world’s oldest export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), stationed in-country. It has been pointed out by some commentators that the the appointment of Mr Steven Gray represents further evidence that the British Government is committed to growing trade relationships with its African partners.

In other news, seventeen leading bankers and officials representing Eastern and Southern Africa are planning to meet on the 30th and 31st of May 2018 in order to discuss the possibility of using the Chinese yuan in national reserves, in order to facilitate the repayment of loans to China, a heavy investor in this and other parts of the continent. The move is not without precedent: several central banks in Europe have also discussed similar moves, highlighting the yuan’s rise as a unit in the world’s foreign exchange reserve.

News Trade Progress has continued on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), a process that started on 21 March with a summit of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda. The AfCFTA was signed by leaders of fortyfour nations and included a framework agreement and protocols on trade in goods, trade in services, dispute settlement, as well as additional legal documents.

The implications of the agreement are profound. If enacted by all signatories, it will become one of the largest free trades areas, containing over 1.2 billion people and over $4 trillion in potential spending. The aim of the agreement, while the details are enormously complicated, is simple – namely that Africa will become a single economic market and customs union allowing unhindered movement of business relationships and capital. The current situation, involving numerous regional trade agreements, engenders bureaucracy and many would argue is hindering the development of some of the continent’s most vulnerable nations. Twenty-two countries have already enacted the treaty, with trade analysts at a

near consensus over the benefits it will bring to the continent’s economic future. However, there have been notable voices of descent. Much has been said about the absence of Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa and Muhammadu Buhari, of South Africa and Nigeria respectfully, from the Rwanda conference – although many are pointing out that the absence does not necessarily have the strong implications some are claiming. The process will continue and will continue to be complex, and while it may be pointed out that the two key African economies undermining the agreement in any way hardly isn’t helpful, the full ratification of the AfCFTA looks to be, at some stage, part of the continents’ future.


Syngenta w w w . s y n g e n t a . c o m

root Tackling Africa’s agricultural sector at the

Image courtesy of Syngenta




ts focus may be on crop protection and seeds, but since deciding to invest in Africa and the Middle East over 50 years ago, Syngenta has used its influence to affect change in more ways than one.

Formed through the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals in 2000, Syngenta is a leading global agricultural company committed to transforming food security and empowering small-scale farmers worldwide. spoke to Peter Veal, Africa and Middle East Marketing and Commercial Operations Head and Kinyua MMbijjewe, Head of Corporate Affairs East and Southern Africa.

Its professed ambition is to support the inclusion of African farmers, regardless of their farms’ size, into viable value chains so that they produce more of what local and global markets want. They want to transform farmer yields at scale and increase their profitability in a way that creates sustainable value. To do this, Syngenta has developed a unique business model, allowing participation in Africa’s agricultural sector on a game-changing level with an integrated, collaborative approach that sets it apart within the sector. “You have to be willing to invest ahead of the curve,” says Peter Veal. “Some of our competitors have followed elements of our model, but no one looks at that holistic approach like we do.”

Grassroots agriculture Africa’s rapid population growth, predicted to double to 2.4 billion by 2050, is putting increased pressure on the continent’s agricultural sector and the need for food production. Those employed in the fi eld represent up to 70% of the African population, most of whom work in smallscale farming. For Syngenta, this represents an enormous opportunity for growth. “The opportunity and the challenge is to help these farmers be more productive, be linked to markets and be able to feed not only their communities but create wealth,” says Kinyua MMbijjewe. Syngenta addresses this issue at a grassroots level, running programs to empower smallholder farmers. “A lot of companies are willing to sell smallholder farms their products without training them in how to use them,” says Peter Veal. “What then happens is that they don’t get the returns and they’re stuck in that poverty cycle even more.”

“Partnerships are the path to progress. We’ve got to work together to make it happen


S y n g e n t a

In 2014, the company launched The Good Growth Plan, to improve the sustainability of agriculture and its business globally, through six commitments to be achieved by 2020. One of its commitments is to train 20 million smallholder farmers in Africa until 2020. By 2018, they have already reached almost 14 million globally, well on track to achieve the target.


Engaging the next generation

But the dream of Africa feeding itself while also contributing to global food security isn’t going to happen without ensuring the future of the industry. “We’re very conscious that we need to attract young people,” confides MMbijjewe. “If the youth aren’t interested in

agriculture because they see it as drudgery or backbreaking hours in the hot sun with little return, there’s no incentive.” To combat this issue, Syngenta runs programmes and competitions across East and Southern Africa to encourage youth engagement in the sector and allow them to see agriculture as not just labour, but business.


“We’ve found that in our Mavuno Zaidi programme, 50% of 30,000 participants are young people because they see money in it,” says MMbijjewe. “Where you fi nd the yield is low or the crop is uncertain, then you fi nd that the young people are not interested.” In the past, Syngenta also run competitions designed to challenge young people to come up with innovative ideas for investable business startups, taking them through a boot camp and exposing them to potential investors. According to MMbijjewe, all participants Bollore_01.pdf 1 20/04/2018 09:20:12

benefit in one way or another: “Some of them have been taken up, but all of them have learnt to look at agriculture as a business.”

