Issue 72

Thika Cloth Mills

Bringing Textiles Home Having weathered a storm of competition from overseas, Kenya’s Thika Cloth Mills is investing in modern techniques to help the national industry stand on its own two feet    Writer: Tom Wadlow  |  Project Manager: Matthew Cole-Wilkin At the age of 24 my sister and I visited the factory one afternoon to find all the workers standing outside.   “They hadn’t been paid their wages. My father explained that the factory was going through difficult times and that the family was restructuring. He told the workers that the future looked grim and they could either go and look for green pastures or get back to work and hope for the best.   “To our surprise every worker went back into the factory. I knew how much this meant to them, and I made a promise to fight for our people and make this wrong right.”    This is Kenya, 1998, just outside of Nairobi – a textile trade in crisis. Huge influxes of cut-price clothing from the manufacturing powerhouses of Asia had penetrated the local market, and decades-old local businesses were under threat.   The opening words are those of Tejal Dodhia, now Managing Director of rejuvenated family enterprise, Thika Cloth Mills.   Two decades on from its darkest hour, her resolve is being rewarded despite the odds being firmly stacked against the company when she returned home from studying in the UK.   “The job losses were immense and there was nothing anyone could do but watch. Thika Cloth Mills hit rock bottom and lost all but 350 of its workers.” 

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Rainoil 2019

The Pride of Nigerian Petroleum Both ambitious in its downstream aspirations and humble as a sound corporate citizen, Rainoil Limited has risen to the fore of the nation’s oil and gas industry. Gabriel Ogbechie, Founder and Group Managing Director, tells its story   Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Ashley Parfitt With the 60th anniversary of Nigerian independence fast approaching, a quick reflection upon the country’s modern history transparently unveils what can only be described as a nation on the rise.  Standing as Africa’s largest economy with an estimated population of 200 million and GDP of $376 billion, the continent’s western powerhouse has made monumental strides throughout the past half century, now outperforming the likes of South Africa, Ireland and Hong Kong.  Sweeping opportunities and prospering industries have paved the way for Nigeria’s surge, the African Development Bank citing a thriving service sector and sound economic and political reforms as consistent tailwinds in recent times.   Among the nation’s top performers is none other than the oil and gas vertical. Since the first discovery of commercially available hydrocarbons in 1956 in Oloibiri, a small community located just off the country’s southern coastal border, the industry has grown rapidly to displace the traditional role of agriculture as the nation’s leading economic mainstay.   Evaluating figures from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), such growth is clear to see, with the production of 0.184 billion barrels of oil and 2.260 billion cubic feet of gas recorded in 1958 having expanded exponentially during the latter part of the 20th century, with the nation producing

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Kyoga Hauliers

Going the Extra Mile A down to earth family business reputed for its esteemed service, Kyoga Hauliers is embodying progress against an optimistic East African backdrop    Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Josh Mann “Growing up under my father’s guidance, I came to appreciate the world of logistics and supply chain.   “I grew up looking at ships, trucks, cranes and cargo moving around in Mombasa, a city known as a gateway to East Africa. It was only natural that I would come to follow this path.”  For Ismail Gulam, the supply chain industry has formed the basis of an illustrious, flourishing career.   Following in the footsteps of his father, Gulam Dhora, the Founder of Kyoga Hauliers, he worked his way up through the family transport and haulage business – a process that allowed him to gain transparent oversight and learn to appreciate each and every one of the company’s individually crucial cogs.   “After completing my Business Law and Social Sciences studies in the UK, I returned to Kenya in 2009 to assist my father,” he affirms. “Starting in the operations department, I moved around to understand each element of the business, from sales, project cargo and port operations to HR, tracking operations and the workshop.”  Fast forward a decade and Gulam now stands as the Operations Director of Kyoga Hauliers, leveraging his vast knowledge of the company’s inner workings to review strategy and assist company guidance.  The lifeblood of industry  This input has helped direct the firm for the latter half of its 18-year history, the business having

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Kenya Power and Lighting Company

Kenya’s Critical Connector Through a series of dedicated entities, Kenya Power is completing a number of projects geared towards connecting more consumers and businesses to vital power resources  Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Krisha Canlas “I wanted to become an engineer since my childhood because I believed it would offer me an opportunity to provide solutions that improve the lives of others.   “By working for Kenya Power for more than three decades and contributing to the country’s energy sector as an electrical engineer for many years, I believe I have achieved this.”  Jared Othieno is passionate about power.   Now serving as Managing Director and CEO of the national electricity distribution firm, he is determined to build on its near 100-year history, driving forward projects which will continue to catalyse industrial development across Kenya.   In 1922 Kenya Power was established with a simple mandate to manage generation, transmission and distribution of the nation’s electricity.  Indeed, for Othieno, the company’s greatest achievement to date has been succeeding in what he calls the unbundling of the sector, resulting in dedicated entities responsible for each of the aforementioned functions.   Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), Geothermal Development Company (GDC) and Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) fall under the generation umbrella of the business, with Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) handling transmission while Kenya Power and Rural Electrification Authority (REA) fulfil distribution remits.   These units combine to own and operate most of the electricity system in the country, selling to more than seven million households with a commitment to provide cost-effective, reliable and

