Modular building supplier Speedspace is focusing on alternative market diversification and penetration to bolster its Southern Africa operations amid recent declines in product demand from local mining houses.
Speedspace MD Hennie Wiggett tells Mining Weekly that the company anticipated hardships in the local economy, leading it to assess opportunities to expand into Africa in recent years.
Consequently, Speedspace has focused on strengthening its presence at its regional offices in Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania, through which the company offers existing and future clients improved access to its range of products and services, while ensuring that installation and aftermarket teams are readily available throughout the region.
Wiggett enthuses that Speedspace has been met with encouraging growth and demand for its products throughout Africa, specifically from mining houses in Zambia. He cites several recently completed Speedspace projects in Southern Africa because of the company’s outward expansion focus. He specifically highlights the installation of new security offices at diamond miner Lucara Diamond Corporation’s Botswana subsidiary Boteti Mining, and the upgrading of mining company Barrick Gold Corporation’s Lumwana copper mine, in Zambia, to include change-room facilities, ablutions and a canteen, both of which were completed within the last two months.
“Speedspace has found that the mining sectors in the rest of Southern Africa are not hampered and do not face as many legislative uncertainties as the local industry does,” explains Wiggett.
He notes that clearer legis- lative policies that allow for greater levels of investor confidence, coupled with an increase in the copper price, have resulted in encouraging growth in demand for portable building solutions in Zambia and other less volatile regions on the continent.
Although the South African mining sector traditionally made up a significant portion of Speedspace’s yearly business, this has not been the case for the past six months, as the company has noted a decline in demand for portable building solutions from the private- sector, says Wiggett.
Wiggett reiterates that the slowdown can be attributed to a negative economic outlook and pervasive legislative uncertainty pertaining to mine-related issues, such as continual amendments to the draft Mining Charter. The local economy “is not doing well” and, as a result, the local portable building solutions market is under strain, he suggests.
The expansionary approach has, however, afforded Speedspace stability and promises future sustainability amid local market volatility.
“Speedspace’s expansion has assisted it greatly with its strategy of penetrating new markets while ensuring the longevity of its South African operation that supplies its other African entities,” he enthuses.