“You have to be willing to invest ahead of the curve

Partnering for progress

But Syngenta is aware that agricultural development in Africa will not happen if they work alone. It’s openly and enthusiastically collaborative, working with farmers groups, NGOs, governments and players across the agriculture value chain to develop the sector, allowing its business to thrive alongside the general agricultural sector. “To support and empower farmers, our Business Development team on the ground invests in innovative

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and holistic business models which address barriers within the African agriculture today”, shares Peter Veal. “These include access to finance and market access, two key accelerators for sustainable profitable farming. We cannot do this alone and to implement at scale requires partnerships with like-minded organizations who bring their own complementary contribution. The right private sector partnerships which focus on execution at scale will begin to revolutionize smallholder agriculture and with it rural communities.”


“There’s no silver bullet in agriculture. Nature is dynamic One such partnership is the Farm to Market Alliance (FTMA), a consortium of eight public and private organisations, including Syngenta, brought together by The World Food Program. The FTMA takes a demand-led approach creating a market for crops and

supporting farmers to meet that demand through a series of interventions including access to financing, inputs, storage and market information. Syngenta also works with organisations like Techno Serve, a key player brining solutions to poverty in Africa. Joint efforts like Mavuno Zaidi aim to address several challenges faced by potato and tomato farmers in Kenya. “When you think about the number of people and the distance we’re talking about, being able to reach smallholder


farmers and teach them good agronomic practice requires a collaborative effort,” says MMbijjewe. In May 2013, Syngenta also signed its fi rst global Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with USAID, which was renewed last October. The intention is, through the donations of USAID, to boost agricultural productivity and uplift the wellbeing of smallholder farmers. No grants are given directly to Syngenta, but rather to various NGOs who the company then work with. “I think the old paradigm of development is unsustainable, nor can businesses do it alone,” says MMbijjewe. “We cannot be a master of all trades, you really need to work with those that are experts in others. Partnerships are the path to progress. We’ve got to work together to make it happen.”

Policy for the future

This collaborative approach isn’t restricted to funding and training. Africa needs viable markets and infrastructures to allow farmers to trade. Syngenta works with governmental bodies as members of the Farm to Market Alliance, an eightcompany partnership operating in East and Southern Africa and facilitated by the World Food Program, as well as the Brusselsbased group Private Investors for Africa.

“Policy is a big issue and a major bottleneck on Africa,” says Peter Veal. “We need these internal trade and common market agreements to thrive.” One of the biggest issues, he says, is facilitating border crossings and making them more efficient. As agricultural produce is generally perishable, the delays caused by excessive bureaucracy can be disastrous for farmers. “We’ve found it’s better to engage the governments as

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a group of likeminded private sector companies rather than as Syngenta,” he elaborates. “When you approach governments as a single company it can look like you’re trying to achieve something that’s only beneficial to you. We try to engage with partnerships where there’s more voices so they can deliver more.” Syngenta has also contributed to a technical manual developed by USAID to confront the pressing issue of fall armyworms spreading across the continent. “We’ve contributed technically to this issue and have had discussions as recently as yesterday as to how we can go beyond a surveillance of this pest towards entering into programs and large-scale campaigns to control it,” says MMbijjewe. “There’s no silver bullet in agriculture. Nature is dynamic, and you must approach it as such.”



w w w . s a r o z a m b i a . c o m

Leading the field SARO Agro Industrial is a forward-thinking Zambian agricultural company, committed to building for spoke the future. to founder Ashok Oza about overcoming adversity and continuing to invest in the country’s small-scale farmers.




ow one of the foremost suppliers of farming machinery to the small-scale, emerging and commercial farming sectors, with an estimated turnover of ZK 20 million, the SARO Group was founded in the mid-1980s by brothers Ashok and Sharat Oza, who are still at the helm as managing director and director, respectively. With a background in economics, Ashok Oza understands the necessity of investing in research, development and better infrastructure to respond to the industry’s changing needs.

“Mr Oza prefers to be involved on a much more personal scale. ‘Charity begins at home,’ he says Putting people at the centre

Although The World Bank recently set aside US$255 million to invest in Zambia’s agricultural sector, Mr Oza isn’t one to get bogged down in large-scale financing. “It’s too macro for me!” he laughs. “It’s got to open up farm blocks, provide roads and electricity, irrigation dams. If you take all that into account, it may not feel like much money.”



A g r o

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Kothari Group

Mr Oza prefers to be involved on a much more personal scale. “Charity begins at home,” he says, referring to his commitment to keeping on as many employees as possible during a downturn in the agricultural industry. “Farms employ a lot of people. SARO employs up to 300 people. Our major concern is to look after the welfare of these people and maintain their jobs given the downturn that we’ve experienced over the last two years. That in itself has proved an enormous challenge.”

“SARO Agro Industrial isn’t giving up on its ambitious plans for growth. As Mr Oza says, it’s ‘still battling through’

Weathering the storm

Zambia has faced a number of challenges to its agricultural sector in the last two years, including an oversupply of maize (its largest crop) last summer that couldn’t be exported due to government restrictions and a recent drought that threatened to cut maize output by 50%. Mr Oza is passionately in support of giving farmers of all sizes the ability to export their products. “I think the government wanted to ensure food security within Zambia, but we have an opportunity for farmers to benefit from an export market that they weren’t able to access. Now there’s a surplus of maize and the prices in the country are extremely low. Farmers haven’t earned as much money, and are now being challenged to replant for the coming season.”