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Kanoria Africa Textile Plc

Kanoria Africa Textile PLC is driving diversification across Ethiopia. Leveraging state-of-the-art facilities to sustainably manufacture over 12 million metres of denim each year,

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Hybrid Poultry Farm

Securing Self-Sufficiency As Zambia bids to fulfil its food production potential, Hybrid Poultry Farm continues to provide an affordable, high-quality and customer-focused solution for retailers and QSR operators    Writer: Tom Wadlow  |  Project Manager: Lewis Bush “Zambia has enormous (and largely untapped) potential to produce food.   Home to 40 million hectares of arable land, an abundance of water resources, fertile soils and a low population density, the country is enviably-placed to contribute to Africa’s food production needs.    However, the fact remains that agriculture contributes a little over eight percent of GDP despite the sector employing almost half of Zambia’s population. The southern African nation is still reliant on copper mining, an industry which is subject to price volatility and provides employment to just two percent of citizens.   “Greater development in agriculture would not only provide the much-needed diversification of the economy, but also position the country better to tackle the great stress that will be placed on global food supplies due to climate change, urbanisation, and soil degradation,” explains Richard Keeley, CEO of Hybrid Poultry Farm.   “Other benefits would include food self-sufficiency, significant employment and the opportunity to export food products into the surrounding region.”  Poultry is a vital component of Zambia’s food production ecosystem, seen as the most cost-effective and accessible form of protein for much of the country’s and wider continent’s population.   For Keeley, entry into this sector was a natural step in terms of prior experience and his natural interests.   “I have had a passion for agriculture and the food industry since I can remember,”

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Hungry Lion 2019

Stellenbosch-based fast food specialist Hungry Lion has found ideal footing for expansion over the coming years, owed to optimised operations and an admirable outlook

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Hariss International

Proudly Ugandan Embodying innovative values that stem from an entrepreneurial spirit, Hariss International and its flagship Riham brand are effectively setting new standards in the food and beverage industry   Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Lewis Bush Africa has come to be renown-ed as a continent on the rise, and Uganda is one country that typifies this reputation.  The East African nation’s real GDP growth rose from five percent in 2017 to 5.3 percent last year. Meanwhile, the African Development Bank has forecast that this upward curve will continue, projecting a 5.5 percent and 5.7 percent improvement in 2019 and 2020 respectively.  Uganda has in fact maintained a promising economic climate since the 1990s and early 2000s, paving the way for Hariss International, now an icon of national progression, to leap to the forefront of the Ugandan food and beverage industry.  “Coming from a biscuit background in Tanzania, I came to Uganda with a dream of promoting the brand name Riham that has been owned by my brother under Riham Industries since 1995,” reveals Yasser K. Ahmad, Co-founder and Chairman of the Board at Hariss International Limited – the parent company of the Riham brand.  “The idea was to establish Riham in not only the biscuits industry but all food and drinks sectors, and so we started our expansion with the launch of water and imitation juice drinks in 2007.”  A story of success  12 years on and Ahmad’s dream has been more than realised.  Riham is now a well-known household brand, having captured the support of Uganda’s

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Flightlink

Flying High 16 years in the making, Flightlink’s story continues to gather momentum. Munawer Dhirani, the man behind the company’s rapid rise, tells all   Writer: Jonathan Dyble  |  Project Manager: Josh Mann “I was a good cricketer during my teens, and played at both the domestic and international level, but I always wanted to become a pilot.  “This vision never faltered throughout my schooling but owning an aviation company was certainly not on the agenda. I was from a humble working-class family – the idea of owning any business was just a fantasy, it was impossible!”  Owed to hard work and pure determination, Munawer Dhirani, now Captain and Managing Director of Flightlink, is living out his childhood dream.  Starting out selling hardware and accessories for computers in a small yet successful self-run business, his entrepreneurial career began on quite a different foot. Leveraging the funds gained from this, however, Dhirani was able to begin attending a local flying club at Dar es Salaam Airport, Tanzania in 1998 and later flying school in San Diego California.  “I funded my own training using the money I had accumulated and completed my commercial pilot license,” he adds.  Upon returning to Tanzania, Dhirani then launched Flightlink Ltd in 2003, in the same year purchasing his first aircraft – a five-seat twin-engine Piper Seneca II from South Africa.  “Of course, I didn’t have the money to fund my purchase in full. I acquired a soft personal loan from two of my friends and they became silent partners in the business until 2006 when

