Issue 04

Tanganda Tea Company

What a beau-tea Tanganda Tea Company Limited is the largest producer, packer and distributor of tea products in Zimbabwe. Writer Ian Armitage Project manager Eleanor Watson Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. It is also responsible for the fortunes of the Tanganda Tea Company, Zimbabwe's biggest tea grower and producer. It is the bestselling brand of tea in the country and Central Africa and it exports bulk tea leaves all over the world. But, with Tanganda, tea isn't the only kid in town. The past few years have been tough for the trade. Sure there is always a huge demand for tea but low prices have been prevailing on the world market. This has seen Tanganda diversify into new crops – coffee, avocado and macadamia nut farming in particular - to increase earnings. "Tea is still today a fairly marginal crop," says Tim Fennell, managing director of Tanganda Tea Estates. Tanganda owns and operates five estates covering 2,600 hectares of tea, with additional land being developed for the new crops. The Group is divided into two main operating divisions - Agricultural and Beverage. Fennell says it will put several hundred hectares under macadamia nuts, avocados and coffee. "We identified those three as the best and most complimentary crops," he explains. "They are much more profitable and have the added advantage of being less labour intensive and have a much lower water requirement per hectare. "We do have areas under tea that are not particularly suitable from a terrain and


We're cleaning up! With over 650 clients in KwaZulu-Natal, SuperClean is one of the most successful privately owned commercial cleaning companies in South Africa. Writer Ian Armitage Project manager Eddie Clinton There are those companies that simply ride the wave of growth of their particular market or industry. When the industry grows, they grow, and when the industry declines, they decline. Others don't want to be constantly tied into the success or failure of the market they sell into. They diversify. They want to avoid the catastrophic consequences of a decline in their industry. But it can be a risky strategy. Business owners must be able to focus on their new ventures without neglecting their core business, yet in trying to control everything, they risk spreading things too thinly. Some firms however have been remarkably successful in the diversification stakes, spotting and exploiting new market opportunities for their products, using their skills to offer services that complement their core business or simply taking their brands into uncharted territory. One such firm is KZN-based SuperClean. It is one of the most successful privately owned commercial cleaning companies in South Africa and since inception in 1988 has grown to employ 3,800 people who service a large amount of KZN's leading companies and organisations. "It has been a very successful last 12 months," explains Joel Berger, the firm's financial manager, when asked how the business is performing in this, its 25th year. "We have grown at a rate higher than 10 percent throughout the recession and have taken on

Broll Property Services Nigeria : Invest in Nigeria!

Erejuwa Gbadebo, CEO of Broll Property Services Nigeria, discusses the “huge potential” of the country’s property industry.

Peri Southern Africa

PERI targets Africa Since May last year, Theunis Visser, Head of Business Development at PERI Southern Africa, has been heading the company's moves into the continent and he loves it.. Writer Ian Armitage Project manager Stuart Shirra A leading German supplier of formwork and scaffolding systems, with its South African subsidiary headquarters in Stellenbosch, PERI delivers to its customers a broad range of services related to formwork and scaffolding technology. PERI was honoured last year for the third time running with the Golden Arrow Award from the South African Professional Management Review (PMR Africa) publication as the best supplier in the Formwork and Bricks supplier category. The company is looking to expand. With numerous branches across South Africa and operating entities in neighbours Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique, Visser's brief was to look further for opportunities with his appointment covering all sub- Saharan countries aside from those already mentioned. And after an exceedingly busy year the firm is actively exploring "a partnership agreement in East Africa" and has "various other partnership offers and opportunities in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Rwanda and in the DRC". PERI Southern Africa carefully planned its African expansion, approaching each county with a PERI Sales Strategy, making the company known through personal contact with construction companies as well as involvement in a trade fair or show and getting updates on specific major projects in the region. "First we will take part as a sponsor and make contact with contractors and professionals involved in construction and from there we develop those contacts into future