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But the greatest impact, he says, will be felt by those with fewer financial resources. “For the larger, commercial farmers, they still have a market available for the product. The commercial farmers are in a better position than the small-scale farmers.” Despite feeling a “definite” impact from all this adversity, SARO Agro Industrial isn’t giving up on its ambitious plans for growth. As Mr Oza says, it’s “still battling through”.

Empowering small-scale farmers

Possibly the most important part of SARO’s ideology is giving small-scale and emerging farmers the tools, quite literally, to compete on the same level as their commercial counterparts, particularly with opportunities sitting right alongside them. Geographically, Zambia shares a border with Democratic

“Mr Oza is passionately in support of giving farmers of all sizes the ability to export their products


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Republic of Congo, who are experiencing a food defi cit and need to import maize. SARO believes if the restrictions on exporting the grain are lifted, smaller farmers should have as much access to that market as their larger competitors: “Zambia has to be able to produce competitively. And that is going to be achieved by upgrading the ability of emerging and small-scale farmers to the level of the major growers of maize. Because if we’re not competitive, DRC can import from South Africa or elsewhere,” argues Mr Oza.


Technology is key

“We constantly try to upgrade the small-scale and emerging farming sector and instill technological knowledge amongst them,” says Mr Oza. “Commercial farmers know what is available. It’s the small scale and emerging farmers who need the information. We do that by going out into the field as much as we can, carrying out as many demos as we can, imparting knowledge amongst the people and improving their productivity.” And it’s not just empty promises, either. In 2015, SARO embarked on a popular financing programme to provide small-scale farmers with mechanised farming equipment on credit in a bid to boost their performance and help them move into the emerging sector.

Looking to the future

To be such an enduring leader in the farming machinery field, you need an optimistic outlook. SARO believes in the potential of Zambia’s agricultural sector on all levels. “It’s going in the right direction,” says Mr Oza. “Government has also promised that maize marketing will be an open market situation. They will not try to control it or stop it.”

Follow us: @saroagro.zambia Saro Agro

Perhaps, with the financial support of a company like SARO Agro Industrial and the advocacy of industry leaders like Mr Oza, the backbone of the Zambian economy can continue to grow and expand its horizons.



s e n s u s . c o m

T a p p i n g

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technology With an ongoing water crisis in South Africa its utility sector is facing challenges unlike any other. Luckily, Sensus is a company going above and beyond the call of duty to adapt to the country’s water needs and promote water conservation.




ince becoming a part of the Xylem family in 2016, Sensus has been able to expand its increasingly important role in Africa’s water management sector. Primarily focused in South Africa, Sensus’ priority is providing effective products and solutions responding to the country’s evolving water requirements to both the public and private sectors. “From a Sensus perspective, we cover the whole spectrum,” says Gerardt Viljoen, Managing Director of Sensus South Africa. “We have everything from oldschool solutions to responsive smart meters, advanced metering infrastructure, solutions involving the Internet of Things…” Catering for a wide range of needs is vital for any utility sector company working across the water-sparse African continent. South Africa in particular is facing an ever-increasing water crisis,

“We should stop being reckless with wastage of water and be deliberate in our actions of use with Cape Town’s “Day Zero” – the day that the city runs out of water – looming on July 9. But Sensus is a company determined to keep optimism high, working to remind everyone from the consumer to the supplier of their role in alleviating the strain on South Africa’s resources.

Divided opinion

Part of the reasoning behind supplying such a broad range of water management solutions is that South Africa is a divided market, with the industry unable to come to a consensus on what works best given the existing challenges.

“The market is segmented into three trains of thought,” explains Viljoen. “One is traditional metering, which is the old way of doing things. Some people still like it that way. Another train of thought is to do with water revenue collection, where they’re having problems. People veer towards a pre-paid model, which is being used in South Africa as the standard.” Pre-paid meters, however, come with both advantages and disadvantages. For the provider, it ensures that you can collect the money for the water that’s being used, but the maintenance costs become so high that return on investment is somewhat of a pipe dream. “The other side of things is the move towards smart metering and advanced metering infrastructure. This has been largely adopted by the private sector, but has yet to reach the public sector in quite the same way,” elaborates Viljoen.


S e n s u s

Wasting away

To compound its existing water management challenges, South Africa’s utilities sector faces considerable losses from leakage. Approximately 20% of water that gets circulated around the country’s sparse infrastructure is subject to losses.

“I think the public in South Africa [...] are generally realising the importance of water conservation

“It’s not just about saving the water,” says Viljoen. “It’s everything around that too. It’s the resources. If you lose 20% of the water, you’re also wasting 20% of the electricity that’s being used to pump it. It has a huge knock-on effect.”

However, with the looming depletion of Cape Town’s resources, public consciousness is definitely shifting towards water conservation. Sensus and its parent company Xylem run an outreach program called WaterMark, dedicated to raising awareness of water management concerns.