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DT Dobie

Kenya’s Adaptable Auto Dealer DT Dobie prides itself on an agile setup and customer-first service, now established as a reliable OEM partner both at home and in neighbouring countries   Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Josh Hyland Food security, affordable housing, accessible healthcare and modern manufacturing – in December 2017 President Kenyatta outlined his vision for Kenya’s development in the form of the Big Four Agenda.   Aligned with the East African nation’s Vision 2030, the programme seeks to improve the living standards of Kenyans, grow the economy and leave a lasting legacy.   For Ian Middleton, Managing Director of auto retailer DT Dobie, part of the French group CFAO which is owned by Toyota Tsusho, the Big Four initiative is cause for optimism.   Asked if Kenya’s auto market is an exciting space to be operating in, he replies confidently: “Yes, particularly now the government’s agenda is focusing on industrialisation and encouraging Kenya to manufacture more automotive vehicles and products for domestic use as well as export.”  Middleton joined DT Dobie in May 2017 having previously worked with CFAO in a former role.   “I worked with them previously in Nigeria and it was a return for me when the company had recently taken on VW as a brand,” he recalls.   “It was a new challenge. I also know DT Dobie well from previous interactions in various markets with various products and always liked their business and work ethic.  “I have been in the auto industry my entire career, and my father before me, specifically in Africa. I was sent to

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DMJ Architects

DMJ Architects Design Durability DMJ Architects has been contributing to the development of Kenya and the wider region since it set up shop back in 1965   Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Eddie Clinton  Nairobi – the beating heart of Kenya and arguably East Africa’s most metropolitan city.   Full of culture and charm and sat on the doorstep of a magnificent national park, the capital is an alluring place to visit and live.   For Simon Johnson, born and raised in Kenya and now Owner of local practice DMJ Architects, 1978 marked a return to the city he loves.   “Nairobi, in particular, is a very cosmopolitan place,” he says. “It is not only the base for several African organisations, but also hosts the United Nations’ environmental agency.   “This means there are even more different nationalities represented here. I find this mixture of people, together with a good climate and places to visit, make it a tremendous place to live.”  This is not to suggest Nairobi, and indeed Kenya more widely, is free from developmental challenges, however. Established in 1965, DMJ is a tightknit team of architects and support staff which has witnessed first-hand the nuances of the country’s progression.   “Kenya is currently catching up on 30 years of little development,” adds Johnson, who moved back to the country after spending time in the UK and Qatar. “Sadly, this is being done without enough thought. Greedy developers pay too much for land and then persuade the government to allow them to overdevelop properties to make a profit.   “This leads to a lot of the wrong kind of development when what

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BAJ Freight and Logistics Limited

Ghana’s Logistics Flagship Celebrating a decade in existence, BAJ Freight and Logistics Limited continues to propel the reputation of Ghanaian freight forwarding services on the international stage   Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Josh Mann “I personally think the industry is a very interesting one and full of adventures. As long as there is trade there is a constant need for freight forwarders, hence our business is here to address this need.  “We therefore see our profession as a calling. This is where we have drawn and continue to draw our inspiration from. Besides, I think with this business, one is opened to the world, its innovations and its vast opportunities.”  Joseph Biney is full of optimism when it comes to his country’s logistics trade.   A proud Ghanaian and CEO of BAJ Freight and Logistics Limited (BAJ), in the decade his company has been in existence he has seen a sea change in how the sector conducts itself.   “I think that the industry keeps improving by the day,” Biney continues. “With more multinational companies coming in who want to see a job well done, logistics companies wishing to get a piece of the pie with them have had to step up their game and meet the high standards that are demanded.    “With tighter competition and industry growth, these international companies now require fully certified management systems as well as well-established ethics and compliance programmes.  “On the whole, I would say that there are still areas of opportunity in the sector, but we have definitely improved from where we

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Atlas Energy Limited

The Petroleum Patron Having obtained a 30 percent market share in just three years, Atlas Energy is taking the Gambian petroleum industry by storm   Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Ashley Parfitt  In the words of the African Development Bank, Gambia’s economic recovery is gaining real traction.  Indeed, the country was hit by hampering economic shocks, in agriculture from erratic rainfall and in tourism due to the adverse effects of the Ebola crisis, and suffered from a period of political uncertainty during 2016-2017. However, in the past two years, confidence has grown sharply, with real GDP growth now standing at 5.4 percent.  “The Gambia is the most politically stable it has been for a very long time,” explains Hally Mass Jobe, Managing Director of Atlas Energy, part of Oryx Energies group of companies and one of the country’s wholly indigenous petroleum players. “With the new democratic dispensation, business is easier than ever as the government is poised to grow the economy by making the economic environment more conducive.”  A company founded at the inception of national import liberalisation in the Gambian market in 2015, Atlas Energy is a prime example of the country’s prosperous upturn in fortunes.  Rapidly expanding in the space of just three years and benefiting from Oryx Energies’ support, the company’s operations now span four depots and 28 commercial petroleum service stations, with services predominantly focussed on the retail, B2B, aviation, bunkering, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and lubricants markets.  “We see ourselves as a fine example of patriotism towards our shareholders, employees, customers, society and

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