“When we found the construction boom had died down, we focused on wind energy, solar, smart meters, which is the future. That’s what businesses have got to do. You’ve got to look at the trends and change. Too many businesses in South Africa stick with the old method and they fail,” Edison Power group founder Vivian Reddy told CNBC Africa on Thursday.
The Edison Power group is one of the oldest electrical contracting companies in South Africa. It specialises in electrical, fibre optic and live installations, among others. The group is also involved in a number of projects in the shopping centre, healthcare, airports and hotel industries.
“The reality is I’m involved in power, which I started 35 years ago. Edison Power is now the biggest power company in Africa. I’m involved in the casino business, the property sector and we’ve been able to move with the market change,” Reddy explained.
“In the apartheid days I named the business Edison Power because I wasn’t getting work as Reddy’s Electrical. Once we changed the name, work came in. When it was discovered that it’s the Indian that owned this company, we were persecuted, but we performed. We became the best in whatever we do and people realised the quality of the work we did was something exemplary.”
Reddy had often been accused of being the poster boy for crony capitalism, due to his close ties with the African National Congress (ANC) and South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma.
“I’ve heard that accusation. People say these things and they tend to believe the wrong information they give out. The reality is the ANC came into power in 1994, and since then it was the first time that black business had opportunities, they opened the doors. We only really progressed after that. It’s not cronyism,” said Reddy.
“If you’re good at your business, you give it your best. You don’t need any political support. We are the biggest employer in Newcastle and we’re expanding the shopping centre by another 20,000 square metres. Whatever you do, you’ve got to do your best.”