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Africa

www.essentialbusinessmag.com|Issue 21

Success Building on

Equipping African industry with Liebherr

Also in this issue: Erwat p32 Sizabantu Piping Systems p46 Invincible Valves p58 Proconics p66

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E X E C U T I V E

D I R E C T O R S

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his issue looks closely at the systems and companies keeping Africa’s economies running, whether they’re laying water pipes or opening up new air travel routes.

In our lead feature we look at the African division of international heavy equipment company Liebherr, whose world-class construction and mining machinery is at the heart of many African industrial projects. There’s also a three-part look at the companies bringing water to African homes, businesses and factories – ERWAT, working for water security, Sizabantu, whose innovative plastic pipe designs are revolutionising water networks, and Invincible Valves, a manufacturer of specific components and a great example of a strong female-led business. We also have an interview with Proconics, an engineering firm with strong connections to the energy and chemical giant Sasol. Finally, in this issue’s feature article we examine the progress of the East African Railway Plan.

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Contents The arteries of Africa 6

Sizabantu Piping Systems 46

examines the state of sub-Saharan Africa’s railways. Long-neglected, many rail routes are now seeing new investment and development.

Cheap, durable, reliable and easy to install are the qualities which have helped launch the success of Sizabantu’s plastic piping systems. finds out more.

Corridors of power 10 An interview with Johan van der Merwe, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, about its Voortrekker Road Corridor Strategy and Investment Plan.

News round-up 14

Invincible Valves 58

The latest business, finance and trade news from across Africa.

Invincible Valves supplies quality valves to customers worldwide. interviews its award-winning MD.

Liebherr Africa 18 For this edition’s lead feature covers Liebherr Africa, the heavy equipment giant keeping mines and construction sites running across the continent.

Proconics 66 Proconics conducts engineering and repair works in hazardous environments, such as obsolete oil rigs. finds out more.

East Rand Water Care Company (ERWAT) 32 Water security is becoming increasingly tenuous in Africa, and companies like ERWAT are rising to the challenge. investigates.

OR Tambo International 74 The heart of a massive new aerotropolis development, South Africa’s OR Tambo International Airport is seen by some as a template for the future of African air travel.

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Africa The Arteries of

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Kenya’s newly built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway line opened late last month, promising a new fast link between the capital and the coast. East Africa has always had huge potential for railway investment as a way to bridge landlocked nations with coastal ports, but the existing systems have lagged behind in potential. This is something the East African Railway Master Plan is looking to change.

This is around a fifth of the amount of material carried by Brazil’s railways in the same period, and less than a tenth of the total carried by China’s railways. In East Africa the problems of under-use and decay are particularly acute, exacerbated by the fact that different colonial administrations introduced different gauges of railway, complicating international trade, and by decades of poor maintenance leaving existing links operating below capacity.

The East African Railway Master Plan

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frica’s railways have been in a poor state for decades. Dilapidated, under-performing and poorly connected, some are down to an average speed of 15kph while others operate aged rolling stock across colonial-era rails. Many have seen diminished service since the 1980s. SubSaharan Africa’s trains managed just 158 billion tonne-kilometres of freight in 2014, 84% of it in South Africa.

To resolve this, several East African countries and Chinese investors have begun pouring resources into a number of rail transport projects. Cooperation between the East African Community and the transport consultation firm CPCS Transcom has produced the East African Railway Master Plan.

“Some estimates put transport costs in the region at 200300% of the costs of moving goods in developed countries, and the road networks that transport the majority of the cargo instead are overloaded and under-maintained

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The plan initially involves the construction of four new or upgraded standard-gauge railway lines: the Addis AbabaDjibouti Railway in Ethiopia, the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya and the two Standard Gauge Railways under construction in Tanzania and Uganda.

“While many don’t expect these various rail projects to actually begin making money or even pay back their loans for some time, China’s Belt and Road initiative is partially dependent on improved access to East Africa The Ethiopian and Kenyan railways are already in trial service, with the MombasaNairobi line carrying passengers since May 2017 and cargo from January 2018, while the Ethiopia-Djibouti line opened in October 2016. The Kenyan line will eventually extend east to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. These projects are being developed in tandem with much larger transport infrastructure development projects like the Lamu Port South-Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project, which involves parallel

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road, rail, air and oil transport routes as well as the construction of new ports, refineries and even resort cities across Ethiopia and South Sudan, also built in standard gauge.

Complex motivations

This lack of reliable, highspeed long-distance transport infrastructure is particularly pressing for the many African nations that remain landlocked and reliant on cross-border transit to connect them to the oceans. In East Africa, Burundi, South Sudan, Zambia, Rwanda and particularly Uganda are all separated from the Indian Ocean by other countries, and at present the cost of moving goods overland and internationally in Africa remains high due to underdeveloped infrastructure.

Some estimates put transport costs in the region of 200-300% of the costs of moving goods in developed countries, and the road networks that transport the majority of the cargo instead are overloaded and undermaintained. Decades of poor service from rail links means that most cargo in East Africa is now moved by truck, resulting in heavy traffic jams, pollution and limited carry capacity, especially in terms of raw commodities. Without major rail upgrades, truck transport will remain cheaper and more efficient. The existing international transport systems between these countries have reached capacity. Mombasa port, in particular, sees at least one million containers per year, and


OnTopic

is bursting at the seams trying to move them all. The line to Nairobi might be able to carry as much as half of this, ten times as much as the old railway which runs alongside the new line. China remains the driving force behind these developments as it has been across Africa. Chinese investors and banks are looking to expand the continent’s transport capacity both for regular trade and intra-African trade, which according to some figures makes up less than 20% of the continent’s total. The motivations are complex. While many don’t expect these various rail projects to actually begin making money or even pay back their loans for some time, China’s Belt and Road initiative (the massive Chineseled plan to open new trade routes between China and Europe) is partially dependent on improved access to East Africa, particularly major resourceproducing economies like Ethiopia and Uganda. As such, opening up trade access to African countries and developing their economies to allow easier transport through them is crucial for the Belt and Road initiative’s success. While the large inland East African economies are resource-rich and primed for rapid development, they’re also cut off by politics and geography. Ethiopia has Somalia and Eritrea between it and the

sea, hence the development of a rail corridor through Djibouti, their only other link, while Uganda is only accessible via Kenya. The development of East Africa’s trade and transport links also potentially opens a new contiguous economic area and therefore trade route through Sudan and Egypt, and north to the Mediterranean without passing through the Suez canal.

An ongoing commitment

While the rail project as a whole is going well, with the Kenyan sections finished well ahead of schedule, the system’s future is less certain for two reasons: maintenance and demand. African railways have a long history of being poorly maintained and insufficiently supported once they’ve been opened. While the old colonial-built systems were of course insufficiently future-proofed and equipped to provide the service required by modern, developing East African economies, the fact that they continued to be used for decades after the end of the Second World War speaks volumes about the money available to spare for upgrades or refurbishment. More telling is the tale of TAZARA, a railway line built by the Chinese, Tanzanian and Zambian governments in 1970 to connect Tanzania’s coast with Zambia’s extensive copper mining industry. TAZARA was

originally built to allow materials from Zambia to reach the Indian Ocean without having to cross Rhodesia or South Africa, but it rapidly succumbed to operational difficulties and was then out-competed in the 1990s by rail links through postApartheid South Africa and Namibia as well as by improved road transport like the TransCaprivi Highway and the Walvis Bay Corridor. In 2015 it carried just 2% of its design capacity’s worth of freight, and much of its rolling stock was abandoned.

