Etana Construction & Engineering: Looking forward to the challenges of building a sustainable future
The South African government has announced a joint venture with a Swiss company Lonza to reduce the cost of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.
The project, named Ketlaphela, which means “I will live or survive” in Sotho, was created with an investment of more than R1-billion and will be built at the Pelindaba site in Gauteng. This project is being driven by a vast local and regional need for cheaper ARVs, which was recently highlighted by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi who said his department spent R4.2-billion on ARVs in 2011.
Local companies already produce generic drugs for HIV, but all the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) have to be imported, which have a number of cost implications. Currently South Africa imports more than R25-billion worth of these drugs annually. Producing APIs locally will greatly reduce the cost of HIV, TB and malaria medication.
The strategic advantage of this site is based on the fact that South Africa has the second largest deposits of fluorspar (a form of calcium fluoride used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals) globally.
Through the state-run company Pelchem and this partnership with Lonza, South Africa will attempt to increase the beneficiation of the mineral which can account for 75% of the cost of medication.
This initiative is in line with a number of infrastructure developments included in the recent State of the Nation Address, in which President Jacob Zuma announced the government’s intention to enhance local infrastructure - including the likes of Transnet.
Transnet looks set to spend R300-billion on projects over seven years, including links that would enable it to transport 82-million tons of iron ore a year, up from 60-million tons, the President has said. Furthermore, Transnet will build a railway line to carry 16-million tons of manganese a year to the Coega port on the Eastern Cape coast.
The current infrastructure development proposals have got Etana’s Construction, Engineering and Guarantees department in conversation about the future.
Nick Swart, head of Construction, Engineering and Guarantees at Etana Insurance, says, “Additional infrastructure is a critical catalyst to new industry development and growth. It will make job creation possible. However, it will take a lot more than big spending to get these projects off the ground. Unfortunately the South African construction industry has a number of capacity constraints - apart from financing, a skills shortage could be a significant barrier to these projects.
“These projects are also very complex as they involve the maintenance and upgrading of existing infrastructure, as well as the construction of new add-ons.
“However, what is fantastic about this environment is that it provides a number of opportunities and challenges for the insurance industry to contend with. Here at Etana we pride ourselves on our expertise in dealing with such complexity and look forward to applying our rich skill set to the infrastructure developments in South Africa, as they commence in the short to medium term.”