One of the major advantages of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is its ability to manage leakages and prevent these kinds of losses. Namibia, for example, has one of the lowest non-revenue water (NRW) figures in the region and uses AMI, including the Sensus iPerl meter, to measure every drop that passes through their infrastructure and proactively manage leaks. But South Africa’s public sector, according to Viljoen, is slow to catch on. “They are talking about it, saying they want to get into that space, it’s just that everything in Africa moves slow,” he says, saying that it could take two years for movement to take place in this area. “We should stop being reckless with water wastage and be deliberate in our actions of use.”


Catching up to progress

“I think the public in South Africa have the mindset and are generally realising the importance of water conservation,” opines Viljoen. “It is not one single individuals’ responsibility, this is everyone’s responsibility and we, you and I, need to start this in our day to day lives and teach it to our kids and neighbors.” With the benefits of implementing AMI appearing so obvious and consumers becoming increasingly aware of issues surrounding water conservation, it begs the question of why it is taking the public sector so long to catch on. “I think the initial reluctance comes from capital costs,” admits Viljoen. “I’m always keen to point

out the long-term benefits of AMI: if you look at savings over a period of time it actually ends up paying for itself. I think once governments start adopting proper funding models then they can start reaping the benefits.” For the short-term, it appears as though the shift towards smarter technology and AMI in Africa’s water management sector may be too little too late. But with companies like Sensus leading the charge and consumers becoming increasingly aware of what they can do to promote water conservation, South Africa stands a better chance of recovering from the water crisis and developing a steady supply for its long-term future.

Follow us: @SensusGlobal @SensusGlobal sensusglobal Sensus SensusGlobal

Leaders in water management systems

Original brass meter

Replaced by composite polymers


About us

Testing and quality procedures All products are tested to the most stringent requirements. Because of previous system failures in the field, due to poor installation and or supervision, we fully assemble and test all our valve boxes, meter boxes and aboveground meter box assemblies up to 24 bar for three minutes.

/HDȫʑɠʖɚ ʃȱɏʖQʏXVʤʢɨ IʝɠɪʙPRVɢ ɆHʋUɡ

Davis & Deale Irrigation have been in the technology of developing, manufacturing, marketing and exporting of water-related innovative products since 1980. Mr Davis has many past and current patents held in water-related and other polymer products. 6-8 Coert Steynberg Street Van Eck Park Ext2 | Brakpan

Office: +27 (0)11 827 2460 Fax: 086 619 0799 E-mail:

PO Box 5070 Delmenville, 1403 | South Africa


w w w . a i i m a f r i c a . c o m

progress P O W E R E D

As Africa’s largest and most experienced private equity management firm with a focus on infrastructure, African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) have a big role to play in the continent’s ever-developing energy sector as it transitions away from coal and towards renewables.




ith investments across SubSaharan Africa totalling US $2.1 billion, AIIM is a forward thinking firm that has long struck a delicate balance between being a keen follower of trends in the energy market and a leader in infrastructure investment.

The future looks green

Since being established as a joint venture between Old Mutual and Macquaire, and then becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Old Mutual Alternative Investments in 2015, AIIM has has proven its track record across seven different infrastructure funds, demonstrating a willingness to listen to the needs of Africa’s energy industry and the audacity required to dive in ahead of the curve.

The affordability of renewable energy sources has the potential to make Africa’s power sector a world leader. This is supported by policy initiatives across the region, including South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) program, which has so far delivered a quarter of the national renewable energy target of 18,800MW to be supplied by renewable energy by 2030, and Nigeria’s Renewable Energy Master Plan, which aims to increase the contribution of renewable energy to account for 10% of Nigerian total energy consumption by 2025. As a result, renewable energy is expected to make up 40% of sub-Saharan African generation capacity by 2040.

It is continuing to invest in progressive infrastructure with the African Infrastructure Investment Fund 3 (AIIF3), targeting core and core-plus infrastructure investments in the power, transport and midstream energy sectors.

“One of our industry’s biggest challenges is sourcing and securing the best investments that deliver value

Africa’s energy landscape is unlike any other on the planet. Its shortcomings, such as the fact that around 63.5% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity, are actually becoming catalysts for innovation, as the continent has been described as “leapfrogging” over coal and towards renewable energy.

AIIM has been actively supported this transition away from coalbased energy projects, investing the vast majority of the AIIF3 in renewable infrastructure, including the acquisition of a stake in Nigerian solar-diesel-battery energy company Starsight Power Utility in February and Amandi


A f r i c a n

Energy, a 200MW thermal power station in Ghana, in January. Speaking to ESI Africa, Romain Py, AIIM’s Head of Transactions, said: “As long-term infrastructure investors, we want to make both a positive and sustainable impact, as well as targeting investments with attractive return profiles.”

An appetite for infrastructure

This strong and ever-increasing demand for renewable energy comes hand-in-hand with a rising demand for infrastructure. Historically, insufficient and commercially impractical infrastructure has been a major obstacle in Africa’s economic growth. The few power plants and transmission lines that are present across Sub-Saharan Africa are currently operating at just a fraction of their capacity, having been installed in the mid20th century and inadequately modernised since. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has estimated that, in order to meet energy demand and various policy objectives, the continent will require $170 billion a year in infrastructure investment for the next decade. “One of our industry’s biggest challenges is sourcing and securing the best investments that deliver value. A deep local presence and geographically diversified portfolio are essential in doing so,” says Py.