Bophelong Construction

Taking the high road Africa Outlook talks to James Popper, CEO of Bophelong Construction, a South African BEE roads, civils and earthworks company. Writer Ian Armitage Project manager Stuart Shirra Randburg-based Bophelong has an impressive number of completed projects in its portfolio, mostly in Gauteng. Ongoing projects include the upgrade of Allandale Road, work with the SA National Road Agency Limited (Sanral), and several maintenance contracts in both the public and private sector. "We are a medium sized civil engineering company turning over about R250 million to R300 million per annum," says CEO James Popper. "We cover everything from road works – including road maintenance, earthworks and project management – to the installation of municipal services, sewer, water, minor concrete works and building works. "Through partnering with industry associates, we can also offer a full turnkey design and construction service, providing the perfect solution for any construction project. " The Allandale Road project is one of Bophelong's most high profile contracts. Its task is to address traffic congestion issues on what is a very busy road. It's going well and will soon be completed. "The work is part of the Waterfall Development in Midrand, which is a huge property development. The contract value is in the order of R43 million. We have been upgrading, re-grading the vertical alignment, widening the road, constructing a new intersection and relocating a bulk water line. It is a big project. "We also have had a lot of work come in from Sasol. We have three contracts, maintenance-type contracts." Popper says

Medhold Medical

Prognosis for growth Turning 25 years old is always a special occasion, but Matthew Stephens, CEO of Johannesburg-based Medhold Medical, is even more excited about what the next ten years will hold. Writer Ian Armitage Project manager Eddie Clinton Johannesburg-based Medhold Medical is a leader in the Healthcare Device Industry. Part of the Medhold Group, it has been in business for 25 years and is expanding into SADC countries – with its latest outreach to Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is also repositioning itself for South Africa's coming National Health Insurance scheme "which is being rolled out over the next 10 to 12 years," CEO Matthew Stephens says. "Medhold will focus on supporting the state sector as government builds its hospital infrastructure, healthcare professionals, as well as working with the private hospital groups too," he explains. With over 20 years of experience in partnering with leading healthcare device suppliers in South Africa – of products ranging from life support equipment, such as anaesthesia machines and ICU ventilators to diathermy plates – Medhold is poised to increase its African expansion. A member of staff since 1996, Stephens notes a number of highlights, including its management buyout in 1998 when the business was "really, really small". There was a commitment from management and staff which helped to turn the business around and they went on to make a number of acquisitions between 2004 and 2007. BBBEE (broad-based black economic empowerment) with its yearly audits has been an interesting challenge – Medhold has a rating of four - as well

Hersol Manufacturing Laboratories

Invest for success A programme of continuous improvement and investment is paying off at Hersol Manufacturing Laboratories, one of South Africa's leading pharmaceutical contract manufacturing companies. Writer Ian Armitage Project manager Eddie Clinton Hersol Manufacturing Laboratories is a fully licensed and registered pharmaceutical manufacturing company founded in 1980. The firm was established by Laurence Solomons and Sam Hertzkowitz and, thanks to a programme of continuous improvement and investment, is today one of South Africa's leading pharmaceutical contract manufacturing companies, specialising in the development and manufacture of complementary medicines, nutritional supplements and pharmaceuticals. 2012 was a good year for the Jeppestown, Johannesburg-based company, whose 70 year old manufacturing facility complies withthe Medicine Control Council (MCC) Code of Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) – making it standout in a highly competitive field. Hersol has a full pharmaceutical manufacturing license, re-assessed regularly by the South African Medicine Control Council. "In our sector of the pharmaceutical industry – complementary and alternative medicinal products (CAMS) – business has been excellent for 18 months," says Managing Director André Buhrlen. Indeed it has. Volume rose by 38 percent last year and has remained "solid" so far this year. Cash flow has improved dramatically too, allowing Hersol to bring forward upgrade plans and acquire additional equipment needed to cope with the volume increases. However, despite the excellent performance, a significant challenge continues to loom over the company. That challenge is pharmaceutical regulations for CAMS products. "It is an unknown factor," Buhrlen explains. "This means there are different standards of manufacturing and this creates uneven playing

Davis & Shirtliff : Taking the Lead

Africa Outlook talks to Alec Davis, CEO of Kenya’s Davis & Shirtliff, a firm that has been rapidly expanding its horizons across the region.

