While the word ‘re-industrialise’ crops up quite often, Government is conspiculously absent when it comes to really motivating and actioning this but, fortunately, big business is putting money into upskilling manufacturing across the African contient.
Listed groups Illovo Africa, Metair, TFG and vehicle manufacturer, Toyota SA Motors (TSAM), together pledged an investment of R18-million in the Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing Studies (TWIMS).
TWIMS, which as an academic partnership with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), is South Africa’s only manufacturing-focused business school and research institution.
The multi-year investment will fund the creation of four dedicated research chairs. Each chair will focus on a particular burning issue relating to the advancement of manufacturing on the continent.
“We hold that the only way for an economy to grow sustainably is through industrialisation. Unfortunately, South Africa has lagged the rest of the developing world in harnessing manufacturing for this purpose and it is even more pronounced for the rest of the continent. We thank the corporate sponsors for their generous investment, which will go a long way towards addressing this issue,” says TWIMS Chairman, Dr Johan van Zyl.
TWIMS has identified four key areas for further research. They are African Trade and Industrialisation, Green Manufacturing, Future Manufacturing and Lean Management. These areas will now be funded by Illovo Africa, Metair, TFG and TSAM respectively.
“Our research shows South Africa’s manufacturing sector has developed sub-optimally over the last two decades. In the 20 years to 2018, South Africa’s average value addition per capita through manufacturing was only 0,5%, compared to 8% in Vietnam and 5,7% in India,” says Justin Barnes, Executive Director of TWIMS and an Associate Professor at GIBS.
“These numbers do not reflect the immense capacity for economic growth that lies dormant in South Africa and Africa. We urgently need to develop a passion for and commitment to manufacturing in order to unlock our economic growth and benefit from the rapid change in technology that we currently see around the world.”
African Trade and Industrialisation.
Says Gavin Dalgleish, Group MD of Illovo Sugar Africa: “Africa’s manufacturing sector is ideally positioned for significant growth across different industries in the continent – creating considerable opportunity for investment and sustainable jobs. As the continent’s biggest sugar producer, we are very excited to be partnering with TWIMS for the advancement of African Manufacturing Leadership and Trade and Industrialisation, which isan initiative that aligns perfectly with our Illovo purpose – Thriving African Community. “
Says Riaz Haffejee, CEO of Metair: “Given our exposure to the automotive industry and own efforts in adopting more environmentally friendly mobility options, we felt that sponsoring the Green Manufacturing programme is an excellent fit for Metair. In addition to the drive for more sustainable automotive products in operation and at end of life, vehicle manufacturers are placing increasing importance on green manufacturing processes. This is a trend that is likely to intensify across industries in coming years and poses a very interesting opportunity. More so, sustainability is a global imperative that should be top priority for every business and society to ensure that future generations can benefit from Earth’s bounty.”
Says Anthony Thunstrom, CEO of TFG: “Technology is advancing at an ever-increasing pace. The subsequent disruption of manufacturing and management practices is both a threat and an opportunity for African manufacturers. We hope that with our investment in the creation of a Research Chair in Future Manufacturing, we will be able to help position the country and continent to benefit from this change.”
Says Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of TSAM: “Manufacturers have to constantly innovate and adapt to remain viable and profitable. This is especially true given the many disruptions to our logistical infrastructure, electricity supply, labour force and raw material inputs. To best address this, we need skilled managers who are well versed in the specific challenges of a manufacturing organisation. Toyota is the father of lean manufacturing and the practice of lean management. We are proud to support TWIMS and the Lean Management Research Chair.”
TWIMS was established in November 2018 as a way to address the shortage of business managers with manufacturing expertise and to support research, policy creation and industrialisation of South Africa and the continent.
The school was made possible thanks to a generous endowment of R56-million from the Toyota South Africa Educational Trust (TSAET). TSAET later made a second endowment of R70-million for the creation of a dedicated scholarship for students to participate in the GIBS manufacturing-focused Master of Business Administration (MBA). TWIMS has subsequently established a further scholarship for students from across the continent to attend the various manufacturing short courses on offer.
Since welcoming its first cohort of manufacturing-focused MBA students in 2019, TWIMS has grown its campus with a new 80-seat Harvard-style auditorium, several academic break-out rooms, and even a gym and swimming pool to complement the on-site accommodation. Moreover, TWIMS is in the process of investing in a technology exploration centre that it calls a ‘Management Sandbox’.
Earlier this year, the first cohort of GIBS MBA students completed their studies. At the same time, TWIMS welcomed the third group of MBA students, as well as its first Doctoral student. This brings the number of post-graduate manufacturing-focused GIBS students on campus to 80. A third of these students benefit from the TSEAT Scholarship and over two thirds of all students come from designated groups.
With its focus on developing executives with world-class expertise in manufacturing, TWIMS has also developed a range of Executive Short Courses (ESCs) focusing on Future Manufacturing, Green Manufacturing, Lean Operations Management, Lean Supply Chain Management, Women as Manufacturing Leaders, African Industrialisation and Sustainable Finance. A number of more general courses, taught by academic specialists from GIBS, are also delivered on campus, including Strategy, Innovation and Design Thinking and The Art of Negotiation.