I n f r a s t r u c t u r e

“The improvements in economic conditions are encouraging and reflects Africa’s status as the world’s fastest urbanising continent Since launching in 2017, the AIIF3 has allowed investments in Burkina Faso, Mali, Tanzania and Nigeria to take shape. Additionally, to facilitate further investment and the continued development of projects, AIIM opened their fifth regional office last year in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

Empowering policy

Thankfully, the investment environment in Sub-Saharan Africa is developing positively due to proactive policy changes. For example, on April 4 South African energy minister Jeff Radebe was finally able to sign renewable energy deals that would unlock R56 billion in direct investment after two years of delays. These delays are anything but a problem exclusive to South Africa. Frustrating bureaucracy and unclear regulation has been hampering investment across the continent, causing Py to issue a warning-of-sorts at the 2016 Infrastructure Africa Business Forum. “Africa’s lack of infrastructure development comes down to policy failures and the stability of

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African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM)

I n v e s t m e n t

M a n a g e r s

the regulatory environment,” he said. “If we as investors feel the policy is unclear or not sustainable, we will not invest.” However, in 2018, he appears to have changed his tune, expressing optimism to ESI Africa: “The improvements in economic conditions are encouraging and reflects Africa’s status as the world’s fastest urbanising continent.” Unlocking large-scale investment in the power sector is something that countries across sub-Saharan Africa must take responsibility for through progressive and transparent policy changes. To this end, AIIM are working with a number of African pension funds, empowering them to invest in their own story, according to Py. The bold policy changes being implemented by African governments to move energy consumption away from coal and towards renewables have the potential to make the region’s energy industry one of a kind. However, without sufficient investment in supporting infrastructure, the ultimate ambition of improving energy access will struggle to become a reality. For nearly two decades, AIIM have been a driving force behind infrastructure development across Africa, and their influence will continue to be felt as the renewable sector gains momentum.

Power to to Change Power Change Azura Power is a developer, financier, acquirer and operator of Independent Power Plants (IPPs) across Africa.

Azura Power is a developer, financier, acquirer and operator Our ambition to build the continent's leading of isIndependent Power Plants (IPPs)power acrossgeneration Africa. platform. Visit

Our ambition is to build the continent's leading power generation platform. Visit

CodanRadio w w w . c o d a n r a d i o . c o m





country could have the best security personnel in the world, but it could all go to waste without access to reliable and effective communications. Thankfully, reliability is one of the cornerstones of Codan Radio Communications products.

Trusted by governmental agencies and organisations all over the world, Codan Radio Communications brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table, but what really sets this company apart is the fact that it is still all ears.

Having recently exhibited at both the West Africa Security Symposium in May and December’s Africa Security Symposium in Cote d’Ivoire, Codan’s high-frequency (HF) radio solutions are used by all major peacekeeping and humanitarian missions throughout Africa, as well as border security forces, police forces, wildlife protection and more. According to Senior Regional Sales Director John Neumann, events like these represent a major learning opportunity for the company. “It’s not a sales pitch,” he emphasises. “When we do these events, it’s really the reverse. We have the opportunity to sit down with dozens of end users, country or organisational representatives and really understand some very unique configurations, circumstances and mission needs.” The trust placed in Codan systems by the world’s most critical sectors is no accident, but the product of experience, common sense and a willingness to listen and more importantly hear its end user.

Evolving needs

Security is an industry constantly in flux, so the primary needs of a given country back in December may have since been superseded by more pressing concerns. The ability to respond to such rapidly changing requirements isn’t just about being a good listener, but having the creativity to come up with solutions that rise to the challenge. “There’s some military end users at the event in Cote d’Ivoire that came up with some very interesting, very complex scenarios for their command and control needs,” says Neumann. “That gets us charged up to find solutions to assist them.”

“Reliability is one of the cornerstones of Codan Radio Communications products Africa is also a unique continent for security operations. Whereas most countries rarely deploy outside their own borders, and infrastructure set up at known locations is enough to meet their communication, multinational task forces across the African continent are common.


C o d a n

“The level of complexity once you leave your interior lines goes up in multiples,” explains Neumann. RIOS is a particularly innovative solution from Codan, acting as a communication gateway between different communication systems, including those not manufactured by the same company. “That’s a tremendous aid to them because it saves money that they don’t have to buy all kinds of new radios or switch to new encryption. They can use the existing kit and still have an improvement on their command and control.”

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Advanced technology, simple interface

As well as continually fluctuating security needs, Codan must contend with making the world’s most sophisticated technology instantly accessible to its end user in even the harshest environments. Many systems on the market require the operator to have knowledge of both the English language and computer management.

“The trust placed in Codan systems by the world’s most critical sectors is no accident, but the product of experience

( E M E A )

“We’ve minimised the knowledge prerequisite so that it’s easier to train non-English speaking end users,” says Neumann. “When we go to Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, or Mozambique, we have them work on radio functions that are in their native language.” As for the usability itself, the interface’s complexity is comparable to a really robust smartphone, rich in features that can be accessed the second a situation arises. “Our systems are supporting difficult missions in high temperatures and jungle environments and we’re exceeding the military standard for command and control apparatus,” shares Neumann.