Clean Power Systems

Smart, clean power Clean Power Systems provides cost effective, clean power products that reduce operating expenses for mobile networks. Writer Ian Armitage Project manager Ben Weaver Africa is one of the fastest growing markets for mobile providers. According to research by the UK's Informa Telecoms & Media, the continent has now, in fact, achieved status as the world's second-largest mobile market. There are more than 760 million mobile subscribers and with market penetration around 68 percent, there is still plenty of room for growth. In just four years, Informa believes Africa could have as many as 1.19 billion mobile subscribers. U.S.- headquartered Clean Power Systems (CPS) -- a firm with a fast-growing presence in Africa -- is currently providing clean and reliable energy services and products to the industry. "Clean Power Systems provides cost effective, clean power products that reduce operating expenses for mobile networks by over 60 percent," says William Bubenicek, Managing Director of Clean Power Systems. CPS provides "end-to-end power solutions" and there is "vast potential" for the business in a continent that "carries high operating expenses" and often has serious power problems. "Because mobile networks must maintain 99 percent reliable power for cell towers, the emerging market networks rely primarily on diesel generators to power their cell towers," Bubenicek explains. "We utilise our software products to effectively capture data, system design, and implementation planning. Our focus is on standardising the methodology to allow for high volume implementation and allowing cost saving benefits to be achieved rapidly. The bottom line is that CPS provides

Airtel Ghana : Upwardly Mobile

Ghana's telecoms and ICT sector is full of opportunities for both local and international firms, says Philip Sowah of Airtel Ghana.


Profits, not gold Africa Outlook talks to Goldplat plc CEO Russell Lamming, the man refocusing the AIM-listed firm. Writer Susan Miller Project manager Debbie Clark Goldplat plc is focusing on profits, not gold as it consolidates its successful South African gold recovery operation, refocuses its Ghanaian gold recovery operation and prepares the way for new operations in Burkina Faso and growing East African powerhouse Tanzania. While the AIM-listed firm had been involved in exploration and mining – including looking for small mines that would feed their recovery plants – the size of the projects, operational constraints and the current uncertain gold price environment simply did not add up when CEO Russell Lamming, appointed in September 2012, undertook a strategic review. A geologist with a business background, Lamming first became involved in AIM junior resource companies at African Platinum Plc, which was successfully sold to Impala Platinum in 2007 once the Leeuwkop platinum project had been proven up. His first CEO role was at Chromex Mining Plc where they took the Stellite chrome mine from exploration through to production. Chromex was sold at the end of 2010 to an integrated ferrochrome producer. For him, in the current economic climate, it made sense to concentrate on Goldplat's core gold recovery business – recovering gold from waste products of the gold mining process - which he feels had been seen as "the ugly duckling of the group". "Historically the profitable sections of Goldplat provided cash flow for the more 'in vogue' part of the business, which had been exploration

DTC Botswana

A cut above the rest In 2011 De Beers and the Botswana government signed a ten-year agreement to move the London DTC to Botswana. Writer Ian Armitage Project manager Debbie Clark Botswana has experienced a serious resurgence of mining activity, with more discoveries seemingly every month. Speaking with me in 2012, Charles Siwawa, CEO of the Botswana Chamber of Mines, said the minerals sector of the country was flourishing and that "exploration for a wide variety of minerals is active and several new minerals projects were launched during last year." Botswana, he said, is a country "getting back to its feet" following the disastrous effects of the 2008 global economic meltdown. "The downturn in the global economy commencing 2008 has had serious repercussions on the mining sector in Botswana," Siwawa explained. "The industry went into a lull with some companies closing down whilst others retrenched staff all in an effort to reduce costs and weather the storm. I think since 2010 however the economic landscape has been changing, picking up, to the extent that in July 2011 we had the highest world record sales of diamonds from Botswana. That has tailed off slightly in terms of production and we are not yet back to the pre-2008 crisis levels but we are certainly producing diamonds and the economy is picking up." Diamonds are of course a girl's best friend; they're Botswana's too. And in August last year, De Beers began rough stone sorting in the country, a first step in its transfer from London to Gaborone. Rough