The newly established Akhani Group, 51% black-female owned and B-BBEE 3 rated, is one of the biggest service providers in the South African mining industry, with plans to expand through Africa.
Building the future
The word Akhani means “building the future together,” explains CEO Fulu Mphuthi. The group’s executive team includes Deon Fuhri as COO and Ntaoleng Kunene as CIO. The group was formed in May through the merger of Mine Procurement Solutions (MPS) and Vhaselwa Engineering & Management Consulting (VEM).
MPS comprises MPS South Africa, MPS Tanzania and MPS Mozambique and MPS Liberia. In addition, Akhani recently announced a partnership with Energy Cybernetics, a local energy-management services company based in Pretoria. This will allow the group to identify renewable energy and energy-efficiency opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Merger of two leading service providers
The merger of the two leading service providers for mining, oil and gas, and energy management companies creates a comprehensive offering of workforce effectiveness and productivity, and operational performance excellence for the broader energy and resources industries. Akhani serves public, government and private market sectors.
With existing operations in South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Liberia, the group intends to establish a foothold in Zimbabwe and Kenya by 2015. This forms part of its mission statement, which is to create value for stakeholders by enabling improved business performance for customers while enhancing quality of life.
Good track record
The merger has effectively combined, and leveraged, two already successful South African companies, with a good track record in infrastructure design and supply, workforce and operational camping-site management and maintenance, energy consulting, energy conservation and energy management, as well as transformation and change management
A major feature of the new group is that it is 51% black female-owned, as well as being B-BBEE level 3 rated. “Women empowerment is a big issue in South Africa at the moment, especially in white male-dominated industries such as mining,” says Mphuthi. “The formation of Akhani is another indication it is not a myth that a company with black female ownership can still thrive in this sector. I further believe that the formation of the Akhani Group will inspire other black female entrepreneurs in the mining industry, and that if you stay true to your core values, continue to deliver value-for-money and build lasting relationships, you will achieve.”
Rationale behind the merger
Mphuthi explains the rationale behind the merger: “VEM Consulting is strong in transformation management, while MPS is a well-known and reputable camp-site management player in the mining industry. Since VEM Consulting has always had an interest expanding its services into the mining sector, especially within Africa, we were interested to merge in order for us to be able to do that. In addition, our services and products complement each other.”
Fuhri adds that MPS is “very strong in camp infrastructure design for the mining sector in Africa. We have been on the lookout for opportunities within South Africa for some time, and when the opportunity presented itself to enter into discussions with VEM Consulting, we quickly identified potential synergies, but also realised that we had similar values and visions.” These similarities paved the way for a smooth merger that only took three months to complete which, compared to traditional merger-and-acquisition transactions in the market, must be considered quick.
Leading camp-management company
“This transaction will create a leading camp management company, differentiated by its ability to deliver the most innovative products and services and superior customer experience within the highly competitive and dynamic marketplace in which we operate. We are looking forward to working with Ms. Mphuthi’s team as we bring our companies together to deliver,” says Fuhri. “This combination creates a company that delivers maximum value for our shareholders, enormous opportunities for our employees, and a superior experience for our customers.”
Another benefit of the merger for customers in particular is that it has removed any operational or service duplication. “A client might require a basket of services, some of which may lie within the MPS framework and some within the VEM Consulting framework. We can now offer that with the Akhani brand.”
Remote-site service provider
Fuhri elaborates on Akhani’s main business proposition: “We believe we are the only service provider in the mining sector, and we are talking remote sites specifically, offering a basket of services that is all-encompassing. We carry out infrastructure design, development, manufacturing and commissioning. In addition, we also manage those camps on behalf of our clients, which include services such as catering, housekeeping, laundry services, landscaping and hotel/motel services.
“In addition, we believe we are extremely well positioned to bring a unique service offering, which is an alternative energy solution,” says Fuhri. This is critical, as off-grid power generation consumes about 30% of a mine’s operating expenditure. “In conjunction with Energy Cybernetics, we are in a position to provide alternative energy solutions that will save mining companies up to 20% of their energy consumption, which represents an enormous cost-saving.”
Fuhri says that Akhani’s entry into the energy-management sector is based on a holistic service offering. “What makes our basket of products in the energy space so unique is it is not only a solar solution. At this particular point in time, we are steering away from wind energy because most mine sites are not situated on the coast, so wind energy does not play a factor. What we also offer as alternative power sources, apart from solar energy, is so-called ‘new age’ power generation.
“We have agreements in place with manufacturers of solar air-conditioners and solar geysers. In certain countries we are also allowed to import diesel to reduce costs further. This enables us to approach our mining clients with a complete basket of services. What we are also offering at the moment, which is quite unique in our industry, is a free energy audit for mining companies.
Qualified energy managers, technicians
“Our qualified energy managers and energy technicians will spend two or three days on-site, demonstrating to our clients that our solutions we propose will actually save them on their operating costs. The mining sector globally is under a huge amount of pressure from a capital expenditure perspective, while operating mines are equally under pressure to cut their running costs,” comments Fuhri.
“While our head office will remain in South Africa, we are an African company, and we will increase our footprint on the continent as opportunities present themselves. Currently, we have offices in Liberia, Mozambique and Tanzania,” says Fuhri.
Community development, sustainability
He adds that Akhani’s focus on community development and sustainability on the sites it manages on behalf of its clients takes centre stage. “In most cases, we are the largest single service provider to the mining sector on a particular site. About 97% of all our staff on a remote site comes from local villages surrounding these camps. We work in partnership with local institutions and NGOs to hire and train local personnel.
“Our training methodology has to be very stringent because we mostly employ people unskilled labourers in these remote locations. Different cultures and language barriers are also a challenge we face when mobilising and operating these camps. We invest a great deal of resources developing the skills of our employees. We focus on basic skills and continuously review high-quality leadership development, and have a range of more than 26 external and internal development programmes currently in use across the group.”
About Mine Procurement Solutions (MPS)
MPS, a division of the Akhani Group, specialises in the infrastructure design, management and maintenance of remote workforce and operational camping sites. The division provides accommodation supply, catering, camp management and a complete range of associated services. The team of mining procurement specialists supports customers from conception to operation and maintenance, including community-development needs. The focus of the division is on quality and service delivery, safety at all times and project outcomes that are within budget and on time.
About Vhaselwa Engineering & Management Consulting (VEM Consulting)
VEM Consulting, a division of the Akhani Group, provides business transformation solutions that help customers effectively manage their enterprise more efficiently, safely and sustainably. VEM Consulting renders its consulting services to customers in South Africa with the intent of expanding its service offering globally. The division identifies business needs, determining solutions for business problems. Solutions entail alignment of business strategy, business systems, business process optimisation, organisational change as well as policy and procedure development, directly benefiting customers’ operational business performance.
Fulu Mphuthi, CEO, T o11 083 6403, C 072 116 6008, email@example.com
Deon Fuhri, COO, T 011 083 6403, C 083 640 4842, firstname.lastname@example.org