“TAZARA was originally built to allow materials from Zambia to reach the Indian Ocean without having to cross Rhodesia or South Africa One of the main purposes of the East African Railway Master Plan and the Belt and Road initiative is to facilitate the raw materials and commodities trade between East Africa and the rest of the world, hence the refinery and pipeline-building projects underway alongside the railways. Should commodity prices dip again, as they did in 2016 and continue to do this year, this new infrastructure development may stall or be undone again, jeopardising the Belt and Road Initiative and the critically needed transport links it promises to bring.

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Expert

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ExpertInterview

Johan van der Merwe, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, about its told Voortrekker Road Corridor Strategy and Investment Plan, announced during last year’s African Real Estate & Infrastructure Summit.

What is the strategy behind the regeneration of the Voortrekker Corridor?

The objective around the regeneration of the Voortrekker Road Corridor (VRC) is to drive an efficient and fiscally sustainable City form. This means that we are working towards a compact, inclusive and productive city. To achieve this, the regeneration of the Voortrekker Road Corridor, as the urban core of the City and a vital transit-oriented development corridor, is key.

The strategy of regeneration is focused around using targeted public investment to leverage private sector investment. Thus, all of the planned public investment is focused on ensuring that the area is capable of receiving investment and that it is attractive to investors. To achieve this, we have considered the corridor as a whole and have identified key systemic issues that are impacting on the experience of the corridor for both users and investors. Programmes have been launched to deal with these issues. Concurrently, we have identified a number of prioritised local areas – areas of high potential for development and investment – and we are working to solve the issues in these areas. Thus, we are doing everything that we can to solve the issues at both a systemic and a local level through targeted investment and intervention. Clearly within this approach, the City considers investors and developers key partners in the regeneration of the corridor.

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What does the actual regeneration entail?

which will ease the process for developers wanting to build.

“The strategy of regeneration is focused around using targeted public investment to leverage private sector investment.

How much is the city investing into the infrastructure upgrades?

The regeneration work takes multiple forms as identified above, all of which are designed to enhance the transit-oriented development potential of the corridor. From a corridor-wide perspective, we are looking at how we can intervene to improve systemic issues that are impacting on the corridor.

These interventions include: working with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to improve the operation of the railway system and reviewing the main river system, the Elsieskraal, to identify means of reducing the impact of the flood-prone areas which reduce the developable land available within the corridor. At a local level, we are dealing with a range of interventions which comprise purely physical upgrading projects, such as the Kruskal Avenue upgrade to urban management interventions and the Parow Urban Management pilot project. We are also considering regulatory reforms

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The work has been prioritised to focus on ensuring that the basics for development and investment are in place in the area, including electricity supply and wastewater capacity, focusing on the drivers of regeneration which have been identified as residential intensification, capitalising on the provision of higher order public facilities and job retention and expansion.

The City has spent in excess of R300 million on infrastructure investments which are directly serving the corridor and significantly more on bulk infrastructure that contributes towards it. One of the key infrastructure investments that we are making is providing financing to PRASA to undertake a study to develop a plan of improvements/upgrades to this important rail corridor.

What are the timelines for this upgrade?

This is a long-term project that will evolve and develop as regeneration and development takes place. However, this has not precluded significant investment being made in the infrastructure of the corridor and, as indicated


ExpertInterview

above, in the first two years of this project where over R300 million was invested. The team is following a strategy of piloting interventions to test their efficacy and then rolling these out to other target areas in the corridor where the same approach can be beneficial. In this way we are able to rapidly test ideas and to refine implementation within a cost effective package. Our partners, the Greater Tygerberg Partnership and the city improvement districts have also been very active in improving the corridor.

What do you foresee will be the biggest challenges?

Urban management, which includes crime, grime and maintenance, is a key issue within the corridor. Solving this challenge is key to attracting investors to the area. We see the solution to this challenge emanating from the continuation and further development of partnerships between the City, the Greater Tygerberg Partnership, city improvement districts, land

owners, business operators, civic organisations and residents. In addition to this partnership approach, we are working with the City improvement districts and the Greater Tygerberg Partnership to provide additional services in key locations.

Anything else you would like to add?

We are extremely excited about this project and the potential that it holds for the City, investors and residents.

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News T

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COMMODITIES

ommodity prices continue to gradually improve following 2016’s crashes. Increased Chinese demand has pushed up iron ore prices, good news for South Africa and Mauritania, both among the top 15 global iron ore producers.

Global oil prices fell towards the end of the month, more bad news for Nigeria and the other major oil producing economies. Efforts are still underway in multiple countries to expand production, however – Cote d’Ivoire plans to double oil and gas outputs by 2020, and the Republic of Congo seeks to increase daily production to 300,000 barrels over the next two years. Africa Oil week took place on the week of the 18th, with over 160 speakers and the unveiling of multiple exciting new projects and developments on the part of numerous countries. The Gambia’s new government will soon present its legal framework to award contracts on its eight blocks of unallocated oil territory, potentially opening up multiple new avenues of investment. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has partnered with the oil firm Halliburton to search for oil in the Chad basin, with results expected in the next 12 months.

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he effects of the depreciation of the Congolese franc have begun to hit home as its value falls sharply against the US dollar. E C O Inflation is now N O M I C a problem in the country, and many residents risk being unable to afford food or basic necessities. As one of the many countries where the US dollar is a secondary currency, The Democratic Republic of the Congo is reliant on either its foreign currency reserves or on fresh capital and support from the World Bank and the IMF.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s new finance minister Malusi Gigaba has laid out a 14-point programme to partially privatise state firms and sell non-core assets in order to lift the country out of the recent recession. Its major regional rivals, on the other hand, are doing well. Figures released this week suggest that Nigeria will be in a position to lend to the International Monetary Fund in as little as ten years if current trends continue, and potentially become the world’s 14th largest economy by 2050. It will need to aggressively boost domestic and foreign investments to fully deliver sustainable growth in GDP.

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News K

enya will be one of the major beneficiaries of a deal between the African Development Bank and the government of Japan to extend up to 600bn Kenyan Shillings to increase energy access. The Japan-Africa Energy Initiative (JAEI) is based on a regional model and designed to help countries achieve universal energy access by 2025. Further shifts towards renewable power at the PowerGen Africa conference in Sandton, where Samansco CEO Nyasha Bamhare made a speech suggesting that Africa meets the technological,

social and political requirements for widespread solar power generation. Decentralised and distributed energy generation is predicted to be a key driver in Africa’s energy future. South Africa is also focusing on renewables, with the mayor of Tshwane planning a keynote

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hinese investment and skills are helping train AVIATION the next generation of African pilots and aviation workers. The Dean of China’s Chang’an university in Xi’an announced plans to build five new transportation focused universities in Africa at a conference in South Africa, with plans to start training 500 African aviation personnel a year in China already underway. Chinese soft-power efforts in Africa have diversified considerably in recent years, aiming to both expand and promote interAfrican trade and travel and generate

E N E R G Y address to the South African Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (Sanec) laying out plans to work with private enterprise to improve renewable generation in the region.

a market for their own domestic aviation industry, selling aircraft like the Xian MA-60 and the Harbin Y-12. Meanwhile, Nigeria is being highlighted as a potential regional aviation leader, with a strong economy and an advantageous position to take advantage of the expanding aviation market. Other regional leaders however are having problems. Kenya, which has over 620,000 jobs in the industry, has seen recent layoffs and contractions following economic difficulties. The Kenyan Aviation Authority (KAA) has begun studies to review its taxation and operating procedures to ensure that heavy fees and taxes don’t discourage business from its otherwise excellent airports.

