Latest 73 Corporate Stories

Astrol Petroleum 2019

Fuelling Enterprise and Empowerment  Operating in an ever-competitive downstream petroleum market, Kenya’s Astrol Petroleum prides itself on quality, service and integrity to stand out from the crowd  Writer: Tom Wadlow  |  Project Manager: Ben Weaver Kenya’s petroleum market is an increasingly busy one.  Promising discoveries made in the northern region of Turkana have led to investment in crude oil production and export facilities, activity which could be underway by 2021, while construction of the 450-kilometre, $476.6 million Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline was completed in 2018.   The latter is a much-needed breakthrough which, once commissioning is complete, will replace the Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline that has been in operation for 40 years.  Although the Turkana deposits are slated for export only, such developments are cause for optimism among Kenya’s petroleum players.   A market historically dominated by foreign multinationals, the country is a net importer of petroleum products, making the ability to differentiate of paramount importance in what is a crowded industry.   This is especially the case for native independent enterprises such as Astrol Petroleum.   Specialising in the supply and distribution of products in Kenya via its network of filling stations, the company serves motorists, agribusinesses, power stations and industrial manufacturers around the country.   “This is not an industry for the faint-hearted,” says James Mwangi, the organisation’s Managing Director. “It is an extremely competitive field thanks to the open tender system in place, and around a hundred companies are involved in bidding for the importation of fuel.   “This makes for a fast-moving, vibrant market and the discovery of oil in the north is

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Water Utilities Corporation Botswana

Water Turned Welfare Through 800 boreholes, 3,700 employees and 500,000 connections, WUC is serving 2.5 million people across Botswana   Writer: Jonathan Dyble  |  Project Manager: Ben Weaver Water is unquestionably the world’s most precious resource. Without it, life on earth would simply cease to exist.  Farmers need it to grow crops; factories rely on it within their production cycles; and our domestic quality of life, from cooking to hygiene, has become substantially dependent on access to clean, safe water.  It is a dejected reality, therefore, that the latter is simply not available to almost one billion people globally – people who are faced with an amalgamation of risks related to drinking contaminated water every day.  This is not to say that it is an unsolvable problem, however.   Botswana, for example, is one country that has a fantastic track record in overcoming the prevalent challenge of water scarcity.  “Botswana covers an area about the same size as France,” reveals Mmetla Masire. “It is a country that is semi-arid with large desert areas and has been impacted negatively by climate change. Yet, despite these challenges, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) is able to provide water utility services to 2.5 million people, almost the entire population of the country.”  A parastatal business, WUC had spent the vast majority of its 50-year history (up to 2009) delivering water to customers in cities and large towns and to local authorities that was then distributed directly to customers in villages.   “And it was indeed a very profitable model,” adds Masire, whose tenure in the office

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United Millers

Feeding the Future United Millers is catering to Kenya’s growing population by producing quality foodstuffs and supporting local farmers, the company now seeking to expand its range and reach   Writer: Tom Wadlow  |  Project Manager: Lewis Bush Lake Victoria – one of the African Great Lakes named by explorer John Hanning Speke who became the first Briton to document it in 1858.   The largest lake in Africa and chief reservoir of the Nile, it was the source of this river that Speke was trying to find when he discovered the 68,000-square-kilomotere basin. Much of it lies in Uganda, and the city of Kisumu represents an important port location for transport, tourism and other commercial endeavours.   It is here where Sunil Shah decided to set up food manufacturer United Millers in 1977.   Identifying not only a business opportunity but a growing need for the community and country, the now MD explains: “Kisumu is the third-largest town in Kenya, and there was no modern milling facility in the lake region back then.   “Also, the demand for flour and other products was increasing due to a rising population, and this inspired me to start United Millers. We celebrate 42 years this October – it has been a tough journey and has required constant focus and attention, but it has been extremely rewarding.”  Speaking about Kenya’s wider modernisation, Shah adds: “Industrialisation is continuing but not at the pace we saw in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.   “This is partly due to a growing number of imported products coming in from places such

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Uganda Railways Corporation

Reviving Railways Uganda Railways Corporation is relaunching passenger and freight routes in a bid to revitalise a once forgotten form of transport    Writer: Tom Wadlow  |  Project Manager: Josh Mann Trains are starting to bounce back in Uganda.   Playing second fiddle to heavily favoured highways over the course of 20-plus years, the country’s rail network is embarking on a revitalisation journey having previously received just two percent of transport funding.    And there is abundant opportunity to make a quick impact. Uganda’s total developed rail network covers 1,250 kilometres, but only 265 kilometres are currently serviceable due to abandonment or closure.   Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) is in charge of the ambitious revamping exercise, the Corporation currently home to 14 locomotives, 1,317 freight wagons and 15 passenger coaches.   For Managing Director Charles Kateeba, it is an opportunity to fast-track development of an industry he has long held a passion for.   “It all started from my love of manufacturing and engineering,” he recalls. “When I was doing my degree at the Zaporozhye Machine Building Institute in Ukraine, I discovered that Uganda had contracted a German company to set up a modern central railway workshop.   “I thought it would give me an opportunity to apply my knowledge and skills in the process of railway maintenance, including general overhauls and rebuilds, upgrades and possible new equipment assembly or manufacture.   “Therefore, on completion of my course, I applied for a job and I was taken on as a Trainee Production Engineer in 1984. I grew through the ranks to become Managing Director in 2013.” 

