The industry sector within global technology group Siemens is expanding its African footprint and expects to benefit directly and indirectly from the resources- and infrastructure-related investments planned for the continent in the coming years.
Industry sector VP for Africa and the Middle East Raymond Padayachee says the unit, through sales of automation and control solutions and services, as well as drive and metals technologies to industries as diverse as food and beverage, automotive and mining, is targeting yearly growth of 7 % across the continent.
Globally, the unit contributed about €20- billion to the group’s sales of around €74- billion in 2011, with the balance being derived from the German multinational’s other segments or clusters, including infrastructure and cities, energy and healthcare.
The attention being given to the continent effectively reverses a corporate scale-back that took place in Africa between 2007 and 2009 and is backed by a material investment strategy.
The industry unit alone has expanded its employment levels to around 600 people, with the majority of those still located in South Africa, which provides back office support to a number of the other African offices.
The segment has materially increased its on-the-ground presence in countries such as Angola, Ghana, Mozambique and Nigeria, where growth is arising primarily from invest- ments being made in the resources, food and beverage and water distribution sectors.
“The South African market, along with some of the country’s neighbours, remains our ‘base’ business. But, at the moment, we are seeing increased investment and growth outside the South African market,” Padayachee outlines.
South Africa remains a key gateway, but it continues to assess localisation prospects in other countries.
He says the infrastructure programmes in South Africa and the rest of Africa, should they materialise, would have material second-round benefits for industry unity, although its energy and infrastructure business units will have a more direct exposure.
During 2011, the Siemens group recorded double-digit order growth in Africa, which was underpinned particularly by strong orders for its energy solutions and services.
“But entering the African market requires planning, patience and understanding and that is precisely how we are approaching it,” Padayachee concludes.