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LiebherrAfrica w w w . l i e b h e r r . c o m

Building on

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Diversified

Liebherr -Africa has been serving the needs of the local Construction, Civil Engineering and Mining Industries since 1958 and next year will celebrate its 60th Anniversary.

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iebherr-Africa (Pty) Limited is a fully owned subsidiary of the international Liebherr Group, which operates from more than 130 Companies in various countries world-wide. In Southern Africa, the Company plays a vital role keeping the region’s industry and mines moving, where Liebherr equipment is a familiar sight on construction, industrial, port and mining sites. Liebherr-Africa, as a Mixed Sales Company features 8 different divisions, each focused on providing our customers with a uniquely tailored solution for their application in a wide diversity of industries. Liebherr sells mining, earthmoving, construction and material handling equipment; mobile, crawler and maritime cranes and also commercial and domestic fridges and freezers.

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S h a r e

Great companies have great tales to tell. With an established global reach, our editorial is read by senior executives, buyers, manufactures and other leading industry professionals. If you’d like to share your strory and bring your business closer to the people that matter, please contact us today. @EssentialBizMag

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L i e b h e r r

A f r i c a

Solutions for Tough times

Like many companies with a strong focus on mining and commodity-based industries, Liebherr has been affected by the recent crash in commodities prices and the aftermath of the global financial crisis. However, Liebherr’s global-minded corporate activities, together with its broadly-diversified product range mean that the Company is not as heavily dependent on the changing situations in individual markets.

Thanks to the Liebherr brand’s reputation for fuel and loading efficiency, many companies have selected its machines as a good long-term investment Particularly in South Africa, faltering commodity prices have forced mining and, to some extent, earthmoving customers to review capital expenditure against return, operational productivity and to reassess the margins of various projects. This has been directly impacting the market over the past few years as customers cut back on purchasing new equipment and postpone expensive overhauls on existing plants.

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L i e b h e r r

A f r i c a

Living Promotions ...is a corporate branding agency specialising in promotional gifts, graphic design, print media and custom manufacturing of a wide range of corporate clothing, uniforms and heavy work wear. We are not just another agency in the market, our hard work and commitment to clients has placed Living Promotions as one of the very few top agencies in Southern Africa. Our key focus is to provide clients with a refreshingly quality-driven service, an experience that will evolve into a respectful business relationship for years to come. We offer a tailored, all-in-one service to satisfy the branding and communication needs of our clients.

However, there is a positive to this downturn, as LiebherrAfrica’s rental vehicle fleet has been ideally positioned to become a stopgap to mining and industrial customers unable to afford to purchase equipment directly. Thanks to the Liebherr brand’s reputation for fuel and loading efficiency, many companies have selected its machines as a good long-term investment, especially for those trying to run their operations to the same standard on a tighter budget.

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With recovery continuing from the financial crisis and commodity prices beginning to stabilise, key sectors have begun to show cautious optimism. Recent World Bank forecasts suggest that commodity prices will increase by as much as 26% in the energy sector in 2017, with a corresponding shift in the investment backlog which build up during the recession. Liebherr are now looking benefit from this positivity in the form of both sales and long-overdue machine overhauls.

We supply both local-based promotional gifts and clothing, as well as a direct importing service, allowing us to offer clients an entirely customised product at competitive prices. Our arms are stretched across the globe to the Far East, offering direct importing advantages to our clients. Our aim is always to give your campaign a twist with exciting new product ideas, design or packaging options. Creativity is our fuel that has won us the support of clients. This places us in the top tier of service providers in the marketing and gifting industry. We have gained vast experience in the gifting and clothing industry over 14 years. For more information, go to

www.livingpromo.co.za


L i e b h e r r

A f r i c a

Innovation and design

While Liebherr-Africa is largely focused on sales and operations, the Liebherr Group aims to contribute and shape technological progress in various divisions, investing substantial amounts in research and development, the bulk of which is used for product development. The principle issues which has been the focus of the Group for some time now are increasing energy efficiency, networking, automation and lightweight product design, particularly in industries such as Aviation and Cooling

Heavy metal

Despite this broadening of focus, Despite this broadening of focus, Liebherr’s principle business is still the sale and service of heavy equipment, and it has recently released a number of new products. African customers, of course, often have similar concerns to those elsewhere – fuel efficiency, ease of use and servicing and economical running costs, but at the same time conditions can be particularly challenging. The Liebherr-Africa Earthmoving Division has launched two new products into the South African market to address these needs more fully – the PR776 bulldozer and the R920 excavator. The PR776 is the world’s largest hydrostatic-driven bulldozer. Specially designed to operate under the toughest mining and

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quarrying applications, it is powered by a 12-cylinder diesel engine and can be equipped with blades of up to 22m³. The demo unit has recently completed a 12 month on-thejob testing period in which it performed exceptionally well.

The smaller R920 excavator, on the other hand, is aimed at plant hire companies, an entirely different market. It carries a much larger bucket than competitor models which reduces fuel costs and increases productivity. In addition, the excavator’s


L i e b h e r r

A f r i c a

GMA Logistics ...is geared to deliver the goods across the Country… Around the World. A wholly owned South African enterprise, founded on the cornerstones of Service and Integrity and embracing the progressive philosophy of responsible and committed Black Empowerment. Fully operational offices in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Supported by an International network of agents, partners and associates. Every project consigned to GMA Logistics is handled personally and professionally.

reduced tail swing radius makes it particularly suitable for use in cramped areas like inner cities. On the other hand, the recently introduced R9200 launched by Liebherr-Africa’s Mining Division takes heavy loading to a new level. This world-class truck loading platform available in either backhoe and face shovel was designed to complement the broader Liebherr mining product range and work in tandem other machines supplied by the Company. This interoperability encourages companies to purchase exclusively from Liebherr and helps improve operational efficiency. The R9200 uses its 12.5m3 bucket (the largest in its class) to perform sustainably with

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peak fuel burn efficiency in even the most challenging conditions (another reason why it’s suitable for Africa). It’s designed to match trucks with a capacity of up to 140 tonnes, but can operate with much larger vehicles such as Liebherr’s 383-tonne capacity T282B mining truck. The R9200 is also equipped with Liebherr’s unique patented Litronic Plus power management system, enhancing electrical, mechanical and hydraulic power distribution during operation. Combined with a closed-loop hydraulic swing circuit, this classleading system means the R 9200 cycles faster and consumes less fuel without sacrifice. Efficiency is further enhanced through the use of the on-demand cooling control for both water and oil.

Our services include: • International Forwarding • Export Forwarding • Warehousing • Road Transport • Supply Chain Management • EDI Customs Clearing • Project Cargo • Distribution • Marine Insurance • Consulting We also cater for specialised service needs; Contact us for more information: T: +27 (0)31 337 5506 www.gmalogistics.co.za

Other new developments

As a whole, Liebherr has gained a reputation for consistent technological innovation and advances, and have helped develop a number of new products over the past five years, producing impressive productivity solutions and improvements. The Company focuses on adapting and enhancing product specifications according to customer needs.


