Projects expansion and demand for mineral commodities fuel investment in Africa

Frostsull-mine Improving global economic climate has boosted the mining industry. (Image source: Carsten ten Brink/Flickr)Automation and control systems (ACS) technologies in sub-saharan Africa are set to experience a surge in investment, according to a new analysis by Frost and Sullivan

The increase is investment is in response to a slew of industrial sector project expansions, escalating global demand for mineral commodities, and enhanced awareness of the benefits of automation. Africa, however, will require more skilled personnel to adapt to increasing automation levels.

According to the analysis titled ‘Sub-Saharan Africa's Automation and Control Solutions Market in the Mining Industry: An Analysis of the Top 3 Countries’, the market earned revenues of US$13.20mn in 2012 and estimates these revenues to grow to US$18.70mn in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.2 per cent.

An improving global economic climate has boosted the mining industry in the SSA region and encouraged greater process efficiencies, which, in turn, has compelled infrastructure provision and higher investments in automation equipment. Automation providers that are eager to make the most of the mechanisation trend in the African mining industry will be looking to offer end users a lot more than just 'machine control'. By providing asset and project management, they can gradually chip away at the resistance they had experienced for 15 to 20 years.

The report states that even though certain government and labour groups are lobbying against increasing automation levels within the sub-region, there is an obvious need to lay or build more roads, railways, ports and bridges to optimise the extraction of the region's natural resources.

While this stokes automation endeavours, some mining companies are unable to adopt more advanced technologies due to a shortage of skilled labour.

"Automation solution providers not only have to compete with anti-mechanisation groups, but also have to contend with the lack of infrastructure and the cyclical nature of the mining industry,” said Frost & Sullivan's consulting manager for Industrial, James Fungai Maposa. “They, therefore, need to educate end users on the benefits of automation and attempt to extract value out of the private investments in SSA's infrastructure.”

While the presence of international mining houses in SSA's mining sector is expected to have a significant influence on the industry's ACS purchases, price-sensitive participants tend to opt for lower priced Asian imports. Yet, the rising interest in automation technologies is anticipated to cause a proliferation of suppliers across the region. New suppliers initially set up presence in South Africa, but Ghana and Tanzania's proximity to Europe will encourage automation technology suppliers from Europe to also establish a footprint within these countries.

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
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