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A reflection on the 2020 SONA and budget speech

By: Kolosa Madikizela (PrCM, PrCPM, PMP) – Managing Director Pragma Africa

The proper management of physical assets is essential to the wellbeing of our society. As I step into my role as Pragma’s MD for Africa, this realisation is confirmed daily. Similarly, our latest State of the Nation Address (SONA), by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Budget Speech, by Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni, highlight the Governments’ concern for the protection of our public assets and need for responsible physical asset management.

The SONA sets out our country’s annual strategy, and its initiatives as Government and what the focus areas are, while the budget speech outlines how these will be funded. South Africans know all too well that our public assets, like water reticulation infrastructure, parks, hospitals, roads and the likes, are severely stressed and need urgent and robust, but sustainable maintenance action plans.

When reviewing the SONA, I could not help but relate a number of the topics the president raised to our strategic objectives as a business.

Developing maintenance master plans for our clients is what our engineers live for. During the past 30 years, Pragma has built solid partnerships with companies operating in sectors such as mining, oil and gas and manufacturing. Through our initiatives, we have ensured that the enterprise assets of our clients are well managed while balancing performance, cost and risk. Inclusive growth was a clear theme in the SONA a key strategy of Pragma is to grow an inclusive business through strategic partnerships with our clients, while we also assist them in achieving their growth targets.

The focus for this year for Government and I believe many South African organisations, is to ensure the fundamentals are intact. To achieve this, a back to basics approach is needed. Our starting point is always to ensure that the fundamentals of asset maintenance and management are in place. Excellence in planning and execution is always at the core of our service offering at clients as set out on our road map.

Pragma Enterprise Asset Management Roadmap
Pragma Enterprise Asset Management Road Map

The major challenges we face in our country today are directly linked to the availability and reliability of resources, be it electricity, water, food, education – the fundamental building blocks of a thriving society. At Pragma, availability and reliability are at the very heart of our service offering. Without a reliable asset base, no organisation can provide sustained services to its clientele. We are a business that enables organisations to restore and maintain their assets’ operational capabilities.

We have the tools and systems that enable us to offer world-class enterprise asset management solutions to our clients. As an example, our Asset Management Improvement Planning (AMIP) business process is used to determine a client’s asset management maturity. AMIP also identifies opportunities to improve client’s existing asset management practices in line with current best practices. This tool, is our key differentiator, as it enables us to provide an objective view of our client’s asset performance that creates a basis on which we can work from in providing the required sustainable solution.

With the current economic crisis in our country, it is not only Government and state-owned enterprises that are struggling with cash flow and lack of funding for capital projects. Many organisations are experiencing the same challenges. We have seen the huge impact of this on the construction sector as a result of the slow rate of infrastructure development. In tough economic times, as we have seen outlined in the budget speech, it becomes even more imperative to ensure our existing assets and infrastructure is not failing us.

When the cost reduction becomes so many organisations’ priority, I know that a company like Pragma is genuinely relevant in these times. Why? Because we are positioned to assist organisations in reducing their costs through the use of sound, sustainable asset and maintenance management master plans with strict performance measures.

In his budget speech, the minister of finance pledged a massive infrastructure drive through R200 billion project funding from the Development Bank of Southern Africa and R10 billion from Government. Good news, indeed. But, will we get it right to ensure that the long-term maintenance strategies, needed to protect and extend the life cycles of these assets, are considered at the development stage of these projects this time around? It is also imperative that while we plan for these infrastructures, we make use of new technologies, such as IIoT, into these developments and ensure that the construction material is sustainable.

My take away from the 2020 SONA and budget speech are that enterprise asset management and sustainable maintenance strategies play a critical role in South Africa’s journey towards full economic recovery. At the core of our economic challenges is a “dying” and dilapidated asset base and infrastructure, which requires urgent investment. Although we’re going through hard and often sad times, I am still excited to be South African. We are resolute people who always rise and overcome our challenges. But I am even more excited to be the Managing Director of a business that I believe has an essential and critical role to play in the recovery of our economy and can contribute to the restoration of a prosperous society.

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