Diversified

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L i e b h e r r

The Mixing Technology Division at Liebherr-Africa successfully launched the new DBP 60-M Mobile Dry Batch Plant at the Totally Concrete Expo held in Johannesburg on 23rd and 24th May 2017, allowing the company to now actively compete in the dry batch market. The DBP 60 – M, mounted on a road-legal trailer, requires only one horse for transport. The plant, which is capable of batching 60³ per hour, has 2-4 aggregate storage bins, electro-pneumatic discharge gates, and four vibration motors to ensure the free-fl ow of fi ne material.

Another new product comes from the Mobile Crane Division. In 2016, the Company launched the 5-axle LTM 1250-5.1, a massive mobile crane and one of the most powerful of its kind of the market. Appearing for the first time at the Bauma trade fair in Munich, the LTM 1250-5.1 is a single-engine crane, a concept unique to Liebherr, with a multi-functional folding jib (a 50m hydraulically adjustable fixed jib is available as well). This crane also includes specialist power-management and system balancing features such as the Liebherr VarioBase and ECOmode, improving fuel efficiency and safety.

A f r i c a

An automated future

Whatever developments Africa’s economy goes through, it’s impossible to deny that automation will play a major part. This presents a potentially serious problem for the continent’s developing economies, but also a major opportunity for its industrial development. Liebherr is at the forefront of these ongoing developments, working to provide its customers with tailor-made and technologically advanced solutions suitable for any environment or operation. Digitalisation, networking and electro-mobility are three additional technological megatrends for which Liebherr is developing innovative solutions in a wide variety of product areas. In June 2016, Liebherr presented a new system for its maritime products at the TOC Europe trade fair: LiDAT smartApp. Customers can use this system to analyse the process and performance data of their equipment in real time. This makes it possible to identify bottlenecks quickly and to make more efficient use of handling equipment. Development priorities in the company’s earthmoving and mining divisions also include projects in the areas of automation and autonomous machines, automated driving technologies, as well as driver and service assistance systems. The contribution made by Liebherr

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Diversified

to the digitisation of construction sites has been another major focus. One example of this is the newly introduced LiPOS system for the precise positioning of Liebherr deep-foundation machines on construction sites. This new software makes it possible to use existing plans and construction site data to produce even more realistic simulations of construction sites and lifting work using crawler cranes.

A service focus

Despite new innovations, good old-fashioned service remain a key focus of Liebherr-Africa in both support for customers and users of their equipment. It is this approach that has allowed the Company to tailor its products to local issues and stay ahead of the market by working with their customers to fi nd out what they really need. Liebherr aims to build up and maintain close cooperation with our customers and business associates over a period of years, sometimes even decades. The Company tries to respond quickly, flexibly and reliably to their needs. This close relationship with our customers and the high value that Liebherr attaches to innovative solutions and user benefits are one of the keys to our success. High quality products are explicitly not the end of the Company’s services – it also provides support throughout

the operational life of the equipment. Each division of the Company provides its clients and potential customers with advisory services to help determine which solutions may be right for their situation. Following a purchase, full after-sales support including inspection, maintenance, training, advice and repairs are also available.

The Company focuses on adapting and enhancing product specifications according to customer needs

Liebherr-Africa offers service agreements perfectly adapted to our machines and deployment situations. Speed and reliability are firmly anchored within these agreements. Short reaction times mean short downtimes. This has been acknowledged outside its customer base, too. In March 2017 Liebherr Africa’s Mining Division was awarded with a Service Excellence – Customer Support – 2 star level with a score of 89%. The Company’s goal remains to deliver exceptional service, while all the time adapting to meet the demands of an evershifting marketplace. Based on its recent performance, it is well placed to succeed.

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ERWAT

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Utilities

As one of the continent’s largest wastewater management firms, the East Rand Water Care Company (ERWAT) has a spoke challenging task. to managing director Tumelo Gopane about the innovation driving it forward.

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E R W A T

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RWAT, an example of a truly “homegrown” South African business, was established in 1992 as a Section 21 company, with shareholders including the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (its majority shareholder), Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality and Lesedi Local Municpality.

as a “hidden jewel”. Given that the firm services more than 3.5 million people, yet is far from a household name, there is a lot to be said for this statement, especially given the importance of ensuring safe and clean supplies of water to its customers. ERWAT is in fact the largest water management company in South Africa and has a claim towards being the largest in the developing world.

Managing director Tumelo Gopane describes his company

Gopane goes on to describe aspects of the company he

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“Managing director Tumelo Gopane describes his company as a “hidden jewel”.


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E R W A T

WEC Projects ERWAT - Leading the way. ERWAT is the first utility in Gauteng to implement the proven and innovative Nereda® technology. They have done so by increasing the capacity of the Hartebeestfontein WWTP by 5MLD in an ingenious retrofit application. This is an example of the innovative thinking that holds the key to unlocking the solutions to our country’s sewage treatment infrastructure backlog. The South African reality is that we no longer have the luxury of building plants without considering the optimal use of available land; Capital budgets are constrained; Energy costs are increasing rapidly annually and many of our rivers, streams and dams are polluted as a result of aging and overloaded treatment infrastructure. Nereda® is undoubtedly a compelling proposition when addressing these challenges

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particularly admires, having only joined ERWAT in September 2016 after many successful years in energy and utilities, in both the public and private sectors. “We have highly skilled scientists and engineers working for us, and we treat around 800 megalitres of water a day with various technologies. “Reusing and recycling water like this has not been very big in Africa or the developing world in general. The first world have been doing it for a while, but now we’re seeing the African continent and Latin America waking up to climate change and water shortages, which have never been seen at the levels they’re seen at now. It really feels

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“ERWAT Laboratory Services offers a wide variety of chemical and microbiological analysis services and provides expert advice on waterrelated problems, as well as client training on efficient water usage


E R W A T

like we have a role in saving the country, the continent and elsewhere.’’ Along with its nineteen processing plants, ERWAT also runs a dedicated research and development wing that develops new wastewater solutions for business clients. ERWAT Laboratory Services offers a wide variety of chemical and microbiological analysis services and provides expert advice on water-related problems, as well as client training on efficient water usage. “We are picking up our R&D – we are getting involved in a whole lot of academic and application research. We have also formed a technical forum, partnering with a company called IO that are based in the UK and help with in assessing technology.”

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A positive impact

Southern Africa has seen some severe droughts in the last couple of years, with endemic water shortages threatening the region’s food security. Gopane sees this as something of a wake-up call to many industries in the region. Indeed, it’s almost a positive as companies become more “water wise” and reduce the amount they use and waste they produce. There are also obvious downsides, however. “From a supplier’s point of view it is a negative impact, and we’re ultimately hoping to mitigate it,” he continues. “At the end of the day, if a business recycles 70% of its water it will need much less water and put that much less of a strain on low water reserves. South Africa is now one of the


E R W A T

best countries at treating waste water – maybe not to drinking qualities but to a very, very high standard. I believe South African standards on what must be reused are among the best in the world. “That means you don’t need much more processing to get the majority of our recycled water to drinking level – we’ll just need to add a few more steps to turn the fresh recycled water we produce into drinking water. That is a gap we will be filling going forwards.”

A sense of responsibility

“South Africa is now one of the best countries at treating waste water – maybe not to drinking qualities but to a very, very high standard. I believe South African standards on what must be reused are among the best in the world.

