Issue 80


Winning with WirelessRiaan Maree and his brother Jaco Maree founded WIRUlink with the vision to better connect South Africans. A decade on and that vision is well and truly realised  Writer: Tom Wadlow |  Project Manager: Sam Love Since my childhood I have been intrigued by all things related to technology. I started assembling, selling and repairing computers from the age of 12.“After finishing school, I went in full-time to look after the complete IT infrastructure for a few SMEs with anywhere between one and 50 computers. Working only on referrals, the company quickly grew to a stage where I had to employ more staff to keep on offering honest IT support services to the growing customer base.”Riaan Maree was destined to play a protagonist’s role in South Africa’s connectivity story.  “Service levels in South Africa are not up to standard and IT professionals are generally not business focused, and businesses and homes alike often have no internet or phone lines because of copper cable theft,” he continues.“I started testing long-range outdoor wireless equipment to keep our office online and not be impacted by cable theft. Soon our customers, businesses and homes asked if they could also get internet access and phones via wireless. This led us to realise that there is a massive demand for alternatives to ADSL.”Inspired to make a positive impact and set the standard for African IT leaders on how to conduct ethical business, the entrepreneur teamed up with his brother Jaco to form WIRUlink in 2009 after something of a eureka moment.Today

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Vharanani Properties

Building Happy CommunitiesOperating with a mission to restore people’s dignity through infrastructure development since 2001, Vharanani Properties continues to deliver high-end projects with collaboration and teamwork at heart Writer: Tom Wadlow |  Project Manager: Eddie Clinton Despite imperfections and shortcomings, South Africa’s policy of black economic empowerment has helped to shift the dynamics of the country’s post-apartheid socioeconomic backdrop.Stretching far beyond a moral redress, the policy is also a pragmatic growth strategy to help realise South Africa’s full economic potential by helping to bring the black majority into the economic mainstream.The process is by no means complete. However, many enterprising black-owned businesses have risen to the forefront of their industries, contributing to the economic development of regions nationwide and helping to uplift the communities they serve.In the construction arena, Vharanani Properties stands proud as a 100 percent black-owned success story.Set up in 2001 by David Mabilu, who still serves as CEO to this day, the company has built itself into one of South Africa’s premier infrastructure development specialists, covering roads and bridges, reservoirs, bulk earthworks, water infrastructure, schools, clinics, community centres, office buildings and more.And despite the well-documented troubles facing the nation’s building industry, Vharanani Properties has continued to stand tall. For instance, in 2018 it was recognised as the best performing black owned and managed construction company in South Africa.For current Operations Director Chris Mthombeni, the decision to come on board in 2017 represented a perfect marriage of passions.“I joined Vharanani Properties because I wanted to be part of a growing black owned company,” he says. “I

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Tilisi Developments

Infrastructure InspiredTilisi’s unique business model of building world class infrastructure and providing fully serviced land parcels for investors to purchase and develop is enabling the transformation of a promising suburban Kenyan plot  Writer: Jonathan Dyble  |  Project Manager: Eddie Clinton The green city in the sun; the safari capital of the world; Nai (for short). Nairobi has garnered numerous nicknames over the years, but arguably none is more telling of its current reputation than its newest alias –the Silicon Savannah.A monumental metropolis, the number of residents in the Kenyan capital has grown 40 percent in the past decade from 3.1 million to 4.4 million. And with that has come the city’s consolidated status as a crucial backbone of African business.Take the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD), for example. Its skyline is comparable with those of many major European, American and Asian cities, and it has become the regional hub of hundreds of multinationals including Coca-Cola, General Electric, IBM, Toyota, Nestlé, Standard Chartered Bank, Heineken, Blackberry and Cisco.Today, the capital accounts for 70 percent of Kenya’s wealth, and with an exponential growth trajectory that is continually accelerating, it has created a buzz that has extended into the surrounding suburban areas, evidenced by some particularly exciting real estate projects.Enter Tilisi Developments –an organisation heading up the multi-year development of a 400-acre site, named Tilisi, that can be found in a prime location against the backdrop of Limuru’s sprawling greenery, just 30 kilometres north of Nairobi’s CBD.“Tilisi is a project that immediately caught our eye,” states Kavit Shah, Tilisi Developments’

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Simba Group : Fit for Nigeria

How a simple idea to adapt a bicycle for local needs has transformed into a multifaceted, empowerment-driven conglomerate reaching all corners of the country.

