Building a Better Zambia
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Joe Palliser
After opening a new branch in Kitwe in September, 2015, Good Time Steel (GTS) Zambia has been widening its geographic reach and expanding its facilities in order to provide an increasingly diverse range of steel products to copper belt clients and Zambia’s eight neighbouring countries in the most efficient and flexible way possible.
Commencing production from a greenfield factory in January, 2008, GTS has become the second largest steel-producing Company, now equipped with a 40,000 square metre workshop facility situated in Lusaka’s heavy industrial area on Mungwi Road. GTS was formed to fill a gap in the market and represents one of the biggest privately-owned Chinese investors in Zambia today, having spent more than US$100 million on its continuous improvement to date.
“Since inception, we have established an impeccable record in the manufacture of reinforced steel for the construction industry, providing a reliable service backed by our reputation among the most recognised and well-known leaders across the construction industry,” says Jacky Huang, Managing Director of Good Time Steel Zambia.
In the past two years, GTS has commissioned two plants in a bid to increase its product range and capacities to more than 6,000 tonnes per month, compared to 3,000 tonnes per month previously. “Off the back of our expansion success, we were able to extend our product range into tubes, steel plates, roof sheets, lip channels, galvanised pipes and any other steel fabrication products that a project may require such as window and door frames,” he adds.
Investing significant portions of its profits back into the business has strengthened GTS’s reputation as a one-stop shop manufacturer, distributor and wholesaler of steel products, all certified by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS). With plans to grow its reach even further, both in terms of industry sector and geographic reach, GTS is now targeting the equivalent qualification in South Africa, in order to be able to better support the two governments in their efforts to construct further hospitals and schools.
In recent years, GTS has taken advantage of Zambia’s landlocked position to export to its surrounding eight neighbours including Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and the Great Lakes region. “This has been possible thanks to the government’s focus on creating cross-border partnerships, which has been a crucial contributor to Zambia’s economic growth. Based on the success we have seen from the new Kitwe branch, we are to open a branch in Kasumbalesa near the border of DRC in 2016, designed to improve our flexibility in terms of our cross-border pricing and logistics offering,” he further highlights.
Additionally, GTS is to invest US$5 million in a new smelting plant that will increase its smelting capacity by 60,000 tonnes. “Our continued focus towards product improvement and consistent high quality will ultimately result in a long-term gain that reduces total cost of ownership in terms of our investments in machinery.”
Representing more than half of Zambia’s steel production, GTS has always placed a concerted focus on its labour force and has been recognised as a leading employer in the industry. Its current workforce of 600 Zambians is complemented by around 50 Chinese expats who are engaged in skills sharing and continuous training to keep the GTS operations running as smoothly as possible.
Huang emphasises: “We have some of the best technicians and most skilled workers in Zambia’s steel sector, demonstrating professionalism on every level so as to provide the most efficient production levels and customer service.
“Moreover, we always give priority to local people when there is a vacancy, which forms part of our long-term plan to maintain a 90 percent local, multi-skilled workforce and an attractive job proposition through maintaining a flat organisational structure.”
This local focus extends to GTS’s supply chain, which represents more than 70 percent as Huang further explains: “We work alongside our local partners, imparting training and expertise of benefit to their own company development, as well as offering financial support. By helping them, we strengthen local businesses.”
Further supporting the Company’s prestigious local reputation is its aspiration for the best health, safety and environment policy in Zambia’s steel industry; proudly adhering to the laws and regulations of the country to promote sustainable practices, job creation and economic development.
Driving core competencies
Equipped with country-leading facilities and a technically-minded local workforce, GTS is keen to continue to grow its products and services in line with changing industry demands.
Huang says: “Our long-term plan is to become the leading steel provider in Southern and Central Africa. To achieve this, we will continue to invest in new technology, building a local team influenced by international expertise. We will keep widening our product range and provide the best service levels possible to satisfy clients’ needs.”
He concludes: “The new smelting plant is currently on course for completion on-time, and the DRC branch near the border will round-up our current round of investments; allowing us to focus on driving our core operational and production competencies while looking for new investor partnerships to help us continue to overcome economic and industry challenges.”