Innovation at the heart of recovery for Africa’s hospitality sector

The 2022 Hotel & Hospitality Show, organised by dmg events, kicked off on 19 May at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg – the first in-person event of its kind since the pandemic struck the tourism and leisure industry in South Africa. Attended by thousands of leading stakeholders from within the private and public sectors, event speakers hailed innovation as the key to survival within the sector, after an immensely challenging period.

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President of Botswana confirmed to attend Mining Indaba 2022

Expanding and developing Botswana’s natural resources sector

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Building momentum for innovative engineering solutions

In the real world, breakthrough innovations seldom happen by chance or luck; they are best built steadily from years of experience and structured collaboration, according to global engineers and scientists SRK Consulting.

In today’s digital world, there are opportunities aplenty for apps, gadgets and clever inventions. The real challenge, however, is to build continuous improvement into a company’s workstream – so that staff and customers alike can build on experience and past achievements for a smarter future. According to SRK Consulting managing director Vis Reddy, the company has for many years been recognised for its technical innovation; now it is taking the process up a notch.

“As a global network, SRK has always believed in the power of collaboration – especially across disciplines and global regions – and the digital era has offered tools to enhance this,” said Reddy. “With the organisation now spread across 45 offices worldwide, it is not always easy to leverage the full extent of all the experience on offer.”

Since about six years ago, the company has been actively consolidating its efforts to further entrench innovation through systematic collaboration across practices and countries. In South Africa, this includes regular innovation workshops, which have in recent years embraced online communication. These platforms have also allowed greater international engagement, networking, sharing ideas and innovations across continents.

“Many of these discussions focus on the value opportunities in gathering, analysing and sharing data across the organisation,” he said. “Projects that we engage in often generate vast amounts of data to be processed, but the sharing of results and lessons learnt can be of great benefit to colleagues in similar fields in other offices.”

He highlighted the increasing pace of work allowed by ever-improving software and computer power, and that client expectations were continually evolving to expect results faster. The speed in itself, though, was only one benefit; the more important aspect of automated processes, for instance, was providing more time and better data on which analysis could be conducted.

Tracey Drew, a senior environmental scientist and the head of the company’s Data Services Department, also providing strategic innovation support, noted that a company’s success in innovation could be reflected in its ability to solve traditional problems, and to accelerate business activities, processes and competencies. The way that technology is embraced should also allow change in the ways people work, and in the opportunities, they have for providing new solutions.

“Among the forums we use to share ideas and promote innovation in our daily working lives are our lunch time presentation events,” said Drew. “This is an informal lunch-time event where a presenter shares their useful experience, invention or idea as a learning opportunity for others – inspiring comment and collaboration.”

According to Xanthe Adams, the principal engineer who pioneered the innovation workshops at SRK and digital transformation specialist: water sector, many of our innovations that the company’s engineers and scientists develop make working processes more productive, while the best ones help implement or even improve good industry practice.

Data science is an increasingly important foundation for much of SRK’s work (Image: SRK Consulting).

“Data science is an increasingly important foundation for much of our work, allowing us to develop effective and novel solutions on which clients can rely,” said Adams. “Using modern sensors to help generate more accurate and reliable data, for instance, allows us to move onto the next step of developing smart solutions with better results.”

Water monitoring is one field which can contribute significantly to South Africa’s water challenges, and technology is opening doors for new ways to manage and protect this valuable resource. She said the process of remote water monitoring is well developed, and data from sensors can now be streamed wirelessly for real time analysis.

Real innovation comes by harnessing the Internet-of-Things in a complete system that addresses a client’s risk (Image: SRK Consulting).

“Real innovation comes by harnessing the Internet-of-Things in a complete system that addresses a client’s water risk,” she said. “If a data source and pre-designed algorithms can be applied to a real-time chemical analysis of a water stream, for instance, it could be possible to alert the owner to the actual source of unacceptable levels of certain chemicals.”

Larger volumes of accurate data – or ‘big data’ – are also becoming vital where historical data may no longer be a reliable guide for the future. With climate change, for example, it is no longer enough to rely on the past century of rainfall data to determine bloodlines when designing civil or other structures close to natural water courses, said Reddy.

“When determining the appropriate design parameters for decades into the future, we are needing to rely far more on the climate and rainfall patterns from the last five years to identify new trends,” he said. “This means we need the necessary tools to extract every clue we can from the more recent data, which often requires new methods and technologies.”

SRK’s reputation for quality studies, integrity and independent advice have laid a foundation to collaborate closely with clients on pushing technological boundaries, said Drew.

“Innovation is most effective when it can underpin or accompany a practical solution for a client or industry,” she said. “As SRK continues to build its own in-house innovation channels and forums, we foresee even more constructive contributions both to clients’ actual projects and to broader industry practice.”

With innovation as a cornerstone value, SRK Consulting encourages its engineers and scientists to share and evolve their technology tools – many of which leverage the power of big data.

Pushing these boundaries achieves:

  • More productive work processes
  • Improved industry practice
  • Accurate and reliable data
  • Smart solutions
  • Insights into climate change
  • Effective responses to changing conditions
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Innovation in the air: The benefits of health-focused HVAC solutions

When you enter a home or building, the first thing that’s never on your mind is the air you’re breathing. You may comment on the temperature or humidity, but that peace of mind is thanks to the space having an appropriate HVAC system that’s working hard to make it serene and safe by distributing clean air.

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Sika MonoTop® Range

Sika is all about innovation. We pride ourselves by continuously developing new technologies to enhance our product range in the construction industry.

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INVITATION: Young Engineers Webinar Series

INVITATION – Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa – The pulp and paper sector has partnered with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) through the Sector Innovation Fund to promote research, development and innovation. 

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Game-changing initiative to fight youth unemployment in the township

Youth unemployment is the single biggest threat to the future of South Africa. According to Errol Freeman, CEO of Lulalab, pilot projects can provide an innovative solution to address the high unemployment rate among young people in the township.

To address the rate of unemployment in the township, Lulalab initiated the Letsatsi Water Project, a programme that will create jobs and improve living conditions in township households.

“The project is implemented to improve the living conditions and hygienic practices of township households while creating jobs in the process,” says Freeman.

The Lulalab Early Employment Support programme was born in 2016 as a sister organisation to Lulalway Holdings, in order to focus exclusively on social impact projects and increase their reach and impact within communities.

“We find innovative ways to create sustainable jobs for youth while solving the country’s pressing social problems, like skills shortage, entrepreneur support and sanitation. We are committed to lasting impact so all our solutions are research-informed and meticulously monitored.”

Errol Freeman, CEO of Lulalab

The Early Employment Support programme successfully executed its first project late last year in Hopefield, Soweto, where they installed gravity solar geysers to 25 houses.

Freeman says this programme is a significant impact to the youth unemployment crisis. This opportunity can create new jobs and change lives at household and community level.

“The proposed intervention aims to provide an innovative solution to address the current challenges facing people daily in the townships and to assist in providing unemployed township youth with the opportunity to manufacture, install and maintain gravity-fed solar-powered geysers within their communities,” concludes Freeman.

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SA Innovation Summit 2020: Taking Africa to the World

For the very first time in its 13-year history, the SA Innovation Summit (SAIS) – the largest start-up event in Africa – will be taking place virtually on 30 September and 1 October 2020, connecting the start-up ecosystem across countries and continents.

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