Africa Rising: Africa is moving from a continent plagued with war, famine and disease to one of fast growing economies and increased foreign investment driven by the unlocking of its vast mineral and energy resources.

During his recent visit to South Africa, commenting on China and other emerging powers’ trade and investment in Africa, US President Barrack Obama stated, “The more countries invested in Africa, the more the world’s least developed continent could be integrated into the global economy”.

Africa needs to invest heavily in its infrastructure to grow its industrial production. Roads, railways, ports and airports need to be introduced to ensure the success of the multibillion dollar mining and energy projects currently being undertaken. In the often remote and harsh African environment, corrosion protection of these assets is essential, as is thermal insulation.

The importance of protection of production assets cannot be overemphasized. It is essential to improve, maintain and protect one’s assets – protection of new plant and equipment and the rehabilitation of existing will extend the working life of your assets.


    Recent discoveries of new oil & gas reserves in countries like Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique has resulted in Africa’s global share of reserves growing from 8% in 2000 to 13% this year. There is potential for enormous exploration frontiers in Africa, both onshore and offshore.

    The world’s oil Super Majors are being attracted to invest vast sums in the region, adding substantial net wealth to Africa, inducing higher economic growth and regional development.

    In addition to the continent’s powerhouse of mining, South Africa, there are vast undeveloped resources in Africa. Huge coal discoveries in Mozambique, gold in the DRC and iron ore in Sierra Leone, for example, have led to mushrooming mining activity. The challenge is in monetizing all of this.

    New mining projects on an unprecedented scale have begun throughout the continent, carried out by Super Majors such as Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

    Existing mining operations in regions like the Copper Belt in Zambia/ DRC continually attract the world’s largest mining houses to set up new ventures. These operations demand constant maintenance to keep production efficiency at optimum levels.


    Africa, home to many of the world’s fastest growing economies, is experiencing a demand for electricity which is outpacing production. There is a dire need to increase the use of available resources on the continent.

    South Africa is largely dependent on coal for its power needs and is currently constructing two giant new coal-fired stations to bolster the overburdened national grid. Coal is also used to feed the vibrant synthetic fuel industry in the country.

    Like other African countries, South Africa is looking to alternative and renewable energy sources for the future of power generation. The country continues to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and is investigating new processes to supplement the dated technology at its Koeberg Nuclear Power Station.

    There is no doubt that gas is to play a major role in the future of global energy supply. Once Africa installs the necessary infrastructure; it has this commodity in abundance.

    Like elsewhere in the world, Africa has financial, political and social barriers to overcome with regards to renewable energy programmes, but ample solar, wind, hydro and biomass resources exist, that properly harnessed, could change the energy picture in Africa.


    There is a disconnect between Africa producing 12% of the world’s oil, but refining only 3.6%. The continent’s refining capacity is unchanged for the last 20 years, so infrastructure is aging and technology is outdated.

    The challenge facing sustainability in this sector lies between the huge investment needed for replacement, the on-going cost of maintenance and the option of mothballing the plants and importing petroleum products. The substantial economic significance of the sector (e.g. 5% of SA’s GDP) and the need for energy security make mothballing and unattractive option.