NDANGWA MWITTAH, Lusaka
IT IS an unhidden secret that no country has ever been able to achieve meaningful national development without the active participation of the private sector, particularly entities led by indigenous entrepreneurs.
Talk about the United States of America, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan or China, the story told about the trajectories of these various economic outlooks is that indigenous companies have taken the lead in national development.
In its own way, Zambia has, over the years, witnessed massive infrastructure development that has led to the opening up of the country’s hinterland to ever-growing investor interest.
President Edgar Lungu is on record as having been continuously encouraging Zambian entrepreneurs to take the lead in national development by proving that their workmanship is good enough to compete with foreign contractors that have been getting the bulk of government contracts.
In essence, what this implies is that contracts for quality workmanship should be awarded to deserving bidders who have a track record as having performed to the expectations of the Zambian procurement authorities.
Being a Zambian-owned company may be a critical criterion for winning a tender, but only on condition that the workmanship is not inferior to that being offered by foreign contractors.
A number of Zambian companies have taken heed of President Lungu’s call for quality workmanship, and among these is Savenda Management Services Limited, a company that prides itself in being a well-established global player in procurement and logistics solutions.
This global supply-chain management company has continued to maintain a wide network of partners, not only in Africa but also the United States of America, Middle-East, European Union, and Asia-Pacific regions.
Savenda has, thus, brought to Zambia its global experience in servicing the mines, telecommunications, energy, agricultural, automotive, petro-chemical and medical fields, as Clever Mpoha, the international company’s business development director for Africa, now explains:
“As Savenda, we are alive to the call by His Excellency, President Edgar Lungu for indigenous investors to take an upper hand in developing our country. We wholeheartedly endorse the President’s challenge. It’s for this reason that we believe that we are conveniently placed because, although we are locally-based, we act global.”
Savenda has been involved in Zambia’s construction industry for a long time, a fact that has been alluded to by various government officials who have paid tribute to the company’s quality of work in whatever project it has been tasked to undertake.
For 20 years now, Savenda has been involved in the construction of roads, schools, office accommodation, private homes and the provision of various services and products in a wide range of areas, including high-quality landscaping.
The company has also provided management services to the government in the distribution of various educational materials such as desks to schools dotted along the length and breadth of Zambia.
On the international front, Savenda’s landmark project was when it was contracted by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to airlift Angolan refugees from Zambia to Angola through charter services.
“That was a very huge task that could not have been given to us without a thorough background check. That was a mark of confidence in our ability to perform at the highest level. We are proud to have been asked to play that noble role of airlifting our displaced brothers and sisters back to their country of origin,” adds Mr Mpoha.
Savenda is now recognised as one of the leading names in aircraft chartering, and the continued year-on-year growth means that the company’s revenue currently exceeds US$2m per year.
It maintains an aircraft database and manages up-to-the-minute information on the movements and availability of over 50,000 aircraft worldwide. This means that the company is able to efficiently provide transport and logistical services for goods from suppliers to designated places around the world.
It is by virtue of Savenda’s reliability that it has so far been contracted to transport and distribute goods for many companies, institutions and non-governmental organisations which include the World Bank, USAID, the United Nations, and Project Concern. “Our vision has always been to be the most preferred market leader in procurement logistics solutions globally, and this is exactly what we have replicated on the local scene where we have been ensuring that our services satisfy the end-user,” adds Mr Mpoha, whose company also provides transportation and logistics solutions to its sister company in Burundi.
He says Savenda also manages cement exports to Burundi on behalf of its sister company in that country.
Mr Mpoha says the company’s initial focus at its inception was to ensure that it contributed to the reduction in the cost of doing business, so that the Zambian people could afford to procure various services without worrying about their bank balance.
In trying to meet its obligations of efficiency with a view to offering specialised services, Savenda set out to divide the company into various divisions which include Savenda Construction, Irca Savenda, Savenda Mining, Savenda Logistics, Savenda Express Printing and Savenda Medicals.
“It hasn’t been an easy road, but we have endeavoured to do our very best to our country. You can ask anyone who has been a beneficiary of our services, and they will tell you about the quality of our workmanship. That is a standard we shall never ever compromise,” explains Mr Mpoha.
For some time now, Savenda has also been an active participant in Zambia’s match towards telecommunication advancement as it provides spares and services used in mobile telecommunication towers.
Furthermore, the company has been a reliable partner to the corporate world as it has been involved in the provision of corporate promotional materials.
Mr Mpoha further pays tribute to the Zambian government for its support to local investors who have been competing with foreign companies for contracts in various sectors of the economy.
“The competition out there is rough, but we have been equal to the task. The most important thing is to be able to provide services similar to, or even better than, what foreign contractors are offering. To that end, our record is there for everyone to see. We can only thank the Zambian government for continuing to believe in us.”
He also stresses that despite the company being a player in global business, it has continued to play a major role in responding to President Lungu’s call for participation at local level.
“We have now re-positioned ourselves to be an active participant in the development of Zambia’s economy because it can only take us to move our country’s economy forward. That’s why we have taken keen interest in participating in the government’s infrastructure development around the country,” Mr Mpoha explains.