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Tackling youth unemployment and building a stronger economy: How procurement can help

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The future of the global and local economy depends on the youth, but this is something many of us appear to have forgotten in the last 20 years. As business leaders, we have a responsibility to look after the economies we inherited from previous generations and prepare the way for the youth to step into our shoes. But with 63% of young people in South Africa aged 15 to 24 currently unemployed, it’s clear that we’ve missed the mark. Whether this is as a result of poor leadership, corruption, wasteful expenditure, or simply being too busy with what’s in front of us to plan for what lies ahead, is up for debate. However, the fact remains that if we don’t urgently prioritise job creation and youth skills development, the future of the South African economy looks perilous.      

Fortunately, we can take steps to address our shortcomings. Solutions rely on big companies stepping up to make a difference, small companies sprucing up to do better business, and government letting them get on with it. Here’s how I think we could work together to help the youth of today become prudent leaders and powerful consumers of tomorrow.

Addressing the experience gap

Both government and private entities have, for the last few years, focused on skills development. We’ve seen an increase in training programmes, technical skills institutes, support structures, and government-run agencies like the SETAs. So, ostensibly, the knowledge and skills are there. However, the third element in workforce capability – experience – is what’s lacking. And, without it, our youthful job seekers are at a loss.

A friend use to say that we have to allow future leaders to make mistakes, because that’s when they learn. Knowledge and skills can be taught fairly quickly, but experience takes time. To solve this problem, big and small companies need to commit to running meaningful, beneficial internships for the ‘green shoots’ in our workforce. Not tea-making internships, but ones where the trainee gains valuable experience and insight into their chosen industry. So that, at the end of the programme, they aren’t disappointed when the internship doesn’t turn into a full-time position, because they’ve got two other job offers on the table.

The next step is where procurement comes in. Even a skilled, experienced job seeker faces unemployment if they enter an economy where there are no jobs. So, how can we make skills development programmes and meaningful internships productive? How do we create opportunities for young job seekers in South Africa?  

Sending your procurement spend in the right direction  

In my 20 years in the procurement industry, I’ve noticed that the big organisations we assist have around 3 000 vendors on their books, but 80% of their spend goes to 100 suppliers. Why is that? In some cases, it’s in the interest of speed and efficiency. But how will we grow our economy if the same few names continue to dominate the market?

At Dante Deo, we’ve been doing things a bit differently. When we work with the big-name vendors, we award contracts – worth millions of rands – on condition: that they agree to employ and develop smaller players in the market.

This doesn’t just mean outsourcing 20% of the job to small businesses – as government tenders stipulate, but leveraging that established and renowned company to make a real difference. In a service integrator role, they could assist with practical skills training, as well as help take a small business from good to great. I want to see big players leading and developing smaller players, building everything from practical skills to sound finance and marketing departments. Because, in my experience, that’s often where small businesses fall short. They offer a good service, but don’t have the knowledge or experience to run a business. With a bit of help, they could start hiring their own accountants, tax experts, operations managers, and HR teams. Which will create job opportunities and open up the market to more than a handful of vendors.        

Why rural sourcing deserves the spotlight

Initially, those of us in procurement were excited about outsourcing. Then, when international fees became too high, the trend towards near-sourcing emerged. Now, with COVID-19 proving that we don’t need to be in offices or even city centres to be productive, rural sourcing or onshoring has become an appealing option. With a laptop and Internet connection, people in Rustenburg, Estcourt, and Langebaan can service projects anywhere. And, because the cost of living is substantially lower in outlying towns, there are cost-saving advantages to rural sourcing, too. Why should we drive people from Joburg or Pretoria to service a mine in Middelburg? Surely businesses in that community would benefit from doing the job themselves?   

Now, if there’s a project in the Midlands, let’s ask the big-name vendor not only to help develop 10 smaller players as part of the job, but to make sure that those small players are within a 50km radius from where the project is based. That way, we’re building small sustainable businesses, increasing job opportunities, and developing skills in previously neglected communities. If that isn’t a win, win, win, I don’t know what is.

In helping the youth, you’re helping yourself  

In 2016, Microsoft South Africa partnered with the city of Joburg to train 1 million citizens in digital literacy. An indirect benefit of this was that they probably also increased the number of Microsoft license users. This is what companies should realise: solutions like internships, innovative procurement, and active rural sourcing have the potential to change the lives of South Africa’s youth and significantly increase your bottom line. The youth of today will be the consumers of tomorrow, and if they’re going to buy your product one day, they need your help now.  

We don’t need to rely on government to incentivise strategies like this; we should be pursuing them because they are right for the economy, and right for business. Let’s let government focus on building infrastructure, improving network connections, providing proper roads, sanitation, and rubbish removal, and let businesses do what they do best – grow. As business leaders, we should focus on productivity, output, and growth, three key ingredients to economic activity. Hopefully, we’ll pass the recipe down to future leaders so they can confidently take South Africa’s economy into the future.      

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Precision delivery key to Unitrans Africa’s mining-sector success

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Unitrans Africa’s (UA) proven mining-sector material handling capability is laying the foundation for a bright future characterised by unique innovation in critical areas of the company’s operations.

Electric vehicles and real-time stockpile management and reporting are but two examples of Unitrans Africa’s bold, long-term vision. But none of these ideas would have even made it to the drawing board had it not been for the company’s trusted reputation when it comes to on-mine material handling and mine-to-port capabilities – painstakingly built across the continent over many decades.