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Along with its environmental efforts, ERWAT also runs various corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes focused on providing opportunities to young people and helping communities live and raise awareness when it comes to the dangers of living close to waste water, as well as gaining some understanding of what a waste water management plant does and the impact it can have. Gopane explains that education is vital to ERWAT’s CSR ethos. “At the moment we operate awareness campaigns for communities living near our waste-water plans, as well as bringing school kids in to understand what is a waste water management plan and so forth. As these are often poor communities we are working with it’s vital that they are able


E R W A T

to recycle and save water, and have access to clean water. “This year and next year we will be taking in 400 learners and graduates and so forth for training and development, as well as education and awareness of our operations and the effects they have on their communities.”

New opportunites

While agriculture and private usage consume large quantities of water and produce large quantities of waste, there are more ambitious opportunities out there for the service ERWAT provides. For example, the company has just signed a contract with the

South African Department of Public Works, the organisation which overseas most of the country’s public infrastructural development. ERWAT will be managing waste water from military and correctional institutions, both housing a large number of individuals and producing significant amounts of waste. The company is also Limpopo province’s water board with its waste water treatment plans and maintenance, so its influence is increasingly felt throughout South Africa. Other industries have also become aware of what ERWAT can offer. With clients such as Heineken and Kellogg’s, it’s clear

that the food and beverage industry is starting to pay attention to waste water management. On an even larger scale however is the potential for moving into commodities processing, during which vast quantities of water are used and, in many cases, wasted. ERWAT is currently approaching mining and industrial clients who stand to benefit from water recycling, with a view towards expanding into this area: “We also will be moving into the mining industry, which is a massive industry across Africa. Then of course there’s also the manufacturers who use a lot of chemical and paints and so forth like ADP. We’ll be applying to do their waste water management, making sure that recycled waste water is ready to send to their plants across the country.”

Investing in excellence As Gopane explains, ERWAT’s future plans are focused on expanding the industry as a whole and providing vital jobs in water management to talented young people through a variety of means, from basic training to more high-tech solutions.

“In the long term we’ll be developing a training centre and a centre of excellence in waste water treatment. At the moment water treatment is not taught in universities in depth, so we will be putting together a training

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Utilities

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course developing process controllers, operators and other professionals. “We’re also developing an E-learning centre by the end of this year. This will be available to companies and individuals across Africa as there is a big need in continental Africa to train operators and process controllers. Everywhere is seeing water shortages, so we want to prepare the next generation of Africans to meet these challenges. We’ll be purchasing simulators and other software where you can model treatment plants, which means that people will be able to train from their own homes, wherever they are. That’s something we’re really excited about.” When it comes to training, new technology is adding new capabilities that will impact the company and the services it can offer. With plans towards purchasing simulators and complex software that models treatment plants, consulting and designing services will be enhanced. Potentially implemented by the end of the calendar, this is another development Gopane is particularly excited about.

Green drop certification

South Africa’s Green Drop certification is an initiative of the Department of Water and Sanitation, rewarding

excellence in the field of water treatment works. Understandably, this is something that ERWAT are keenly pursuing. The incentive-based regulation is a critical driver in improving wastewater management services, recognising not just competency but responsibility, to clients, communities and to the environment as a whole. ERWAT’s current performance monitoring is aligned with the certification system, motivated by the desire to have all of its wastewater treatment works (WWTW) achieve Green Drop status. In 2013 the company’s performance report stood at 83.61%, with three WWTWs receiving certification, including Hartebeestfontein WWTW, Waterval WWTW as well as Dekema WWTW, which has retained its Green Drop status since 2011.

Caring for the environment

The nature of ERWAT’s services put it centre stage when it comes to Africa’s environmental concerns. The company is commercially orientated, but as it puts it on its website, its business is “the management of the Earth’s most sensitive natural resource”. It stands to reason then that the company is committed, within its own operations, to protecting the environment by avoiding pollution of water sources such as groundwater and natural streams. Effluent, sludge and odours are managed to ensure water that is purified and environmentally safe. ERWAT’s management and board of directors are committed to the principles of continuous improvement, with measures including adequate workforce


TITANIUM PROJECTS

Striving for Excellence !

Established and Initiated in 1998 by Mr Veenesh Singh in the Construction, Earthworks and Waterworks Industry, Titanium Projects remain committed to progress, development and upliftment in all areas of the industry.

training, formal identification of risk factors, and co-operation with regulatory institutions all written into the daily activities at each plant and working in conjunction with its Green Drop certification aspirations.

“Then of course there’s also the manufacturers who use a lot of chemical and paints and so forth like ADP. We’ll be applying to do their waste water management, making sure that recycled waste water is ready to send to their plants across the country. C

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As we can see from ERWAT and its successes, even as Africa increasingly industrialises, innovators will be there to provide a service for, as well as capitalise on, the waste produced by others. With environmental and business concerns increasingly working hand-in-hand, ERWAT will surely soon be shedding its reputation of being a “hidden jewel”.

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Sizabantu w w w . s i z a b a n t u p i p i n g s y s t e m s . c o m

Piping Up All the clean water in the world means nothing if the infrastructure to deliver it isn’t in place. Cost effective, low maintenance, easily installed pipes and pumping stations are vital for the continued development of multiple industries including agriculture, industry and mining, as well as the supply of clean water to populations all over Africa. spoke with Donald Coleman from Sizabantu Piping Systems, about the company’s important role in providing this infrastructure.

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Manufacturing

Donald Coleman, Sizabantu Piping Systems

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izabantu’s history reads like a quintessential African success story. Founded in 2002 in KwaZulu Natal, the company quickly established itself as a supply and sales agent for Marley Pipe Systems, using this relationship as a springboard to open new operations both across South Africa and Africa as a whole. The company built a reputation for quality, competitive rates, excellent service and its ability to understand customer needs.

Consolidation

Sizabantu manufacture, sell and distribute plastic piping solutions for portable reticulations and bulk water supply lines. It also provides professional consultation and advice and assists with the construction and operation of pumping stations and other infrastructure.

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S i z a b a n t u

The company’s pipes supply a wide variety of purposes, including agricultural irrigation and industrial power generation, although the utility market is its focus, as Coleman explains: “One of our main focuses is on water utility infrastructure. Where water is conveyed in its raw state from dams, rivers or natural reservoirs, to water purification plants and is then redistributed as a potable water system to the towns and villages.” Sizabantu’s specific focus is on supplying appropriate technology plastic pipe solutions to its clearly defined target markets – a classic example of market niche exploitation.

“Sizabantu’s history reads like a quintessential African success story.

“Our industry players have gone through many changes of ownership and varied marketing strategies over the past years,” says Coleman. “This created a gap for us to fill, and soon the people in the industry recognized our expertise and experience in plastic pipe systems. Our philosophy and focus hasn’t changed for the past 15 years.”


S i z a b a n t u

Responsibility

The company is also keenly aware of social issues and social responsibility as a corporation. “We are an accredited BBBEE (Broad Based Black Employment Equity) supply company. The target procurement initiative was introduced by the South Africa Government in 2004 to encourage government, municipal and contractors to purchase materials from previously disadvantaged black-owned companies.

“Our contribution here starts with providing the most appropriate technology. We offer training on how to install our user-friendly products and ensure that we have the full roster of products needed to complete a project, offering a one stop shop supply solution. “In terms of our social program, we purposely outsource as many functions as we can, including transport and logistics, security, cleaning services and engineering. Our skills development program starts with

“Sizabantu’s specific focus is on supplying appropriate technology plastic pipe solutions to its clearly defined target markets – a classic example of market niche exploitation. financially assisting nominated employees with their commercial and or technical education at recognized institutes of learning. Professional consultants are contracted to mentor and train operators in our factory in various operational disciplines.