Tom Wadlow Josh Hyland By Tom Wadlow Josh Hyland

Pharos Architects

The Sustainable PragmatistFor Andrew Gremley and Pharos Architects Ltd, sustainability must add practical and pragmatic value to a building, the firm pioneering a number of sustainable firsts in Kenya and South Sudan  Writer: Tom Wadlow |  Project Manager: Eddie Clinton Ask two people for their definition of sustainability and you will be lucky to receive identical, even similar answers.It is a term which, despite dictionary disputes, has managed to work its way into the daily dialogue and manoeuvrings of personal and working life, the need for individuals to live and corporations to act more ‘sustainably’ almost universally accepted.But differences of opinion, often within the same professional disciplines, remain.Take the architecture and building design trade. There are many internationally recognised standards such as LEED and EDGE which many aspire to, though how to get there is subject to a world of different approaches, priorities and attitudes.  “There are a lot of clichés bandied around about architects and sustainability, but our stance is what I would call a pragmatic approach to sustainability,” muses Andrew Gremley, Founder and co-Director of Nairobi-based Pharos Architects.  Involved in establishing the Kenyan Green Building Council, Gremley admits that sustainability is an inescapable consideration for architects on virtually all projects, the dialogue surrounding the subject ramping up immeasurably since he went into business in the 1990s.His main motivation for moving to Africa from the US was not environmental, however –rather, it was the opportunity to impact people.“I come from and studied in the United States and after graduation I ended up in a number of

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Kenya Wine Agencies Limited

Improving with AgeHaving passed the 50-year milestone, Kenya Wine Agencies Limited is investing in the future of the nation’s beverage industry, introducing new brands and empowering local communities  Writer: Tom Wadlow |  Project Manager: Matthew Selby Wine, it is believed, has been produced for at least 8,000 years.The evidence comes from Georgia, specifically a small rise of land just south of Tbilisi called Gadachrili Gora. Here, there is archaeological indication of large-scale winemaking which dates back to 6,000 BC.To say that wine has stood the test of time is something of an understatement, the industry projected to be worth around $424 billion by 2023 and currently growing at over five percent a year. In volume terms, 2018 was a record-breaking year, with 292.3 billion litres having been harvested all around the world.In Kenya, according to figures from industry event Wine East Africa covering 2014-2017, the industry is growing more than 20 times faster than the global average.Although constituting a tiny fraction of the region’s overall output (South Africa produced 960.2 million litres in 2018), Kenya is now producing more than seven million litres a year, which translates to around $85 million in revenue.Several factors are contributing to this upward trajectory. A growing middle-class population, increased product offerings and improved consumer awareness are major reasons why Kenyans are consuming more wine.“It is a great time to be in the industry,” comments Lina Githuka, Managing Director of Kenya Wine Agencies Limited (KWAL).“Most of the categories are enjoying high single digit to double-digit growth driven by a stable economy, a

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GAPP Architects & Urban Designers

The Architecture of CollaborationPeople lie front and centre to GAPP’s approach to architecture and urban planning, the South African firm working across borders having played a lead role in many of its home nation’s landmark buildingsWriter: Tom Wadlow |  Project Manager: Eddie Clinton The late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid once said that “architecture is really about wellbeing”.Reminding us of the impact a construct can have on any given individual’s life, Hadid’s observations reveal how the thought process behind an architect’s work stretches far beyond simply an assembly of materials to provide shelter.“I think that people want to feel good in a space… on the one hand it’s about shelter, but it’s also about pleasure,” she went on to say.For South Africa-based GAPP Architects & Urban Designers (GAPP), these words resonate particularly strongly.“GAPP considers people at the heart of its architectural ethic and is inspired to find thoughtful and reflective design solutions to complex needs,” explains Director Sarvin Naidoo.“The guiding aspiration for all our projects is to achieve sustainable, liveable, high quality and vibrant living environments. Our goal is to ensure that your project makes a positive contribution to the transformation, regeneration and rebuilding of our built environment.”Naidoo has been part of the GAPP leadership team since 2006, the firm built on 40 years of track record which has seen it rise to one of South Africa’s foremost legacy architecture and urban design players, its award-winning portfolio made up of some of the country’s most prestigious and high-end signature buildings.  A key differentiator? The ability to design, deliver

