Provider of temporary power and temperature control services Aggreko Southern and East Africa, opened a new service centre in Walvis Bay, Namibia, last month.
The new facility was inaugurated by Namibian Mines and Energy Deputy Minister Willem Isaak and Aggreko Southern and East Africa head of local business Martin Foster.
Foster says the new depot will service the country’s rapidly growing mining industry, as well as other industrial users throughout the country. Located next to the Port of Walvis Bay, the facility is strategically positioned to support Namibia’s shipping and fishing industries.
“Aggreko provides temperature control solutions to customers across a range of industries. Our temperature control expertise helps indus- trial, mining, food and bever- age and major events companies cope with peak seasonal demands and provides emergency capacity when vital cooling infrastructure breaks down,” he explains.
“Aggreko’s expansion into Namibia is a major step in our strategy to build a local presence in the key industrial hubs of Southern and East Africa. As the region continues its strong growth, Aggreko is able to support this growth through the provision of temperature control services,” says Aggreko MD for Southern and East Africa James Shepherd.
Foster adds that Namibia is a key strategic market for the company.
“Aggreko is highly committed to the development of the communities we operate in. We take very seriously the progression of our local Aggreko people and will hire and train a strong local workforce to support the new facility. “The long-term success of our business is directly linked to a highly capable and well-trained Namibian workforce,” he states.
Foster notes that this is the sixth service centre that the company has opened in Africa since it opened its doors on the continent three years ago.
“We opened a service centre in Nairobi, Kenya, in May, which serves as our East African headquarters,” he says.
Aggreko recently embarked on work at a major mining project in South Africa, where the company reconfigured equip- ment and placed a range of water-cooled chillers a few kilometres into the mine to provide cold air to the miners working below.
“This project is a first for Aggreko and for South Africa. We were asked to supply a cooling solution to miners in one of the deepest mines in the country. Instead of blowing air in from the top of the mine, which is the traditional way of sending cold air into a mine shaft, we tapped our water-cooled chillers into the mine’s existing system to give it additional capacity for the upcoming summer months,” Foster says.
He explains that the benefits of supplying cold air in this way are that it minimises cooling-tower downtime and increases large motor capacity during high ambient conditions.
“Our modular system gives [the mine] additional capacity to operate in safe working conditions,” he notes.
Aggreko also recently supplied all the temporary power at the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, in London.
“We also provided products and solutions at the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 Soccer World Cup, in South Africa, as well as the Durban July,” he states.
Foster adds that the company has a dedi- cated team that handles events not only in South Africa, but globally as well.
Foster states that the biggest challenges the company faces in Africa revolve around logistical issues.
“We have branches globally. For exam- ple, in the Middle East, distances are vast, but the people speak one language and there are common customs so it is not difficult to move equipment across borders.
“In Africa, we talk about common regions; however, they do not work that well in practice.
“It can take weeks to get products across borders and into neighbouring countries such as Angola or Mozambique, owing to customs issues and language barriers,” states Foster.
He further explains that logistics can be especially difficult in the mining industry, where companies mine in remote areas that are often accessible only by helicopter or only have one road going to and from site.
“That is one of the single biggest challenges we face. We try to combat it by being present in African countries and employing locals who speak the language and understand their customs,” he says.
“When Aggreko opens a service centre in a new country, we employ locals and go through internal skills transfer to ensure we provide the same quality service and products globally.
“We have also found that there is an abundance of capable and skilled personnel in Africa. “After they go through our training courses, they get deployed all over the world at various Aggreko sites, which is something we are proud of.
“In future, we would like to open more service centres throughout Africa, as we want to expand our products and services into as much of the continent as we can,” Foster notes.