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The relationship between the current economic infrastructure assets performance problems in Southern Africa and Proactive Enterprise Asset Management

An opinion piece by Kolosa Madikizela, Managing Director Pragma

The economic landscape in Southern Africa has been on a downward spiral. Even South Africa has lost its status as Africa’s biggest economy, falling behind Nigeria at the end of 2019. This downward trend is severely impacting communities. As citizens, we have seen and been affected by this in many forms. Still, the most common threat has been the unavailability of reliable forms of electricity, water and decent infrastructure services across South Africa.

More apparent has been the incapability of our country to rise above these challenges due to the aggravating condition and performance of infrastructure, as a result of poor implementation of sustainable asset maintenance plans. The reality is that these challenges require our country to take a proactive and collective approach, which includes government, civil society and the private sector. In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged South Africa even further. It has resulted in many organisations having to pivot into a more virtual and digitised world, where creativity and innovation had to become a fundamental operating principle.

However, the real issue with our infrastructure performance still relates to the lack of proactive and tactical enterprise asset management. This leads me to question: “What is the relationship between economic infrastructure performance and proactive enterprise asset management? “

Unpacking Proactive Enterprise Asset Management

Generally speaking, proactive behaviour involves anticipating a future situation and acting in advance to attain or prevent a particular outcome. Taking control to make things happen is essential, as opposed to waiting and reacting to a situation as it plays out. –The crux of enterprise asset management is the ability to use predictive maintenance tactics, to ensure that the failure of infrastructure is limited, and implementing preventative measures to safeguard assets should they fail. The consequence of the performance should be mitigated such that it’s not permanent, and the performance of the asset is maintained as per design over its predicted useful life.

Experience has shown us that during stressed economic times, proactive enterprise asset management is critical. It allows organisations to plan with sustainability at the forefront and takes away the “sting” that comes with reactive approaches. As the managing director of a leading enterprise asset management business, I’m passionate about ensuring that we are continually improving our clients’ maintenance strategies. We do this with a focused, proactive enterprise asset management approach.

Our experience has shown tangible performance results for our clients in various sectors. We continue to advance our services through digitisation processes and by introducing relevant applications to drive proactive responses to maintenance issues. Our HSSE Logger is the most recent example of such an app.

Proactive enterprise asset management focuses on scenario planning, allowing organisations to be well equipped for unforeseen challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. As an organisation we have always been a keen proponent of Industry 4.0 and are proud to comment that our virtual strategy has been in the making for several years. It was therefore easy for us to transition into the “new norm”, allowing us to provide uninterrupted services to our clients, in particular those deemed essential during lockdown level five in-hand with diligent maintenance management. It is all about a steady program that ensures that assets are continuously condition assessed and that the right maintenance activities are performed to mitigate risk, whilst balancing cost and performance. As Pragma, we have established ourselves as the leader in this space over 30 years of growth and developing our approach by implementing tactical tools that support our clients’ key business objectives, delivering sustainability in infrastructure performance.

Exploring the relationship between economic infrastructure asset performance problems and Proactive Enterprise Asset Management

History has shown that a country’s economic fibre is directly linked to the performance of its infrastructure assets. If these are not maintained to perform at their peak over their useful life, they are not able to sustain the economic growth required. Southern Africa has not been immune to this, and many organisations have been unable to sustain their growth due to the lack of proactive management and investment in their asset base, which brought on closures and job losses. These are all directly linked to a country’s economic sustainability.

In developing countries, like ours, capital expenditure is vital to economic growth. Recent years have seen slow growth and shrinking capital investment, placing existing asset infrastructure under increased pressure to sustain the economy. We have seen this across all the essential industries that are the backbone of our economy, including electricity, water and sanitation, social development and healthcare.

I believe that the time is now for government, civil society and the private sector to move into a proactive enterprise asset management approach. There is no perfect strategy to resolve these challenges; however a more focused, proactive enterprise asset management philosophy is the ideal starting point. Pragma is the leading enterprise asset management company in Africa. We are well-positioned to advance this, and we are certainly up to the task. We believe it is our duty to our broader society and for generations to come to leave them with a healthy asset infrastructure that enables sustained economic growth for many years to come.