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Innovation and diversification driving change in the distilling and brewery sectors across Africa

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The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted organisations across Africa to invest in distilling facilities for the first time, and prompted existing distillers and brewers to innovate and diversify. This is according to Hendre’ Barnard Training and Marketing Manager at Distillique – one of the partners of food & drink technology Africa trade exhibition.

Barnard says that in South Africa, the majority of craft distillers survived the lockdown and restrictions on alcohol sales; with many of them using the time to innovate and diversify their product lines. “A lot of the companies are now lining up export projects; and others have diversified into new lines such as non-alcoholic beverages,” he says.

The lockdown has had a significant impact on the local market, with a massive increase in home brewing and distilling. “This put strain on the supply chain for raw materials such as yeast: because of demand from home distillers, we were selling 200kg of yeast in one hour at one stage. Where we normally buy 50 – 60kg every two months, we were ordering a ton at a time.”  “Because of bottlenecks in imports, there are still some challenges in the brewing and distilling supply chain”, he says.

Barnard adds that the coming festive season will likely be disappointing in terms of sales. “Right now, craft brewers and distillers are focused on recovering, and some are trying to increase sales direct to the consumer rather than through an intermediary. They should also cut costs wherever possible and not over-produce for the festive season. We don’t know what level of lockdown we will be at this December, and because of the economic impact of the lockdown, there is a chance that sales will be lower than they were last year,” he says.

Pan Africa steps up production

“Elsewhere in Africa, many countries realised they were too dependent on alcohol imports when the pandemic struck, and we now see a surge in interest in distillery equipment across a number of countries.”

Barnard notes that distilling equipment is needed not just for consumable alcohol, but also for industrial alcohol and essential oil distillation. With a surge in demand for alcohol-based sanitisers and a global market for certain essential oils for use in cosmetics, there are growing opportunities for African entrepreneurs to open distilleries to meet demand.

“At food & drink technology Africa, we have an excellent opportunity to engage with delegates from across the continent, showcasing our equipment which has been built and adapted specifically for the unique African environment, where heat, humidity and erratic power are all concerns,” says Barnard.

Fresh interest in brewing, distilling

Barnard reports that home brewing that took place during the ban on alcohol has driven new interest in the art of brewing and distilling, which could be good news for craft brewers and distillers.

Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Brewmaster and founder of Brewsters Craft, which offers contract brewing, consulting, an academy and a laboratory, expects new craft breweries and a great deal of innovation to come out of the lockdown. “We are seeing a lot of interest from people wanting training so they can start their own craft breweries. There is also a lot more product and branding innovation taking place. People are now looking to bring to market new flavours, exciting new products, and even more non-alcoholic craft beverages like ginger beer. The lockdown may have given people time to research brewing, or perhaps they were driven to seek new revenue streams, but coming out of lockdown we see a lot of new activity in this space.”

Nxusani-Mawela is optimistic about the prospects for a good summer holiday season for craft brewers: “I think people are just tired of being stuck at home and they want to go out and explore new things,” she says.

Nxusani-Mawela, who has participated in food & drink technology Africa since 2016 and a partner since 2018, says the trade show gives would-be brewers access to the latest technology and equipment, and allows Africa to showcase its capabilities to international leaders. “Having all the suppliers and buyers from around the world and across Africa in one place makes it important to be there,” she says.

Dain Richardson, Senior Exhibition Manager of food & drink technology Africa, says the pandemic has presented both challenges and opportunities for the food and drink sector across Africa: “We’re hearing encouraging reports of organisations that are starting to pivot and seek new opportunities despite the lockdown and slowed economy,” she says.

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“Partnering with leading industry bodies and stakeholders such as Plastics SA, SAAFFI, Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) Africa Sector, Craft Brewers Association South Africa (CBASA), BICSA, Brewsters Craft and Distillique gives us as the event organisers deep insight into the evolving environment, and allows us to shape our event to address the changing needs of the sector,” she says.

 To help industry stakeholders across the continent to adapt and seize new opportunities, food & drink technology Africa 2021 will focus on emerging technologies and solutions to help modernise operations and improve efficiencies. 

