“There are two major factors driving economic growth and the demand for packaged goods in Africa –we are seeing that the African consumer, as he or she becomes more affluent, is increasingly demanding more sophisticated packaging,” Nampak chief executive, André de Ruyter, told CNBCafrica.com.
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“Also, economic growth rates in Africa are such that the percentage growth that we’re able to capture because of the fact that we have been investing in Africa, for such an extended period of time, is a very good growth story for us.”
De Ruyter, speaking at an event to commemorate [DATA NPK:Nampak]’s 30th Anniversary and the opening of a new 1.2 billion rand glass furnace, also highlighted the company’s growth, with operations in 12 African countries.
“We have grown and expanded the business as time has gone on. Glass manufacturing is a very capital-intensive business and it [the new furnace] is a significant investment for us which enables us to increase our capacity,” he said.
NAMPAK AND THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE
Minister of trade and industry, Rob Davies, who also spoke at the event, reiterated this and further emphasised the importance of manufacturing and agro-processing to the South African and African economy.
“It’s a great pleasure to participate in this launch. Manufacturing is important to the future of this country. We are facing a number of difficulties in the economy and the growth path that we were on has basically run out of stream – we need to add value to our products,” he explained.
“As agro-processing improves, there is a contribution that it makes to the balance of trade [and] this investment is testament to the realities on the ground in South Africa.”
THE BENEFITS OF ‘GREENING’ A BUSINESS
While skills development and training has been a critical component of raising competitiveness, Davies also highlighted the importance of ‘greening’ businesses.
“We see this as an important element of competitiveness. Companies around the world are showing themselves to be less carbon intensive. We have a Clean Production programme, we have introduced standards for energy efficiency through the South Africa Bureau of Standards,” he said.
“We’re encouraging companies to do this because while we were fighting against unfair use of environmental standards as a tool of protectionism, at the same time, we need to send a very clear message to businesses that being more environmentally responsible is a key element of competitiveness.”
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In an effort to green its business, Nampak has made use of a Rotary UPS system – the biggest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere – which allows it to use less energy in the event of a power failure.
De Ruyter said, “In order to mitigate any risk from power interruptions or even dips in the power supply, which has a huge impact on our operations and causes the furnace to go into a safe shutdown mode, we’ve invested in a Rotary UPS system.”
“Ever since the commissioning of this furnace and the associated Rotary UPS facility in June of this year, we’ve already mitigated some 48 of these various trips and dips. We estimate that we’ve saved an amount of 20 million rand already, just by being able to have a continuous power supply.”
MAKING USE OF RECYCLED GLASS
He also emphasised the ‘green’ benefits of glass as an industry and highlighted the company’s use of broken recycled glass to save energy.
“From a sustainability perspective, glass is highly recyclable. We use a very high component of recycled glass in our manufacturing process – up to 55 per cent of our raw materials actually consists of recycled glass,” de Ruyter stated.
“It talks to a reduction in the energy costs that are required to melt recycled glass or cullet, as it’s called, as opposed to melting flint sand. It also then speaks to a reduction in carbon emissions, energy intensity and a reduction in electricity consumption, which is good news for the country overall.”