Keeping the competitive edge in Southern Africa and beyond

Corporate Portraits016Matt Bell, director of business development, Himoinsa Southern Africa. (Image source: Himoinsa)Last year Himoinsa Southern Africa opened its offices in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, cementing its role as a leading genset specialist in the country and wider parts of Africa. African Review talks to Matt Bell, director of business development Himoinsa Southern Africa on the company's strategy

What does your role as business development director involve?

My role at Himoinsa Southern Africa is to drive business development through our distributor network, direct sales for end-user customers, where more complex and bespoke technical designs are required for certain industry applications such as mining and telecom, and to support project development companies with multi-megawatt applications.

Which countries does Himoinsa Southern Africa support?

Himoinsa Southern Africa looks after eight countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Swaziland and Lesotho. In 2015, the import of gensets in South Africa was worth US$150mn, one of the biggest genset markets in Africa, but I think there is more need at the moment for cost-effective captive power outside of the country.

Why did Himoinsa Southern Africa open a subsidiary office in Port Elizabeth last year?

Being local is very important. We have facilities in Port Elizabeth and in Johannesburg and can supply generators, spares, filters and after-sales and service kits, as well as offer technical expertise on demand. Himoinsa is a vertical manufacturer of a wide range of generator capacities, from 3 to 3,000kVA, and we hold stock of many of these sizes in our warehouse facilities in South Africa, so that we have equipment readily available to support the local market. One of the biggest challenges facing Africa is speed of service. People want European quality and they want it tomorrow, and sometimes that's not always easy to do. The fact we are holding generators, ancillary equipment such as transformers, distribution boards and control panels in South Africa, all backed-up by dedicated service teams, means that we can quickly support our customers with a quality, cost-effective and local solution. 

What type of products does Himoinsa provide? 

We provide critical prime power, standby applications and off-grid solutions. We launched hybrid technology solutions in 2015 ― the integration of solar, battery storage and a generator ― which are having a lot of positive feedback in the telecom industry in Africa due to the massive fuel and operational cost savings.

Micro-grid applications are a game changer in Africa because they are able to supply power to entire villages, not just to a few people. It is frightening that 625 million people still don't have any access to electricity on the continent.  

Himoinsa has built a reputation for supporting a wide range of sectors? Please explain the projects Himoinsa Southern Africa has been involved with?

Since January we have been supporting the utility and renewable sectors. We won a substantial contract in the pre-commissioning of a wind farm in South Africa. We have worked in the hospitality sector, providing standby power for a game farm which needed power to provide lighting to an airstrip. A few years ago, we were awarded by the Angolan government to construct a 25MW power plant to supply Cassanque pumping station on the Kwanza river. Our standby generators provide security of supply to many data centres and process manufacturing plants, in addition to the retail sector where we are supporting a number of shopping malls in Botswana. It's great to see confidence returning to the mining sector and we have just completed a mining contract for one of the leading EPCM companies in the region with a bespoke engineered solution including fire suppression systems. Himoinsa has just been voted in the top six of technology providers in the telecoms sector globally. There is a lot of interest with big telecom providers in Southern Africa at the moment. By providing European quality equipment at a very competitive price, we fit well within any sector.

What gives Himoinsa Southern Africa the edge over its competitors?

Himoinsa Southern Africa doesn't want to be a 'dump and run' generator provider, we have 35 years of experience globally and we want to make sure that when we sell a generator to a customer we can back it up with either training or skills development of the local team, which we can do over a three to four month period or even years as was the case with the Angola power plant.

We also offer a best-in-class warranty; 4,000 hours or two years on a prime or continuous operation, which is double the market standard. We believe in giving customers high quality equipment not just in Africa but across the world. Another difference is that we offer longer service intervals of 500 or 1,000 hours, even up to 10,000 hours for some gas genset models, compared to the standard 250 hours. So, we are not only cost-effective in the pricing of our parts being an OEM manufacturer, but customers don't need to change them so often, which is a double saving for them. We, therefore, believe Himoinsa offers a superior project to other players out there in the market.

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