What are the unique competitive advantages of South Africa?
South Africa is a country that comes out of a past that the world is aware of and we are seen through those lenses. As a country, we have been through a transformation agenda of which I am a product. That did not come on a silver platter; it had to come with hard work and innovation. The success of any entrepreneur is preceded by creating and spotting opportunities. I have partners in Canada, India, England and Germany who have come to South Africa to see if there is anything worthwhile, and none of them have left disappointed.
They celebrate the value of this country.
How do you envision Mbuyelo playing a role in the social transformation of South Africa?
We see ourselves as a social-corporate citizen and we play that part with passion. However, you need to be careful in how you keep the balance. Our key focus is innovation, so whatever social investment we look into, we encourage the general community to be innovative. If we look at the progression of the world, there was a time when we were in the Stone Age, then the Iron Age, and now we are in the Digital Age. We don’t know what will be next. The truth is, we need to stimulate our environment through our various projects to ensure that people can stand up and develop themselves.
What role do you see coal and Mbuyelo playing in energy security in South Africa?
Mbuyelo is a versatile company as far as energy security is concerned. We need to understand where the country is coming from, as well as the fact that energy was only available to the few until recently. We now have a situation where we have to stretch to cover as many people as possible. As Mbuyelo, we spotted that opportunity, we have made a meaningful contribution to the country’s energy need, through coal supply to the power utility Eskom. The country’s previous energy problems are managed completely different today owing to the part Mbuyelo plays in energy security.
We also know the global challenges that the world is dealing with. It would be unfair to have selective amnesia from my side and not talk about the fact that coal is, to a certain extent, under siege. We have to deal with a balancing act as we look at coal as an energy source while looking at the issue of carbon emissions.
Again, the operative word is innovation. Innovation needs to come in to solve our energy problems, not just South Africa but globally as well. The world cannot simply replace coal and bring a ready-made energy solution. That process has to be a transition and coal can play its part during that transition.
We are thinking beyond coal and looking for other opportunities, such as energy sources from solar and wind turbines amongst others, which in the long run can play a part in solving the world’s problems.
What makes you so attractive for foreign partners?
Something Mbuyelo does not encourage is going to investors with cap in hand. We go out there with a compelling story. To build a compelling story for any investor to look at, we start off by being very disciplined. Our point of departure is that we have to look at growth into other energy solutions as a business opportunity. This is embedded in our long-term objectives.
Our appetite for investors is large and our able and resourceful team is ready to take the value of their investment to the next level. Our doors are open to investors.
What message of confidence about South Africa would you leave for our readers?
South Africa is our launch pad, but our vision is set beyond South Africa.
People should understand that South Africa is resourceful- and Mbuyelo is a resourceful company. The mist will come from time to time, but given our rich history, and as the song says – “tough times never last, but tough people do.” Nothing will take away the resources in the country and the people of this country will defend what they have with their lives.