Through systems integration, East Africa can profit from its abundant mineral resources without falling into the pitfalls that have befallen other resource-rich developing nations.

 

The future of mining in East African nations such as Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania looks bright. New exploration efforts have led to discoveries of major mineral and natural gas deposits, while increased political and macro-economic stability mean that multinationals that would otherwise have overlooked the region are realistically beginning to consider major investments in the area.

 

However, this is only the beginning of a long path. Resources alone cannot lead to economic and human development, as evidenced by the so-called “resource curse” that has plagued so many mineral-rich nations, in which poverty stays the same or even increases. To see tangible gains, industry players need to get the most out of the available resources and ensure that this translates into profits.

 

Thankfully, the advent of analytics, mobile and cloud-based technologies amongst others is a powerful force against the resource curse. These allow for the implementation of integrated ICT infrastructures based around data mobility, something that is proven to lead to optimisation and cost-effectiveness.  Here are five ways in which mining companies can reduce operational costs through this approach:

 

Transparency

Corruption has been found to have a tremendously debilitating impact on sub-Saharan Africa’s extraction industries. Greater compliance is necessary, and one of the most effective ways of combating the insidious effects of graft is to cultivate visibility in the supply chain. Systems integration allows for higher visibility through encouraging a more open culture of data sharing and collaboration.

Tools such as data and memory analytics allow for unprecedented transparency as they allow managerial structures incredible insight into the running of their organisation. Financial inconsistencies can easily be weeded out and dealt with in real time through smart accounting solutions.

 

Asset Management

Mining is an extremely capital-intensive industry, and misuse of assets can have a prohibitive effect on success. Making the most out of one’s capital assets is a necessity, and optimising performance isa direct path to streamlined and efficient asset performance.

Industry-specific cloud solutions and Enterprise Asset Management are tailored to optimise extraction and downstream processing operations, by enabling greater control over production operations and facilitating communication between different organs through to ensuring maximum asset uptime.

 

Risk Management

The extractions industry is a volatile one and risk is always a concern to mining companies. Geographical, political, economic and environmental factors make for unpredictable waters that companies must navigate.

End-to-end mobile integration and strong risk management solutions let companies accurately assess and manage their operational risk portfolio. By having a thorough overview of where the hazards lie within their organisation, they are able to increase safety standards, monitor energy consumption, and reduce emissions and waste. Not to mention active prevention and management.

 

Sales

The most streamlined mineral extraction process in the world counts for nothing if there is no-one on the other end to buy them. The real-time, round-the-clock connectivity enabled by integration ensures that the sales end performances are as reliable as on-the-ground operations.

Data analytics allow for excellent customer insight and engagement. Through integration, cash-to-contract processes are optimised and compliance with international trade regulations is simplified. In addition, overall transportation costs are reduced through the streamlining of freight and shipping operations.

 

Workforce

The geographical demands of large-scale mining which sees operations take place across large distances. A mobile workforce requires a mobile IT network.

An integrated infrastructure based around the cloud allows for employees to maintain secure communication with management whilst having the tools to do their job remotely.

Companies can cost efficiently manage their workforce from any location, at the same time maintaining enough flexibility to react to any situation that might arise. This allows for increased productivity, reduced maintenance costs, and collaborative innovation. This extends from mobile travel receipt & claims through to work instructions, inventory level and ordering capabilities from on the road.

 

There can be no doubt that the initial investment in an integrated and mobile IT infrastructure will pay for itself many times over. East African mining and extraction companies would be well-served by looking into industry-specific packages from a proven mobility trendsetter such as SAP. Only then can the full potential of the region’s rich mineral fields be unlocked.

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