Issued by ITP Communication

Press Release

Journey Wellness, an AI-Enabled, Personalised Healthcare Platform Launches in South Africa

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Journey Wellness Co-Founders, Dr. Jacques Ludik and Lara Wayburne (Image: Nomsa Mdhluli)

Journey Wellness, an AI-Enabled, Personalised Healthcare Platform set to Revolutionize Wellness & Healthcare in South Africa. The Platform will transform business employee benefits and medical schemes’ approach to offering wellness for employees and medical aid members.

A revolutionary new approach to offering Ultra-Personalised, Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Healthcare from tech-trendsetting company Cortex Logic is set to transform the way medical aid schemes, consumers and corporates offering employee benefits as part of their EAP (Employee Assistance Programmes) view their current healthcare offering.

The Journey Wellness platform is perfectly timed to coincide with the current global shift in Healthcare, as the focus moves from a disease-management model to one that encourages optimum health and disease-avoidance, targeting younger as well as existing members with a holistic, pro-active offering.

Corporates and medical schemes are realising that they need to offer their employees and members wellness and EAP benefits that move beyond expensive, reactive, chemical care to cost-effective, proactive preventative primary care.

“Globally, an ever-increasing portion of healthcare spend and focus is shifting to promote wellness and wellbeing, rather than responding to illness,” says Lara Wayburne, a respected Healthcare Actuary consulting to Cortex Logic and part of the development team of the Journey Wellness Platform.

“Healthcare analysts predict that over the coming decade the focus on wellness and wellbeing can reduce overall healthcare costs by as much as 30%.”

“Journey Wellness enables that future by empowering and engaging consumers to better understand the drivers that impact their health and therefore be more actively involved in managing their own health. By doing so, the Journey Wellness ecosystem encourages positive health seeking behaviour, promoting better physical and mental health,” says Wayburne.

The driving force behind Journey Wellness, Dr Jacques Ludik, Founder and CEO of Cortex Logic, who has also recently written a book called ‘Democratizing Artificial Intelligence to Benefit Everyone’, says that the Journey Wellness platform will provide more healthcare, to more people, faster.

“Essentially, Journey is a cost-effective, pro-active, personalised and engaged AI health companion that will improve health outcomes for everyone involved – the medical scheme provider, employers, employees, healthcare providers and ultimately the end-user consumer who will benefit from personalised, proactive healthcare with the added benefits of cost savings all-round,” says Dr Ludik.

Journey Wellness offers a number of benefits for Medical Schemes, Corporates and End-Users:

Employer Groups and Medical Scheme providers will benefit from the cost savings inherent in moving from expensive, reactive, chemical care to cost-effective, proactive preventative primary care for their members and employees. This will result in increased productivity, increased employee engagement, reduced absenteeism and cost-savings to all involved.

Healthcare Providers will benefit from having a 360-degree view of their patients that will improve wellness proactively without costly chemical intervention, usually at the reactive stage and will also empower patients with continuous self-care.

And, Consumers will benefit from a Holistic Wellness Solution and the reduced need for expensive healthcare options, improved wellbeing, rewards for engagement and ultimately having a personalised wellness coach on hand at all times to help them understand their health status and associated risks and better manage their health and improve quality of life.

“Overall, it’s a win-win scenario in which technology, data and analytics foster a collaborative and progressive healthcare environment, creating an ecosystem for improved wellbeing one step at a time that benefits everyone,” says Wayburne.

Journey Wellness has also made an exciting announcement around making the Platform’s Mental Health Module available for free to users from 1 September 2021.

“We realise that the current state of affairs globally, and in South Africa in particular, with pandemic lockdowns and economic uncertainty foremost on our minds, places an enormous amount of pressure on people. So, we’re offering free access to our Mental Health Module to users, where they can access an AI-enabled mental health companion 24/7,” says Dr Ludik.

The Journey Wellness Demo Platform for Corporate Employers and Medical Schemes is available at www.journeywellness.co.za, and for Consumers, the User App is available as a free download for Android and iOS devices at Google Play and App Store. Medical schemes and Employers looking to offer Journey Wellness to their members can interact directly with Journey Wellness by requesting a demo via the website.