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Great companies have great tales to tell. With an established global reach, our editorial is read by senior executives, buyers, manufactures and other leading industry professionals. If you’d like to share your strory and bring your business closer to the people that matter, please contact us today. @EssentialBizMag

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S i z a b a n t u

“This has helped create an ownership culture and has been key to the positive energy and success of our business.

“So I think that’s our social responsibility side. Our business model is also based on ownership, though – so we offer ownership to our key personnel. They can become shareholders. That is partially responsible for our success – when you join our company and are a positive contributor we do offer shares in the business.” There’s more to this attitude than just good citizenship. This sort of inclusive staff-focused policy also helps with staff retention, recruitment and staff attitude, something that Coleman is keenly aware of. “Our choice of good people in the industry has been a real strength. It’s been organically grown rather than through

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acquisitions. This has helped create an ownership culture and has been key to the positive energy and success of our business.”

New developments

Sizabantu is particularly proud of its new factory in Richards Bay in KwaZulu Natal. Construction began in 2015, and the factory is the first manufacturing facility in Africa to produce Molecor Bi-axle Orientated TOM 500 PVC-O technology pipes. This has enabled plastic piping to enter the traditional metal market, where large diameter, high pressure units are required for bulk water applications. Sizabantu established a relationship with the Spanish company Molecor Canalziones


Manufacturing

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in 2013, which involved marketing and distributing its worldleading molecularly orientated PVC technology in Southern Africa. The rapid acceptance of this product in the market led Sizabantu and Molecor to form a joint manufacturing venture. “We were initially very cautious to just climb into manufacturing traditional plastic pipe commodities, which has its own set of problems. But when we were offered the license to manufacture this world leading technology product, this was the key to start our own manufacturing operation.” The factory is the first of its kind in Africa and the piping it produces is rapidly becoming the industry standard in South Africa, offering a range of piping from 50mm to 800mm in diameter and capable of handling pressure up PN 25 bar. It will provide new jobs for the Richard Bay industrial area, reducing the company’s reliance on import products and making it easier to locally source components and equipment for much needed water infrastructure development.

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Considering climate change

As climate change accelerates, South Africa and areas across sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly finding it vital to invest in water infrastructure both for agricultural and industrial purposes and for general civilian use. With droughts becoming more and more prevalent

“Without both effective transport and drainage solutions these industries may either grind to a halt or severely pollute the surrounding area. (Western Cape has borne the brunt of this recently in South Africa, and droughts are endemic across the continent) reliable low-cost infrastructure that can be easily installed and reliably used with little

maintenance may mean the difference between life and death for many communities. Water shortages and inefficient supply mechanisms also pose a problem for industrial development across Southern Africa. Mining, industry, power generation and particularly agriculture are highly waterintensive, requiring a steady water supply to operate. Without both effective transport and drainage solutions these industries may either grind to a halt or severely pollute the surrounding area. Sizabantu and Molecor’s piping factory is now producing this new technology locally and has built up a good case history of successful installation and operation throughout Africa. Coleman explains its advantages: “The product itself serves a definite need in Africa – that’s user-friendly plastic products which compete with metallic products. Metallic products require sophisticated installation equipment. The plastic


Manufacturing

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S i z a b a n t u

technology we supply fulfils the same function, but it’s much more user-friendly, cost effective, maintenance free and gives the engineer ‘peace of mind’ when specifying for emerging markets in Africa. “Simplicity, cost and ease of installation are confidence factors for the specifying consulting engineers, who favour this product for emerging contractors who don’t have easy access to sophisticated installation equipment.” The partnership with Molecor led to shared technological solutions that have enhanced Sizabantu’s production and design techniques. “PVC bi-axle technology or PVC-O, is changing the

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random molecular structure of the material to form a chain structure. This process doubles the strength of the material, giving it much stronger properties. This technology was developed some 30 odd years ago. “The international acceptance of PVC-O pipe in the market was hampered by some inherent problems with the integral jointing system of the pipe. PVC is a member of the thermoplastic family, which means it can be recycled and reshaped by applying energy. Thermoplastic is also known to have a memory. In other words, if energy is applied to a converted product and reshaped by applying heat, once it cools down it will remain in the new formed shape.

“However, if it is re-energized once again with heat, its memory kicks in, and the product will go back to its original converted shape. This was one of the challenges facing the bi-axle orientated PVC-O pipe industry, when the pipe was re-energizing to form a socket bell. The molecular structure wants to revert to its original random molecular construction. The Molecor technology has overcome this inherent problem, by orientating the pipe and socket in one process – so that’s really the trick in their technology.”

The three Cs

Sizabantu service not only the purchaser of its materials but all three parties involved with the piping system: the customer, consultant and contractor (a


Manufacturing

trio Coleman calls “the three Cs”). The importance of all three parties having their needs fully understood and the best solutions offered to meet them is only possible by ensuring a good relationships in each case, something which takes care, experience and expertise.

The company is also a member of the South African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA), a regulatory body which oversees reputable industry players and ensures that piping and materials are manufactured to an appropriate standard.

At present, Sizabantu has a good foot print with strategically placed divisions to service its markets. There are 10 offices across Southern Africa, including

Follow us: @SizabantuPS @sizabantupipingsystems

“The Molecor technology has overcome this inherent problem, by orientating the pipe and socket in one process – so that’s really the trick in their technology.

izabantu Piping Systems

Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West, Central, Kwa Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mozambique and Swaziland with an export division servicing Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The company has many plans and projects on the go for the future expansion to service subSaharan Africa.

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Invincible Valves w w w . i n v a l v e . c o . z a

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Manufacturing

Pam Du Plessis, Managing Director, Invincible Valves

Invincible Valves is a supplier of quality valves and ancillary equipment, working with customers worldwide. It was founded in 1982 and has supplied valves and equipment to mining, chemical and energy industry clients, as well as various forms of agricultural and environmentalist concerns. spoke to the managing director, Pam Du Plessis, about Invincible Valve’s position in the market.

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I n v i n c i b l e

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he African industrial valves market is large and growing, expected to reach more than $4 billion by 2021 and encompassing factories and producers across the continent. The industry feeds the large and growing oil and gas industries, particularly in Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria, and looks set to expand further as these economies diversify into other sectors. Major international companies including Flowserve, Pentair Ltd., Emerson Process Management

and the Weir Group operate in Africa as well, but local companies like Invincible Valves are beginning to develop as a viable alternative for industrial customers with the advantage of local knowledge and reduced shipping fees on its products.

A challenging era

Recent falls in the prices of commodities like oil and metals worldwide have been challenging for the industry. The oil price fall in particular has hammered economies like Nigeria’s where many of the valve industry’s biggest

V a l v e s

customers operate, and companies like Invincible Valves have had to branch out to new areas and industries to meet the shortfall in demand. Du Plessis explains: “We are entering into the fisheries markets, for example, and continue to run a reconditioning unit in our factory, so we can offer other services too, which also helps to save the customer’s costs. “It’s all part of our in-house vision. For example, we can rubber line to unique specifications,

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“local companies like Invincible Valves are beginning to develop as a viable alternative for industrial customers with the advantage of local knowledge and reduced shipping fees on its products.

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I n v i n c i b l e

and can recondition valves. We do general repairs on all valves we supply and only change out what needs to be replaced and recondition what can be salvages. We also have a technical facility, whereby we perform pressure testing on all our valves – new, reconditioned or rubber lined.”