Knowing the product

Codan’s ability to satisfy the command and control needs of their end users comes from a place of sheer expertise. Neumann, a retired US Marine Colonel, also has at his disposal a “professional cadre” of field service representatives consisting exclusively of former UK, US, French Foreign Legion soldiers and highly trained local nationals, who he describes as “critical” to the company’s success. “They have spent years and years, each of them, in Africa with the end users,” he says. “They have built tremendous professional and technical relationships with the end users,




It’s not just a conflict with forces on the ground. It’s a challenge to command, control and communicate to all deployed units, get real-time updates and coordinate tactics. We hear you.

whether they need assistance with training, troubleshooting or a technical refresh.” Although prior military experience is not a prerequisite at Codan – particularly as its solutions also focus on commercial clients such as air traffic control, where it recently allowed Somalia to control their own airspace for the first time in years – the company is insistent on understanding how its products are working fo end users. “If you’ve just come out of the UK military after 22 years, you’ve experienced a lot of troubleshooting in different scenarios. These guys are technical experts, so it’s a perfect match.”

To discuss your solution contact Codan Radio Communications. UAE office: +971 (0) 44 53 72 01

The heart of the action From developing solutions that respond to Africa’s connectivity needs to helping countries make groundbreaking changes to their radio capabilities, Codan is at the heart of Africa’s security landscape. Its continued participation at symposiums and summits like the Africa Security Symposium

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“Codan is at the heart of Africa’s security landscape

@CodanRadio @codanradiocomms Codan Radio Communications Codan Radio Communications

in May is merely evidence of its ongoing commitment to not simply hearing from those using its products and solutions, but applying this to its operations as a company.



w w w . n e t a f i m . c o . z a

Opportunities for growth



An African subsidiary of an Israeli irrigation company, Netafim have been supporting African farmers and operating across the SADC since 1992, bringing its revolutionary drip-based irrigation technology to some of the world’s most challenging arable land. spoke to managing director Etienne Erasmus about his time with the company and its future.


etafim has been at the cutting edge of irrigation since the invention of the drip irrigation system back in 1965. Its development since then has been continuously and consistently innovative. Etienne Erasmus has been the managing director of Netafim since 2006, but has been working in irrigation since 1981 as a designer, and as President of the South African Irrigation Institute (SABI) since 2004. He describes how the industry has changed: “I saw booms in all the irrigation methods from impact sprinklers to drip and back to impact sprinklers in the early 80s”, he begins. “We saw a boom in static micro jets and then micro mini sprinklers that ruled in our market during the late 80s till the beginning of the 90s.

“Its development since then has been continuously and consistently innovative “But slowly drip irrigation started to get momentum when the concept was understood better and we started to apply nutrients through them. The drip systems acted like a transport medium for macronutrients and micronutrients. They also understood what ‘food’ (nutrients) plants needed at different phenological growth


N e t a f i m

Cherry Irrigation...

stages and this was applied through the drip systems right to the roots of the plants.” Erasmus also saw the company become part of the SADC, the Southern African trade and development bloc that covers all of southern Africa. The company has moved into Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and even seen good sales in Angola.

Etienne Erasmus, managing director, Netafim

“Farming could soon be done by app

Growing more with less

Drought has been a perpetual and devastating issue for African farmers across the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa, the cause of many crises and famines across the region. Founded to wring life from the deserts of the Middle East, Netafim has always been about sustainability. Its core product, the drip irrigation system, is the most efficient system that exists and one specifically built to irrigate as wide an area an possible using as little water as possible. However, over the last few years, Netafi m has stretched beyond this core to also offer smart irrigation solutions. Erasmus explains that his company “tried to fi nd the right solution for specifi c circumstances and then help the farmer to save water and optimize their crop production.” a leading irrigation business specialising in the design and implementation of all types of agricultural irrigation systems. We are an authority on the design and installation of irrigation systems for the open field and greenhouse market. Based in the Western Cape of South Africa, we proudly serve a variety of businesses, both large and small, across Sub-Saharan Africa. We pride ourselves on offering a turnkey solution from consultation, assessment, planning and design through to implementation and aftersales support. Our focus is on quality and all the equipment we install is sourced from reliable, reputable dealers who have an unparalleled standard of excellence. We have a long-standing relationship with NETAFIM and are also a NETAFIMapproved supplier of crop management technology (CMT) products which offer the best possible control systems for your greenhouse. This high quality equipment is complemented by our SABI-approved (South African Irrigation Institute) designers ensuring that only the best possible design solutions are delivered to you. Cherry Irrigation has over 30 years experience in the industry, we’re a SABI company member and we’re a registered ISO9000 company. We pursue strong, longlasting relationships with all our customers and we recognise that these relationships can only be earned by building trust and demonstrating commitment. We believe meticulous sales and aftercare services are key to securing this.