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Enza Construction

A South African Success StoryDespite operating in a difficult construction industry backdrop, Enza is making headway with a number of landmark projects, all the while contributing to black empowerment and social upliftment  Project Manager: Eddie Clinton South Africa, it seems, is starting to emerge from a turbulent period as far as its construction industry is concerned.While the numbers both in terms of GDP and building sector forecasts may not appear game-changing on first glance, they are at least beginning to point in the right direction.According to consultancy firm Mace, the country’s gross domestic product will grow by 1.5 percent in 2020, growth which will support South African constructors. The World Bank is less optimistic, cutting back its forecast to just under one percent because of ongoing electricity supply problems.In terms of construction output, growth in South Africa is set to accelerate to 1.6 percent this year, up from the 0.9 percent seen in 2019.Although this is still sluggish compared with the Sub-Saharan Africa regional average growth forecast of seven percent over the next two years, the figures still suggest that the sector is moving, albeit slowly, towards a healthier future.Key to this, according to Mace’s report, is what the government does next. It identifies three priorities as central to any improvement being facilitated – rooting out corruption, modernising state-owned enterprises and convincing investors that the country is stable.One company which has been and continues to be stable through a turbulent period is Enza Construction.Headquartered in Sandton and with roots stretching back four decades, the company has been

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Dangote Cement Ethiopia PLC

Building a Brighter FutureDangote Cement and its flagship Mugher plant have transformed Ethiopia’s construction capacity in the past half-decade, delivering 2.5 million tonnes of high-quality building materials to the local market every year Writer: Jonathan Dyble |  Project Manager: Josh Mann Economic diversification. Described by the World Bank as arguably the greatest challenge facing developing countries, small economies and landlocked nations that are primary commodity dependent, it is crucial to achieving sustained, job intensive and inclusive growth.For Ethiopia, such rings particularly true. Deemed the fastest expanding economy in the world after recording an annual GDP growth rate of almost 10 percent between 2008 and 2018, Africa’s third largest inland nation has been looking to consolidate on recent gains by bolstering its infrastructure and public and private offering.Danilo Trugillo, the Country Manager of Dangote Cement Ethiopia, explains: “To support Ethiopia’s strategic plans and ambitions, the government developed two Growth and Transformation Plans (GTPs), each lasting five years.“The first phase (2010-2015) focussed on agriculture development and support services including infrastructure preparations like human development, education, healthcare and banking. As a result, however, the country began spending millions of dollars on cement imports as local production could not sustain demand.“The turning point came in 2012 when the government called for a series of cement plants to be built locally, leading both national and foreign investors to construct new such facilities in different locations across the country.”Dangote Cement itself, Africa’s leading cement producer, was one such investor.Embracing the challenge and opportunity to make a critical contribution to Ethiopia’s sustained growth and development,

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Daffonchio Architects

The Qualitative ArchitectWith a hands-on approach to all projects, Daffonchio Architects is looking to expand its reach abroad as it continues to deliver landmark designs in Johannesburg and Cape Town Writer: Tom Wadlow |  Project Manager: Eddie Clinton Since I was a child, I have always been fascinated by construction and beautiful design,” muses Italian architect Enrico Daffonchio. “I was exposed to an architectural studio environment when I was 10 years old or so, when a friend’s dad who was an architect used to give us small tasks such as colouring up plans. “My decision to set up my own firm was therefore not a business decision, but rather a case of finding a path that I enjoyed very much. Being an entrepreneur rather than following a corporate career I think is just what suits me best.”In 1996 Daffonchio Architects was born. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, today its work covers not only its home city but also Cape Town, Dubai and Milan, the latter three combining to represent around 40 percent of its activities.  “Our home market is still tremendously exciting,” Daffonchio continues. “The Sub-Saharan Africa region is always more active than, say Europe, because so much infrastructure is still lacking. “I love the variety of opportunities that this region offers. The tourism sector provides opportunities to design more hedonistic projects, while the need for mass housing poses interesting challenges in sustainability and urban design. We are based in the Johannesburg-Pretoria area which is one of the world’s megacities, and this is very exciting, as urban regeneration opportunities are enormous