 

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Investment

Chaka secures $1.5M pre-seed round to power digital investments and wealth management opportunities across Africa

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Chaka CEO, Tosin Osibodu at a press briefing (Image & Press Release: Chaka)

Chaka is thrilled to announce its $1.5M pre-seed funding round led by Breyer Capital, a global venture firm focused on catalyzing growth in high-impact companies like Spotify, Facebook, and now, Chaka. Other participants in the round are 4DX Ventures, Golden Palm Investments, Future Africa, Seedstars, and Musha Ventures.

Chaka is a technology solutions company on a mission to enable every business and person in Africa to access borderless digital investment and wealth management opportunities. The team combines investment expertise and best-in-class technology to provide reliable digital Investing, trading and wealth management solutions that are easy-to-use and easy-to-integrate.

Their mission is to enable digital border-less investing for African businesses and individuals. They’re powering the digital investment landscape in Africa through partnerships with asset managers, financial technology firms, and regulators with whom we have a shared mission. We achieve this by providing trading solutions that are easy to use and easy to integrate.

With this capital, they will focus on the goals to build a roster of formidable partners and accelerate expansion to other markets within West Africa. This investment also enables them to hire top talent and integrate more advanced functionalities into our investment and wealth management solutions.

Jim Breyer, CEO of Breyer Capital, shared his view on this investment and it illustrates their shared vision: “We are proud to align ourselves with a company that is leveling the investment playing field for Nigerians (and Africans at large). We’re confident in the value Chaka provides through its digital tools, and we look forward to playing our part in supporting Tosin, Bo, Olaolu, and the Chaka team.”

This is a significant milestone for Chaka and could not have come this far without their users, partners, early investors, and a talented, achieving team of Champions.

They see digital investments as a means to boost economic transformation in Africa, and we’re very keen to bring this vision to life.

 

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Manufacturing

Emmanuel Penneh set to lead the Ghanaian team that will re-assemble the first Nissan Navara made in Ghana

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Emmanuel Penneh (Image: Lusawovana Pius- edelman) 

Emmanuel Penneh arrived back in Accra this week, ready to start the next phase of a journey that’s taken three years so far and still has an intensive eight months to run. On Thursday 3 June 2021, the married 44-year-old father of three graduated with his team of 11 Ghanaians from an intense eight-week course at Nissan South Africa’s Rosslyn manufacturing plant outside Pretoria. That was just the first step for them. Now the hard work begins, getting Ghana’s brand-new Nissan assembly plant in Tema, outside Accra, ready to begin re-assembling the first ever Nissan Navaras to be built in Africa early in the New Year.

The graduation is a critical milestone in a process that began back in 2018 with the signing of the landmark Memorandum of Understanding between Nissan and the Government of Ghana, followed by the drafting and promulgation of Ghana’s automotive development policy the following year and then the appointment of Japan Motors Trading Company (JMTC), as Nissan’s preferred partner last year to ensure that the new facility will be 100% Ghana owned and run.

Penneh is up for the challenge. Speaking at the special graduation ceremony held at the Rosslyn, SKD plant, he said he and his team were proud and honoured, excited and delighted. “This is a historic evolution for Nissan Ghana, Nissan South Africa and Nissan worldwide. This is the plant where the Nissan Navara is being made for the first time in Africa, by Africans for Africa, now we are going home to re-assemble the first Navara made in Ghana for Ghana by Ghanaians!”

Penneh will be the plant manager. It’s a feather in the cap for the 10-year JMTC veteran. Before being approached to lead the team, Penneh was service co-ordinator for the group’s aftersales operations, overseeing five workshops across Ghana. He’s been in the automotive industry for 14 years, with four years at Man Truck Ghana before he joined JMTC.

“It’s exciting,” he says, “it gives a new dimension to my career. After concentrating on the after sales aspect, I’m now coming into the industry that actually builds the vehicles.”

The eight-week training that the team underwent in South Africa had been gruelling, he said, they had no idea what to expect. “It was challenging coming fresh into this industry and discovering so many processes and rules and mastering them, but it’s been exciting.”

He’s exceptionally proud of the team he led to South Africa and the way they’ve conducted themselves. “This (the creation of a Nissan assembly plant in Ghana) is going to be a game changer for ourselves, but also for our country, creating jobs, upskilling people and creating opportunities for local brand ownership.”

 

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