Panafrican Equipment Group has a unified vision to become the supplier and service provider of choice across Africa’s mining, construction and agriculture industries
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Since the Panafrican Group was founded in 1997 it has gone on to establish itself as a leader in the delivery of Komatsu, Wirtgen and AFCO equipment and aftersales support solutions across East and West Africa.
The Company has grown at a rapid rate over the years, truly taking off in 1999 when its first Tanzanian operations commenced at the Geita gold mine. With ever-growing confidence in Panafrican’s abilities it went onto work on the Uganda Oil Palm project in 2003, and shortly after in 2005 its Dar es Salaam offices opened.
“The projects we were working on began to grow in size and prominence and in 2008 we were awarded the Buzwagi gold mine maintenance and repair contract in Tanzania,” explains Jakes Luus, Operations Director at Panafrican Equipment Group. “In 2009 we were able to expand our West African operations, commencing in Ghana first and moving into Nigeria and Sierra Leone in 2011.
“Three years later with the implementation of the Wirtgen, Agriculture, Valtra and Challenger product lines, we were able to supply and support our customers with a vast variety of product ranges that covered agriculture, forestry, civil and infrastructure, construction, mining and many more sectors.”
In the present day the Company’s shared services are based in Dubai and its operating countries include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Within those areas Panafrican has created a structure with offices that comprise a full complement of service staff with the ability to support the equipment needs in the country.
“Within these various outlets we strive to understand our customers’ needs, enabling us to deliver fit-for-purpose, tailored solutions that will ensure higher productivity and performance,” Luus adds. “With the expertise we have gathered over the years in the industry, we are skilled in reducing the life of asset costs and costs of material movement which proves to be invaluable to customers.”
A large part of the Company’s expansion plans over the years has been to ensure it takes responsibility for the impact of its activities on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and the environment alike in all aspects of its operations.
Luus continues: “We have taken this obligation beyond statutory commitments, making moves to improve the quality of life for our employees and their families, as well as the local communities and society at large.
“Our vision is to be the supplier and service provider of choice for mining, construction and agriculture solutions, knowing that our values and actions to improve quality of life will aid this tremendously.
“At Panafrican our values ensure we are committed to providing our stakeholders with exceptional rates by acting with safety, integrity, respect, attention to detail and true accountability in all our actions. We have created a team that have fully embraced these strategies and philosophies that provide the foundations of our ability to continuously improve and change.”
When it comes to recruiting the right people for the job, the Company has based its recruitment in the relevant area in order to meet the country’s demands and project requirements.
Training then plays a critical factor in the development of employees, with the Panafrican training centre located in Nairobi, the Company is rapidly expanding as Luus goes onto explain: “We have tailor-made training programmes based specifically on our customers in specific areas to develop skill levels.
“The training centres we have set up also supply support for our in-house staff when it comes to keeping track of new developments, equipment models and technical skills development. Our training records are regularly updated in order to ensure our staff receive the required training to supply a professional service to our customers.”
During its time within the industry the Company has had many iconic moments, but perhaps the most pivotal came when it was awarded the maintenance and repair contract for Buzwagi mine in 2008.
“As with any large mining project, we encountered challenges,” explains Luus. “However, it was the manner in which we overcame them that made the difference, working hand-in-hand with the customer to enable the best possible results and find solutions to any issue.”
Another turning point for Panafrican came in 2011 with the beginning of its Nigerian operations, whereby the Company was able to deliver more than 300 pieces of Komatsu equipment to the Dangote Group and continue to support them now.
Luss states: “We are in the middle of some significant contract discussions at present and hope that they will lead to expansion across the continent in the future.
“Operating in East and West Africa is particularly challenging as there are various trends for each country, and each of those specific trends will have a drastic impact on the country of operation. We also have to take into account the political environment of each nation, especially with the unpredictability of elections and the interchanging governments which impact businesses such as ours.”
At present Panafrican is closely monitoring each country of operation on an individual basis, making any required business alignments to current market trends based on the customer demands and market information available at the time.
When it comes to procurement the Company has created a centralised service that is responsible, making use of key performance indicators (KPI) to keep track of the efficiencies of the activities and processes.
“We also use KPI to aid us in highlighting the areas where improvements are required within the Company, particularly when it comes to shortening our delivery times, easing shipping options or any opportunities for cost-saving exercises in the supply chain system,” continues Luus. “Linking in with this, we have our outstanding customer support systems which enable us to address any problems and quickly establish solutions.”
The Company works hand-in-hand with its customers in order to ensure that its business is conducted in the most efficient way possible, setting it at a cut above the rest in terms of the competition.
“In order to continue on with our success we will increase our market share in all business sectors, specifically equipment and agriculture divisions,” concludes Luus. “We also hope to obtain a selection of maintenance and repair contracts in different countries to our current coverage area, which is proving to be a very exiting time for us at Panafrican.”