This approach helps give Invincible Valves a major advantage. Due to its location being close to the businesses it serves, delivery times and costs are substantially reduced. In addition, being able to custommanufacture and design specialist valves and systems has given the company the flexibility

“Du Plessis is one of the few women in her field, but her tenure at Invincible Valves has been full of success stories, not least a number of prestigious awards.

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it needs to keep clients on board, and has allowed it to establish a reputation as a go-to company for custom products. While its core business model is simple and selfexplanatory, Invincible Valves goes above and beyond in the manufacture and distribution of high-quality industrial valves and fixtures. The business has a strong emphasis on building long term relationships with its customers and pursuing innovation and development over simple reselling. Despite both internal and governmental efforts to address the divide, women remain underrepresented in many African industries, including South African ones. Du Plessis is one of the few women in her field, but her tenure at Invincible Valves has been full of success stories, not least a number of prestigious awards. “I won a global award for Enterprising Woman of the Year for how I run Invincible Valves and how it operates, in the ‘Over $5 million and up to $10 million’ category, which took into account how I run the business, how we developed as a company and how successful our operations were.” She’s also keen to see more women join her in what can be a strongly maledominated industry.

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Manufacturing Bulk supplier to Stockists and Project Houses Contact: Tel: +27 11 849 8000 | Fax: +27 11 849 8007 | paul@metac.co.za

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Valves

Aluminium Extrusion

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Ball, Gate, Check, Globe, Butterfly, Diaphragm, Needle, Plug

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I n v i n c i b l e

V a l v e s

“We also run an intern programme within our business, if they are admin orientated, they will be able to start work at reception at Invincible and work their way up from there. They usually only stay there for a maximum of two years, and I can then employ them if I have a vision for them going forward. We have an intern programme in

“I believe that mining in on the up in South Africa and over the next couple of years you are going to find that the petrochemical market should start picking up in as well, so there’s room to expand and consolidate on our expansion once that happens. our workshop developing young adults from the local technical high schools also giving them the opportunity to obtain experience and further their education within our programme.”

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Manufacturing

The programme has produced a number of success stories, Du Plessis goes on to explain. “One of my administrators got started through it. Another one that was on reception is now a project coordinator, the last one that was on reception is now studying – she is doing accounting through UNISA. Currently we have 3 interns in the business on the programme and trust that they will run the full intern programme for the workshop and administration.”

representation in a number of countries. We are looking at the DRC, in fact we have already done a lot of business in the DRC and we are looking to put an agent into Zambia as well.” Du Plessis is hopeful about the future of African commodities. “In Africa, mining is recovering, for sure. I believe that mining is on the up in South Africa and over the next couple of years you are going to find that the petrochemical market should start picking up as well, so there’s room to expand and consolidate on our expansion that happens.” AV-DFC_01.pdfonce 1 07/06/2017 09:44:44

An international presence

Invincible Valves has been making inroads in countries outside its homeland in South Africa. Its supply chain already extends across the southern end of the continent, a product of the company’s decision to “shop local” wherever possible. Du Plessis outlined its current attempts to expand across borders. C

“We’re currently trying to open up markets in new regions, so we have representation in Ghana, we have representation in Zimbabwe, we have

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Proconics

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Manufacturing

Proconics is a South African-based multidisciplinary engineering company, and a vital cog keeping the country’s oil and gas industries running. From complex brownfield site renewal projects to community job creation and skill development, Proconics has worked across South Africa and as far afield as Qatar and Australia, partnering with the energy giant Sasol.

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elvin Jones’s introduction to Proconics was very similar to that of many other employees of the company. He worked for Proconics’ major client Sasol for around a decade on multiple projects, before being approached by the shareholders to take over as head. In the 7 years since he’s subsequently overseen the transition of the business from a founder-run, family business to a professionally managed company with a more corporate outlook.

– the relationship has provided an unparalleled training ground for the most technically demanding projects and programmes.

“A lot of the manner in which we function is very typical of an organisation of our size, but by necessity the internal business functions and structures are a lot more formal and developed today than they were seven years ago.”

Jones describes the bond as “parent-child, if you will. They taught us, raised us and then set us loose. We are proud of this relationship – as well as the value we can offer other operators.”

Although it has expanded its offering and market share significantly beyond servicing just Sasol, the important relationship between them still often defines Proconics. This is no disadvantage

“Although it has expanded its offering and market share significantly beyond servicing just Sasol, the important relationship often defines Proconics.

Proconics itself was born out of outsourcing technical execution from within the Sasol business. This created separate execution entities, of which Proconics was one. The technical skill base on which the company depends grew and developed under

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P r o c o n i c s

that initial incubation environment, but over the twentytwo years since the company has grown into a fully-fledged engineering powerhouse.

Essential support

Jones explains that Sasol “still represents about 70% of the company’s business – they are one of our major accounts – and the existence of the company is dependent upon doing a good job for them.” Sasol is South Africa’s largest petrochemical producer, and has a specific set of technical requirements which need to be met in order to function. Proconics’ focus is meeting those needs and standards, to deliver quality technical support, a goal

“Proconics’ focus is meeting those needs and standards, to deliver quality technical support, a goal which can only be met thanks to its uniquely qualified staff.

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which can only be met thanks to its uniquely qualified staff. “A lot of the professionals I have working for me have direct experience of doing projects within this complex and demanding environment. Most often they have had operational experience in heavy, hazardous industries before they join us. “The space in which we specialise is renewal and life-extension of complex facilities. So we do a lot of what huge operating companies, like Sasol or Eskom, consider to be small to medium projects. Small for a multinational is not small though and can often be tens or hundreds of millions of Rand. But I believe that while we are big enough to matter,

we remain small enough to care – and that differentiates us from other engineering companies that can deal with the complexity and scope we do.” Proconics also specialises in component recycling and replacement. When operators have a piece of equipment or technology which has reached the end of its life, and is either no longer supported by the technology provider or has just reached its natural obsolescence point, Proconics will have a solution. Jones tells us that “without exaggerating, in last year Proconics has executed an enormous number of renewal projects – 300 in the last 12 months.”

A stable niche

Proconics doesn’t just work for Sasol or within the petrochemical industry, however. The company also works with other commodity and commercial clients, with a wide variety of projects including safety and compliance audits, construction and installation of specialist machinery like medium voltage switchgear or emergency shutdown systems. Because of the unique supplyside nature of the South African petrochemicals market, which utilises coal and gas rather than oil as its feedstock, the business dynamics are different and somewhat decoupled from the international oil markets. Proconics has used this


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decoupling to its advantage, and by focusing on its unique value proposition and specialties the company successfully secured new clients and defended existing ones to weather a very lean period. Enabling growth through major shocks to the oil markets has required the company to be agile and innovative. “We did feel the impact of the transition of oil from north of 100 dollars a barrel to south of 50. That was hard. And because that required the operating companies to rejig their business models, we needed to find ways to support our partners, and find ways to extend the life of their facilities in more cost effective, efficient and innovative ways. “That had a major impact on the psyche of the company. This crazy has become the new normal – although there is a relative stability that has returned to the

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market as we have all adapted to life below $50. Helping companies extend the life of capital intensive operations is a bit insular or niche. These projects cannot wait indefinitely which helps us with stability.” One new area using the company’s services is renewable energy, where demand is high for engineers and engineering companies are expected to come up with innovative solutions. “If one looks at sustainability, in terms of the environment and the long term future of that, there’s the question of renewables. Proconics is involved in doing projects in the renewable space, and particularly around PV and how we can bring our current design experience to bear on what gets installed in that space.” Another big focus for Proconics is in supporting its operating

partners in meeting their everexpanding legislative obligations. Legislation like the Air Quality Act or safety standards for thermal processing units in South Africa have far-reaching repercussions for many operators, especially those using coal and gas. It involves technology migration and life extensions for existing equipment. Often it requires that facilities be retrofitted with new burner and emission monitoring technologies.

