SC&T office spotlight: Johannesburg

As the strongest economy in Southern Africa, and the second biggest in Africa as a whole, South Africa plays an important role both regionally and on the world stage. With a population of nearly 60 million, South Africa is the sixth most populous nation on its continent and is recognized for both natural and cultural diversity.

Samsung C&T established a base in this emerging market boasting abundant natural resources in 1976. The company’s Johannesburg Office is among dozens that Samsung C&T Trading & Investment Group has dotted around the world. Johannesburg may not be a capital city, but it is South Africa’s largest urban area and a center of commerce.

In this latest edition of our Samsung C&T Office Spotlight series, we will take a closer look at the main business areas covered by the company’s Johannesburg Office. In particular, the office has made important strides in the areas of sourcing raw materials for metal products and trading fertilizers.

Samsung C&T’s Johannesburg Office (left) organizes transportation of raw materials across Africa (right)

Reaching across the world

An important part of the Johannesburg Office’s work is sourcing raw materials for metal products such as electrolytic copper cathodes.

One of the keys to success when sourcing raw materials in Africa is to operate logistics efficiently and in a stable manner by securing various transportation routes to promptly respond to any local circumstances that may arise. To achieve this, it is necessary to think quickly, establish strong relationships, and utilize security personnel and technology such as location tracing. Due to the size of the continent, there can be various logistical challenges when transporting raw materials from mines and smelters in central areas to coastal ports. So, the Johannesburg Office’s staff need to consider any potential hurdles very carefully.

For instance, the office sources electrolytic copper cathodes from African mines located inland and sells them on to end users in Asia, including China and South Korea. It takes as long as two months to transport materials produced in the continent’s landlocked mines and smelting factories to the coast and then to deliver them to end users via sea routes. A particularly challenging moment came when Mozambique was hit by its worst ever cyclone in March 2019, and the office made a bold decision to change the destinations of trucks loading raw materials to ports in other countries that were not damaged by the cyclone. As a result, it was possible to maintain operational efficiency and meet delivery schedules.

The Johannesburg Office has been able to establish long-term relationships and trust with local mining and logistics companies, including by being sensitive to various parties’ needs and being quick to handle challenges and emergencies.

Helping green shoots grow

For many African countries, agriculture is a vital source of income. This also means they face a battle if they are affected by factors such as barren soil and unsuitable weather. Amid interest from regional governments in promoting agricultural reform, the Johannesburg Office has been meeting demand for fertilizers to help improve production.

The market situation for fertilizers has been changing rapidly in Africa as a whole. In fact, the use of fertilizers on the continent is actually increasing by more than 5 percent annually. The Johannesburg Office’s strategy is to supply the most competitive products exactly when and where they are needed.

This accuracy of supply requires understanding trends and changes in the fertilizer market across Africa, and developing good communication with trading partners. In addition, it is necessary to not only grasp their needs but also to secure various sourcing partners. In the case of chemical fertilizers, it is particularly important to be able to offer varied products for different purposes in order to obtain the best results in light of cost efficiency.

So, the Johannesburg Office delivers desired fertilizers at the optimal price by sourcing them from various countries according to the needs of local end users in Africa.

Looking across hurdles with optimism

From a cyclone in 2019 to the challenges of 2020, the Johannesburg Office has had to deal with its fair share of recent hurdles. The office’s secret in leaping over them has been its people. They are all equipped with professional knowledge and skills along with their passion. In addition, the office is recognized by partners in Africa as “a well-established and reliable partner that provides real support and solves problems.”

Though there have been some logistical challenges this year in particular, the team has been able to achieve its goals by cementing long-term relationships with partners and cooperating with the company’s headquarters. It has thereby been able to further expand its business portfolio in areas such as the electrolytic copper cathode and fertilizer businesses.

Perhaps inspired by the spark that copper conducts or the growth that fertilizers encourage, the Johannesburg Office naturally hopes to be a springboard for the discovery of new business areas going forward.

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