For more information call +27 21 859 4246 or visit


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Mouldex (Pty) Ltd... ..was established in January 1992, in a suburb 20 km’s outside of Cape Town named Brackenfell. Brackenfell is situated in close proximity to Cape Town International airport, it is also within a stone’s throw of the famous Wine Routes. Mouldex is an owner managed company. We pride ourselves on the fact we undertake to any new and exciting projects with enthusiasm and zest. The owners are very much

One of Netafim’s key business areas is the sugarcane industry, with huge sugar estates leading its growth in Africa. The company’s website boasts that drip irrigated cane fields registered yields of 50 to 90 tonnes/ha more than others, with 30-45% water conservation and 25-30% reduced fertiliser requirement. In Africa the returns could be even higher. Particularly for lower-income farmers in less developed countries this kind of saving can be a significant advantage, allowing them to invest more in their farms and produce much greater volumes of product. This also applies to other crops and sugarcane is by no means Netafim’s only business. It also sells to cash crop farmers growing bananas, tobacco, blueberries, avocados and nuts, as well as more general staple farmers growing vegetables and grains.


It is increasingly apparent that droughts and water shortages are a function of climate change, and as such an inevitability only going to increase in intensity as time goes on. Netafim is continuously developing its technology to account for more and more extreme climate change situations and for greater and greater efficiency while retaining the reliability and affordable cost that’s made it so successful.

“Founded to wring life from the deserts of the Middle East, Netafim has always been about sustainability

hands on, in both the Injection Mould Tool manufacture and the injection moulding production. Mouldex produces high quality plastic components for various companies in South Africa. The product ranges from irrigation components, educational toys to pharmaceutical components, etc. Mouldex has an extensive quality program that has to comply with the S.A.B.S standards. Mouldex is also ISO 9001 compliant. Mouldex has a fully equipped tool making tool room, which can produce Injection Mould Tools to the highest standard. We also have our own design facilities with the latest Plastic Moulding design packages that will accommodate any Injection Mould design necessary. For more information contacts us: Tel: +27 (0)21 981 8699

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Vegtech At Vegtech, our years of experience and ongoing commitment to innovation combine to create undercover growing solutions that deliver real results for your business. We partner with you every step of the way, from concept to construction, and provide you with expert advice and ongoing support to help your business flourish. In partnership with global irrigation leader Netafim, we offer a high range of the highest quality products and systems to meet all of your growing requirements. What we offer: Turnkey Solutions Greenhouse Structures Irrigation Climate Control Crop Management Technology Growing Products Contact us for more information: Tel: +27 (0)21 987 6980

“That means maintaining our integrity, good intent, performance drive, fairness, aligned values, training, knowhow, good planning and execution Erasmus believes that the next step will be more attention to digital farming, helping farmers make better decisions and allocate resources more efficiently. Strange though it may sound, Africa’s cellphone revolution provides the perfect means to grow this new development in farming, providing a convenient way to monitor, influence and control smart irrigation systems. Farming could soon be done by app.


Sustainable business

Netafim has been in the business a long time, and part of that is thanks to a robust recruitment process designed to recruit the best and brightest personnel. As Erasmus emphasises, hiring well is the key to his company’s success. “We have a very dynamic team, and stability of personnel is part of our success. Business is about people and trust, and sound relationships you build

over time. We have our own internal training programme in SA, and then we have iLearn, a Netafim internet training program which offers over 1000 computer software courses. It covers things like relationship building, public speaking, team building, organising your work spaces, stress management and dozens of other topics both specific to our industry and to build competence as a whole.” Going forward, the company is planning for steady growth and development rather than ambitious leaps, focusing on SADC countries and its international projects team. Erasmus says that going forward Netafim “have to make sure we


stay open to change but above all, we have to make sure we keep the basics in place. That means maintaining our integrity, good intent, performance drive, fairness, aligned values, training, knowhow, good planning and execution. And last but not least, to never compromise on quality and constantly encourage innovation and good leadership.” Etienne plans to position his company as a preferred supplier for multiple SADC countries, with a particular focus on Zambia. “We’ve put more people on the ground and in particular appointed an in-house agronomist in Zambia, because it’s the country with the most potential at the moment.

“The Zambian market is the main market for sugar cane, being well established in the Illovo area and Upper Bala. There are more than 1.5 million smallholders in Zambia. Those are the farmers who can pass on their knowledge and experience and turn them into big farmers who are more profitable.”

Follow us: @NetafimCorp @netafim Netafim Netafim













Middle East

On the heartbeat of Middle Eastern trade and commerce

Atlas Aerospace w w w . a t l a s a e r o s p a c e . a e

Strong player participating in a local industry

take off


Atlas Aerospace Solutions is a young company with a fresh vision to bring aircraft systems integration to the heart of the UAE’s economy. spoke with managing director, prof. Imad Victor Lahoud, about the company’s commitment to remaining local while having a global outlook.



t only 18 months old, Atlas Aerospace is the newest addition to the Abu Dhabibased Atlas Group family. It may be young, but it’s anything but naive. This company, the brainchild of Imad Lahoud, has an ambitious plan to draw on thirty-three years of experience to become a beacon of the regional aerospace market.

After joining Atlas Group, it was the company’s unique business model and his own wide-ranging experience that inspired Lahoud to found the aircraft systems integrator arm. “Our CEO always looks for added value ” he says of Rashid Al Mutawaa, Atlas Aerospace and Defense CEO. “I have a background in aerospace, I’m a former Airbus employee, I’m a pilot myself, I’m a professor in Mathematics … I saw an opportunity to copy the model that actually made Atlas successful, which is the added value integration and installation company.”