“Enabling growth through major shocks to the oil markets has required the company to be agile and innovative.


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the moment it’s pre-planning, legislative approval – and there’s not a lot of opportunity for us there at the moment.” The company has also identified other growth areas, particularly in non-traditional energy generation as well as expansion of its existing services. Jones concludes by telling us: “We have a big push into primary power and the production of power with the state entities. Strategically that’s likely to be our most significant opportunity for growth in the next twelve months.

This is all to do with being at the forefront of shifting attitudes in South African business, as Jones explains: “I think in terms of the South African landscape a lot about sustainability is about how we are supporting various agendas. Renewables: Yes. Emission standards and compliance: Yes. Transformation: Yes. “For us to remain sustainable for the next 20 years there’s societal redress which needs happen, and as a company we are fully committed to that. Technically, commercially and socially we are innovating and demonstrating value to our partners. We are remaining relevant.”

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Future projects

South Africa has high demand for natural gas, and some providers are looking into exploration of shale gas reserves. Proconics also sees an opportunity here, although Jones says that there are several hurdles to jump prior to this resource being properly exploited. “It’s a long way out I think – there’s the core capability of Proconics which is working with operators of critical infrastructure in terms of keeping them in business. Obviously in shale, once there is substantial infrastructure being put down and invested in there’s a lot of opportunity for our company to get involved. But at

“We continue to expand our service offering to our existing customers – specifically in offering brilliance and value in the disciplines adjacent to our traditional offering, like mechanical and piping. So we see ourselves growing off the back of our primary client too and assisting them with an ever increasing portion of their renewal roadmaps. Those are the two exciting growth opportunities for the next year.”

Follow us: @Proconics1 Proconics (Pty) Ltd Proconics


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last looked at O.R. Tambo International Airport in South Africa’s Gauteng province one year ago, covering the airport’s operations and the planned “aerotropolis” development surrounding it. One returns to see year on, what progress has been made.

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.R. Tambo International Airport is Africa’s largest and busiest airport, carrying 20 million passengers per year and more than 50% of South Africa’s total air traffic. Its last major expansion project was in 2009-2010 during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, with the opening of a new Central Terminal building. In 2015, The Ekurhuleni municipality announced plans to expand the airport into an “aerotropolis” as part of a massive program of urban infrastructure expansion and development. The plan calls

“In total, Gauteng Roads and Transport has been allocated R6.8 billion for transport improvements.

for around R300 billion to be allocated to turning the airport and its surrounding areas into a new CBD with shops, businesses and transportation infrastructure. The Gautrain network will be expanded to cover the surrounding area with a new network added onto the current O.R. Tambo/Sandton line, while new road infrastructure will also be added including South Africa’s first new road highway in forty years, the PWV15, which will reduce congestion and connect the Aerotropolis to other parts of South Africa. In total, Gauteng Roads and Transport has been allocated R6.8 billion for transport improvements. Once the aerotropolis project is complete it will allow O.R. Tambo to run and profit from air freight and cargo projects as well as its currently profitable passenger aircraft services. It will also help the region’s existing industrial base distribute its products faster and more widely without increasing road congestion, and create opportunities that will lead to rapid growth and redevelopment among its communities. The integrated infrastructure development will also include storm drains and IT network infrastructure to bring fibre internet to the region.

Growth of the aerotropolis

The concept of an aerotropolis sounds like 20th-century retro

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“In its modern form, however, the aerotropolis is an economic and commercial powerhouse, helping to provide just-intime goods and services to the surrounding communities.

goods that can be economically delivered by air freight.

futurism, calling back to utopian concepts of sky cities and airplane ownership that never took off in the modern day. In its modern form, however, the aerotropolis is an economic and commercial powerhouse, helping to provide just-intime goods and services to surrounding communities. Thanks to the fact that they provide a good transport link to the outside world and see large amounts of traffic from people passing through, many airports have developed shops,

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commercial buildings and storage warehouses around them as a natural consequence. In modern cities, airports have become major centres for urban economic activity and competitiveness, and aerotropolis programmes take advantage of this by providing optimal conditions for economic growth. They’re about more than just building shops and light industrial parks around airports – a true aerotropolis has transport links, connections to local and communities and shops selling a wide variety of international

There are some concerns that an aerotropolis is not a suitable development for a developing economy, given that the design relies on large amounts of spending from the airport authorities and the local government while also requiring large numbers of wealthy customers able to afford to travel to the aerotropolis and shop there. The Ekurhuleni aerotropolis’ planners, however, see advantages to such large-scale projects in developing countries, pointing out that one of the reasons many airports and surrounding areas tend to suffer from developmental bottlenecks and lack of capacity later on is a lack of early strategic planning. While O.R. Tambo is already a well-established airport, it has some nearby greenfield sites that can provide space to grow in the future, and is in a somewhat

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underdeveloped area ripe for expansion.

“If properly implemented, the Ekurhuleni/O.R. Tambo aerotropolis concept has the potential to bring solid economic benefits to the surrounding area and help support Gauteng’s already solid industrial and economic base.

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If properly implemented, the Ekurhuleni/O.R. Tambo aerotropolis concept has the potential to bring solid economic benefits to the surrounding area and help support Gauteng’s already solid industrial and economic base. The city’s mayor Mzwandile Masina was optimistic in a 2016 interview about the development plan’s prospects: “We have been presented with a proper plan. We have committed, through the mayor, to appoint a steering committee of MMCs and officials who will report monthly on the developments. The mayor instructed us to have a workable plan which will help track the developments of certain areas of the project.”

The aviation industry

The aerotropolis project will wither on the vine, however, if the airport at its heart isn’t providing a steady flow of passengers and freight. Some recent developments on this front have been positive. The African Union has announced that it wants to launch a single African air transport market by 2018, with more than forty countries as signatories to the plan. The single air transport market would standardise policies and regulations towards air transport throughout the continent, massively reducing the costs of air freight transport and passenger travel to boost tourism, economic growth and development. If successful, this plan could provide a vital boost for the air transport industry on which the O.R. Tambo development


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relies. African carriers have long been held back by the failure of many African countries to fully implement the Yamoussoukro Declaration, a series of proposed policies which would establish a single air transport market like that of the EU.

That said, with plans for capacity expansion underway and a strong management team in the form of ACSA (managers of nine airports and all three major African international hubs), there’s no good reason why the relationship between O.R. Tambo and its aerotropolis should fail. Like so many similar projects happening on the continent, things are being done differently, and Ekurhuleni should see the benefits soon, and for some time to come.

This meant that foreign carriers often dominate the African skies as they’re large enough to operate despite the increased costs and difficulties of flying in Africa. As a result of this, major African carriers like Nigeria Airways, Zambia Airways and Air Afrique have been liquidated and others struggle to survive, with less than 20% of African air traffic flown by African aircraft. African aviation may die out altogether if these plans are not implemented, leaving developments like O.R. Tambo at the mercy of foreign carriers.

Follow us: @ortambo_int @ortambointernational Airports Company South Africa

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Essential Business Magazine  

Issue 21

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