“Unitrans Africa is truly demonstrating our purpose of Accelerating Africa’s Growth with the current mining projects and partnerships we currently have in place,” says Unitrans CEO, Rob Hayworth, who believes that the company now has the springboard to recreate, throughout Africa, the success of current operations, which are accredited according to the highest available safety standards, including the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), Occupational Health, Safety and Security (OHSAS), Safety and Quality Assessment System (SQAS) and Road Transport Management System (RTMS).

“Our solutions have a positive impact on the regions we operate in and with the partners we are involved with, especially when it comes to utilising local labour and reducing the total project emissions via the use of road trains,” he adds.

Road trains have the unique ability to each handle up to 140 tons of payload, while at the same time increasing safety standards and decreasing environmental impact. The latter is achieved through reduced emissions on a net project basis due to a reduction in the required fleet size.

It’s for these reasons that road trains occupy pole position in Unitrans Africa’s bold take on the future – one that is possible thanks to the company’s proven end-to-end capabilities. “Our ‘mine-to-port’ capability is a major strength and this is where our immediate focus has been” says Hayworth. “We’ve been able to set a stake in the ground and are now looking to build on these strengths, as the largest operator of road trains in Africa.”

“We are in the final stages of research into a number of innovative offerings including electric mining vehicles, which will be revealed soon,” he adds.

Unitrans Africa’s extensive footprint in sub-Saharan Africa includes countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Tanzania and Madagascar. This presence already makes the company one of the largest material handling, distribution and logistics operations on the continent, which Hayworth ascribes to an unwavering focus on precision delivery.

“Our exacting standards, high quality, performance track records and continuous improvement all translate into a gold standard when it comes to service delivery,” he says. “When it comes to mining, this is reflected in Unitrans’s custom designed vehicles and engineered equipment, handling of dangerous goods, superb delivery, and cost efficiency, amongst other things.”

As an example of this precision delivery accelerating Africa’s growth, Hayworth points to the successful kickstarting of their Botswanan copper operations, which have demonstrated positive economic and environmental effects. Job growth has increased locally, GDP has grown across the SADC region as a whole, and copper has contributed to a reduction in carbon emissions due to its use in electric vehicles.

“We now have proven copper handling capabilities, which we can use as a launchpad into similar operations in the likes of DRC, Zambia and Namibia in the future,” says Hayworth.

A future which, if Unitrans Africa’s track record is anything to go by, looks bright indeed.

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IAG Cargo reports strong Q3 as capacity rebounds across its global network

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Friday 5 November, 2021, Today, IAG Cargo reports strong Q3 revenues of €405 million for the period from July 1 to September 30 2021, as activity accelerates back to 2019 levels, with the business aided by growing capacity and the breadth of its network.

The Q3 2021 revenues represent an increase of 34.4 percent at constant currency versus the same period last year. Overall yield for Q3 was down 2.0 per cent at constant currency versus 2020. Sold tonnes were up 42.6 per cent. The results come on top of IAG Cargo’s half year revenue of €769m, delivering total revenue to date of €1,174 million in 2021; up 28.0 percent on the same time last year.

The quarter’s success has been achieved through a sustained resurgence in the volume of flights offered by IAG Cargo. Overall, IAG Cargo has seen a 24 per cent increase in capacity on the previous quarter and a 62.2 per cent increase compared to Q3 last year. The increased activity reflects growing levels of global trade, as many economies experience recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. New routes during the quarter included Nairobi, Istanbul, Male, Chennai, Vienna, Denver and Phoenix whilst many other lanes saw increased frequencies.

During the quarter, IAG Cargo’s ability to provide a fast, efficient and global service, connecting East to West, has been in high demand. IAG Cargo’s hubs in Heathrow, Madrid and Dublin have been pivotal, with a significant increase in interline activity.  IAG Cargo also increasingly saw conversions from sea freight as shippers turned to air freight to minimise the impact of the well-publicised supply chain disruption. 

Commenting on the quarter, IAG Cargo Managing Director David Shepherd said: “This quarter we have seen momentum build as IAG Cargo, and the global economy, begins to take increasingly confident steps towards a more buoyant future, as recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to gain ground. The team’s resilience and commitment to put our customers first continues, and we are excited to enter into a new and ambitious phase of activity.”  

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New CIPS Southern Africa General Manager focusses on more educational opportunities for all as she takes on new challenges for the procurement and supply profession

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Pretoria, 2 December 2021  – The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) has appointed Dr Sara Bux as General Manager of Southern Africa. This is a critical appointment as the procurement profession continues to grow in the region and more individuals and organisations are seeking training and qualifications in procurement and supply.

Dr Bux, who most recently served as Director —Southern Africa at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants has over 30 years’ experience in the education sector.

Dr Bux possesses a high level of understanding of the regulatory education environment and networks across Southern Africa, with board-level experience. She has a passion for educational transformation, particularly within Southern Africa and support for the procurement and supply profession. Her qualifications include a Master of Arts (MA) in South African Literature, a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Business Management Entrepreneurship.

Group Chief Executive Officer of CIPS, Malcolm Harrison commented, “I am delighted Sara is joining the CIPS team with her background in education, her high level of understanding of the regulatory frameworks and her strong networks in Southern Africa; she will be a real asset.

“Her energy and enthusiasm will build on the ongoing success of CIPS and I’m looking forward to working with her to create more opportunities for members and aspiring professionals to develop their skills and qualifications allowing them to create the resilient supply chains of the future.”Dr Sara Bux said of her appointment: “I am a firm believer in dignity, equality, freedom, diversity and inclusion for all, and I hope to bring these qualities into my role for CIPS.“I have a strong passion for education and especially, access to the right kind of education that will enable individuals to constructively participate in and contribute to the local and global economy and to society as a whole.”

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