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RMD Kwikform 2019

Supporting the New Generation RMD Kwikform represents a new breed of resilient, reliable and robust supplier to South Africa’s construction industry, evidenced by results on the ground and new thought leadership activity   Writer: Tom Wadlow  |  Project Manager: Eddie Clinton “Our country has massive potential. We are a diverse nation, rich in natural resources, strategically positioned on the globe and home to breathtaking nature.”   Dirk Odendaal is a stout optimist. Based in Centurion and Director of the South African division of global construction industry supplier RMD Kiwkform, he recognises the urgent need for the nation to start building again.    “In order to take this country to its full potential infrastructure needs to be developed,” Odendaal continues, speaking a year on from his last conversation with Africa Outlook. “As a supplier of formwork and scaffolding solutions, RMD Kwikform offers an opportunity to be directly involved in South Africa’s growth.  “But this will be a long-term process, as our construction industry is wounded. Large construction companies are facing penalties imposed on them following collusive actions stemming from the 2010 FIFA World Cup infrastructure development, and some will not survive.  “As a result, the government had to focus on maintenance of infrastructure as opposed to new development – only the absolutely necessary and highest priority projects are currently going ahead.”  While the construction sector establishment continues to face strong headwinds, the opportunity for a new generation of contractors and suppliers has emerged, which is the root of Odendaal’s optimistic outlook.   “RMD has been quick to respond to our external environment and

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Pindulo VDM

nder an adventurous leadership team, Pindulo VDM is building on a rich heritage by providing an integrated supply chain solution for clients across the length and breadth of South Africa

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Orange Sierra Leone : Connecting Communities

Globally renowned telco Orange has been present in Sierra Leone for just three years, yet it has already firmly stamped an innovative footprint on the country and its telecoms industry

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Diasporic Empowerment 10 years in the making, Mukuru has risen from a small concept African startup into a mobile money marvel of migration   Writer: Jonathan Dyble  |  Project Manager: Sam Love “The hyperinflation period endured by Zimbabwe in 2008 and 2009 witnessed many people outside the country attempting to send money home to loved ones, a process that was characterised by a lot of friction at every step.  “There were swathes of Zimbabweans on the African continent who had sacrificed an immense amount personally to join the diaspora in search of economic opportunities; who were looking for a safe, convenient, simple and quick way to remit funds home to their family and friends.  “Given that they often had limited access to formal financial services, were structurally under-serviced and/or unbanked, they often had to resort to informal methods of sending money home that were unregulated, lacked transparency in terms of price and speed and had a lot of opportunity cost. They often had to take days off work and incur costs in getting to a central point to pay in cash, challenges that were then mirrored by their recipients.  What Andy Jury is referring to is the backstory behind Mukuru.  “Our founders were in this same boat,” he adds, “and what started out as a desire to iron out personal wrinkles, in getting money home to their friends and family, morphed into a realisation that there was a massive business opportunity if we could build a simple, secure, rapid means of affordably being able to send money.”  A remittances-led

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Mabiza Resources

A Nous for Nickel Owed to extensive feasibility studies and continual investment, Mabiza Resources Ltd is edging ever closer to capitalising on the prize that is the Munali Nickel Mine   Writer:  Jonathan Dyble  |  Project Manager: Donovan Smith “Zambia for a long time has been talking about diversification away from copper mining. It’s what we should be doing as a mineral rich country; the mines here have been in operation since the early 1900s and are now reaching exhaustion.   “It’s time to take a risk and plunge into something different, something more exciting.”  A career in mining wasn’t the original plan for Matthew Banda, the voice behind the opening statement.  Having been accepted by the University of Zambia to study engineering, chance had it that his roommate had opted for the same path and subject area but was honing his niche specifically for the mining sector. With 24-seven access to his roommate’s books, Banda quickly developed a keen interest in mining engineering, laying the foundations for an illustrious, prolonged career.  “That was 26 years ago now, and I can safely say that I have no regrets in selecting this vocation as my career of choice,” he affirms. “The journey has not been easy, but I have more than enjoyed the vast majority of it.”   The latter half of this quarter century has seen Banda remain stationed 80 kilometres south of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, initially having joined Albidion Zambia Limited (AZL) in 2007 as a senior engineer during the development of Munali Nickel Mine.   “I was part

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Linkage Assurance

Awakening an Industry Offering first-class, modern, bespoke indemnity products, Linkage Assurance is tapping into the vast potential of Nigeria’s insurance market   Writer: Jonathan Dyble  |  Project Manager: Sam Love Africa’s insurance market has been described as a sleeping giant for the majority of the 21st century. In more recent times, however, indications have begun to arise which suggest that the true potential of the industry is starting to stir.   A relatively stable economic environment, rising disposable incomes, a young population and an expanding middle class are all factors contributing towards the rising uptake of insurance in Africa. And while there is still a long way to go, it is undoubted that a wave of confidence is sweeping across the sector, evidenced by a closer look at Nigeria.  “I am quite optimistic about the direction of the Nigerian insurance industry,” states Daniel Braie, the Managing Director and CEO of Linkage Assurance.  “Indeed, the penetration level of Nigerian insurance is still below one percent, and when compared with other markets it is a far cry of the potentials that are abound, especially in the retail market.  “Yet there are a number of country-wide efforts geared towards increasing uptake in the form of strategic global partnerships, active public-private collaboration, the introduction of compulsory classes, and other plans which seek to improve the knowledge gap.”  The retail roadmap  A company that has been an ever-present provider in Nigerian insurance since its inception in 1991, Linkage Assurance has established a truly extensive portfolio of bespoke products.   These range from conventional insurance products to

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