‘Think out the Box’ says MEMSA CEO

There is no doubt after conversing with new MEMSA CEO, Lehlohonolo Molloyi, that he is a man on a mission. Molloyi, who is enthusiastic about the difference that MEMSA can make for its members – all of whom are local mining equipment manufacturers in South Africa, has hit the ground running having already put in place a number of new initiatives. 

MEMSA, a collective that works with and supports local South African mining manufacturing companies, stands by its core requirement which is that all member companies must be BEE compliant, commit to sourcing 60% locally and be at least 26% South African owned. 

Molloyi believes strongly that South Africa’s local mining manufacturers must strive to work as a collective to gain a stronger foothold in the country’s mining sector. “When local mining manufacturers come together and support each other, they gain ground as a formidable group of entrepreneurs, whose combined knowledge and skills can take South African mining innovation to the next level.”

Foreign versus local

Molloyi believes strongly that we need to see a lot more innovation occurring in South Africa. “It is quite clear that the IP (intellectual property) issue of foreign OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) needs to be addressed,” he stresses. “Too many foreign entities hold onto key technologies and at some point, we need to find ways to bring innovation back into the hands of local South African manufacturers. This innovation then needs to be shared with the rest of the continent.

“Foreign OEMs hold a sizeable share of the market but if these companies are serious about the future of mining on the African continent they should share their intellectual property and allow the rest of the continent to have access to it.”  

“Take the Sibanye-Stillwater / Wits DigiMine initiative,” explains Molloyi. “This is a clear example that South African higher learning institutions, together with mining manufacturers, have what it takes to be global leaders in innovation and mining IP. But these successes only happen when we share knowledge and work as a collective for the benefit of all – not only in the South African market but beyond our borders into the Southern Africa market too.”  

A growing membership

MEMSA’s relationship with the Mandela Mining Precinct and institutions of higher learning has positioned it well in the market, however, because it is not an institution that has been around for a long time, Molloyi says the cluster needs to ‘think out the box’ to get recognition from industry players. And this it is doing with great success. 

“We need to grow our members to attract many more mining manufacturers who would benefit tangibly from collaborations specific to their supply chain needs. Ultimately, we need to get to a point where every mine manager or CEO recognises that MEMSA can help their entity,” says Molloyi.

MEMSA is a firm advocate of introducing its members to other manufacturers, and Molloyi stands resolutely behind this stance:  “Members must support members to gain strength in numbers and we as a cluster must continue to build and work on these introductions,” he says. One member may produce scaffolding for the market, and another may produce the nuts and bolts. By introducing these two members to each other, we can help them to offer joint solutions to mining entities. I am proud to say that these introductions have already taken place, and it is gratifying to see that we can be effective as a cluster.

“If local mining manufacturers are to survive in an ever competitive market, ongoing collaboration between business, research institutes and unions will be the most effective means of growing the country’s mining manufacturing sector into a sustainable enterprise. MEMSA is working tirelessly to facilitate these collaborations. Two recent member visits to the Wits DigiMine and University of Pretoria VR Centre have proved very productive,” says Molloyi.