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BHL Group

Logistics Uplifted Specialising in the transportation of commodities via value-added services, an extensive fleet and expansive footprint, BHL Group is helping the SADEC region to blossom both socially and economically  Writer: Jonathan Dyble |  Project Manager: Lewis Bush In the grand scheme of history, the fact that many of us can say we have lived through two millennia is something of a sensation.The Gregorian calendar ticking over into 2000 was met with spectacular celebrations the world over, marking more than just another year but a global chance to make a fresh start, leave behind the mistakes of the previous century, and transition into a world of universal progress, openness and prosperity.In Southern Africa, this opportunity was wholeheartedly embraced.Between 2000 and 2008, real GDP for the region rose by 4.9 percent annually – more than twice the yearly economic growth seen in the 1980s and 1990s as regional construction boomed, retail flourished, investment blossomed, and telecommunications and banking thrived.In 2000, the GDP of Zambia was $3.6 billion. Yet, as of 2019, that figure has now risen to $32 billion.The IMF, South African politicians Thabo Mbeki and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chevron CEO David O’Reilly, US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil and celebrity campaigner Bono have all described this as the African century as a result.And, indeed, looking at this development trajectory, it is easy to see why.“The Southern African Development Community (SADEC) has tremendous growth potential,” declares Elrick De Klerk, CFO of BHL Group.“Since 2000, the sub-continent has experienced significant prosperity, and for Zambia – a distribution hub perfectly situated for operators

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Bamburi Cement Ltd

The Infrastructure EnablerWith best-in-class products, intuitive investments and crucial employee and community empowerment practices, LafargeHolcim’s Bamburi Cement in Kenya is striking the perfect balance between quality and sustainability  Writer: Jonathan Dyble  |  Project Manager: Josh MannIt is an industry that offers many opportunities for sustainable growth, but only if you have the right focus. The challenge is for organisations to pursue long term sustainability as opposed to short term targets. Ultimately, the winners will be the ones who get this right.”Seddiq Hassani is referring to Africa’s cement industry, a field that his company Bamburi Cement is thriving in.Part of LafargeHolcim, a group comprising an array of businesses that combined employ about 75,000 people across operating sites in 80 countries around the world, Bamburi is one of its operations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) regarded as the leading cement manufacturing and marketing company in the East African region.“We have operations in two countries – Kenya and Uganda,” explains Hassani, the company’s Managing Director.“In Uganda our cement subsidiary company runs as Hima Cement Ltd. In Kenya, meanwhile, Bamburi Special Products Ltd is our subsidiary involved in the manufacture of high-quality precast and ready-mix concrete products.“Our corporate headquarters are in Nairobi and cement plants in Nairobi and Mombasa, and our environmental arm Lafarge Eco Systems is based in Mombasa, from where it champions restoration, environmental conservation, education and awareness. It is also responsible to rehabilitating all Bamburi’s exhausted quarries.”So how has the Bamburi brand grown to become such a renowned player with a wide remit in the

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Aleem Manji Architects

Great Design Meets Great ServiceAleem Manjis Architects continues to take on ambitious developments in Kenya, remaining steadfast to its belief that every design must be backed by equally attentive service  Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Eddie Clinton “I wish I could say that I have always been interested in architecture, and along with it share some anecdote of the precise moment when I knew it was the profession for me.“Unfortunately, as opposed to me choosing architecture, I feel that in some way architecture chose me. As of the time when I had started my undergraduate degree, I can honestly say I still wasn’t aware of what architecture really was.“As a matter of fact, I seem to recall that that was the question I had posed in a full auditorium to the dean of the college, as he delivered his welcome speech to the first-year students. I’m not entirely sure if such a question had been posed before at a welcome speech, nor am I certain that it has not been posed since. Regardless, it served to highlight how truly unprepared I was for the tasks that lay ahead.”Some things, it seems, are just supposed to happen.Aleem Manji, orator of these opening words, talks honestly about his somewhat haphazard entry into the architecture profession, recalling his initial struggles to grasp the subject matter.Now Owner of highly successful Kenyan practice Aleem Manji Architects (AMA-Kenya), he looks back with fondness and realises, back then at least, that the ends were more important than the means to achieving them.“Slowly comprehension

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Absolute Pets : For the Love of Pets

Absolute Pets is South Africa’s champion of pet care, its rapidly expanding network of stores offers essential products and services for treasured animals across the country.

Editor Josh Hyland By Editor Josh Hyland

Expert Eye: A look at the prospects for inclusive finance in Africa

An analysis of The The Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Microscope Report, by Monica Ballesteros

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How Standard Chartered is leading the war on wildlife crime

Standard Chartered's Southern Africa CEO Jerry Kweku Bedu-Addo is determined to win the war on wildlife crime, leveraging the power of the company to hit criminals where it hurts the most – their bank accounts

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Q&A with Marta Krupinska, Head of Google for Startups UK

Google is leveraging its knowledge and resource base to empower startup enterprise across the African continent, its dedicated startup division serving as a vital facilitator

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What trends will be shaping the African travel sector?

Africa looks set to capitalise on a range of global trends ranging from transformational travel experiences to bleisure tourism

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