“At only 18 months old, [Atlas] may be young but it’s anything but naive

Local priorities

According to Lahoud, Atlas’ main priority is to make UAE a regional hub for aerospace by capitalising on the country’s exciting and daring attitude to technology. “I think that if you want to work in the aerospace industry, the UAE is the place to be,” he asserts. “I’ve never seen a country as daring as UAE. We’re doing modifications that honestly, no Western country would dare do.” Through its commitment to the local economy, Atlas sees itself as being an active participant behind the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a longterm plan for the transformation of the emirate’s economy, which involves a reduced reliance on the oil sector as a source of economic activity and a greater focus on knowledge-based industries, such as aerospace, in the future. “It’s extremely straightforward for us,” says Lahoud. “By building a local capability, doing everything in-house, avoiding going to subcontractors outside the UAE, we are actually contributing to the building of a local knowledge. Money that would normally go out of the UAE to subcontractors will actually remain in the UAE and be recycled in the local economy.”

International partners

But this focus on building on the local workforce and industry doesn’t prevent Atlas from looking outwards and partnering with global superpowers. The company works with some of the biggest original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the world, from Leonardo, to Honeywell, CarteNav Solutions and more. “They are absolutely essential,” affirms Lahoud. “They can actually dictate your success or your failure, not because of the price or equipment, but because of the ground support they give you to install their equipment.” Lahoud goes as far to likening the closeness of these partnerships to an extended family of collaborators who mutually ensure one another’s success. “All of these partners are like big brothers,” he says. “They’re around us to help us succeed in the installation, so it’s a mutual partnership.”


A t l a s

A e r o s p a c e

S o l u t i o n s

CarteNav Solutions Inc...

Atlas is striking a delicate balance between building a local knowledge while drawing on international expertise. Lahoud considers himself fortunate to have access to Western knowhow in his senior management team, in the shape of his chief engineer, head of operations, head of installations and head of program management. “They know what they’re talking about and they’ve been doing this for a number of years,” he says. “To be cost-effective and competitive, my top management are all people who have more than 30 years’ experience in the business and we’re training this team of young, local engineers.”

Future growth

In the 18 months since its inception, Atlas has already grown from the two founders to a team of fifty, with full engineering, program management, airworthiness, quality and installation teams. In February, the company solidified its presence in the industry by showcasing its aviation universal training simulator at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Air Expo. “It was fantastic because although we are today focusing on the military, we have a plan to move into civil aircraft,” says Lahoud. “What we wanted to show is the capabilities of Atlas Aerospace, the power and the modifications of the private jets and smaller aircraft.”


“If you want to work in the aerospace industry, the UAE is the place to be

To this end, Atlas is currently working on a project in Egypt to upgrade civil aircraft to the country’s new regulation, the Safe Flight 2020. The Abu Dhabi Air Expo, says Lahoud, was an opportunity to show off these successes. “It was a case of going to the show and demonstrating how the equipment installed on the aircraft would react and inform the pilot and the crew to a safer flight.” The expansion of the company also inevitably comes with the expansion of the workforce. In line with its commitment to the local economy, Atlas is hiring engineers right out of Abu Dhabi’s universities. It has signed a threeyear agreement with Khalifa University to take on 6-10 interns in their third year of study for 8 weeks training at Atlas’ facilities, including a week in Europe to meet with the company’s OEM partners, before hiring them at the end of their studies. an ISO9001:2015 certified company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. From its founding in August 2002, CarteNav has become a recognised leader in mission system software that enhances situational awareness and improves mission effectiveness on airborne, landbased and maritime platforms. ?Its initial line of business was research and development contract work for defence laboratories in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. A contract with the Royal Australian Air Force to provide an advanced software solution combining moving map and video technology with EO/IR turret control soon led to the launch of the company’s first mission system software product, AIMS-ISR®. To satisfy a broader range of mission profiles, the product range now includes two COTS software products, AIMS-HD and AIMS-GS+. The software is Windows®-based, ITAR free and operational on civil, government, military and paramilitary deployments in over 35 countries around the world. Following its acquisition in 2016, CarteNav is now a subsidiary of PAL Aerospace and is part of the Exchange Income Corporation (EIC) group of companies.

“We’re a local company,” reemphasises Lahoud. “We’re hiring local talent and local engineers to help us in this growth.” Having already begun to establish itself by capitalising on home-grown talent while nurturing its international partnerships, Atlas is hoping that as its fresh-faced engineers rise through the ranks, they can bring the local economy and aerospace industry with them.

CarteNav’s market-leading AIMS Mission System Software is enhancing situational awareness and improving mission effectiveness on airborne, land-based, and maritime platforms. By processing and managing imagery and data from a variety of sensors, AIMS provides the operator with a real-time, geo-referenced operating picture for mission planning, delivery, recording, and review. Deployed and proven in over 40 countries worldwide. |

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Essential Business Magazine

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Essential Business Magazine  

Issue 24

Essential Business Magazine  

Issue 24