Global independent safety science company UL says demand for its services in Southern Africa has increased by more than 25% year-on-year since the company established a local footprint in 2015.
The company certifies, validates, tests, verifies and inspects manufactured products, as well as audits, and advises companies across various industrial sectors.
“UL provides the knowledge and expertise to help companies navigate the ever-growing complexities across the supply chain – from compliance and regulatory issues to trade challenges and market access,” says UL Southern Africa MD Kennedy Nzimande, adding that its services span different jurisdictions and geographies.
Nzimande attributes the increased services demand to a rapidly globalising marketplace, particularly as local companies aim to access other international markets in North America, Europe and on the African continent.
“With the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, there is enhanced access for products produced in the Southern Africa region [into] other markets, like North America. These manufacturers require our services, given our global expertise and footprint.”
Conversely, there is also increased demand for services from manufacturers in other markets, especially Asian markets (such as Taiwan and South Korea), as well as northern hemisphere economies, which are aiming to enter Southern African markets.
“UL facilitates understanding of the local regulations of institutions such as the South African Bureau of Standards, the National Regulator of Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, as well as requirements in terms of testing, inspection and product safety certifications,” Nzimande says.
He stresses that testing and certification services are becoming increasingly topical, as the Department of Trade and Industry, in collaboration with agencies like the NRCS, aims to further strengthen the integration of South Africa into the international trade environment.
The need for these services is further predicated on the legitimate concerns by regulators regarding the proliferation of imported products on the local market, ranging from electrical equipment to medical devices that have not been tested by a qualified independent third party and certified for safe use.
“As suppliers worldwide compete in the various markets, a key challenge for companies is contending with the influx of noncompliant, or counterfeit, products, which not only make the playing field uneven but also pose a safety risk to consumers,” says Nzimande.
There is also an interest in UL’s services for testing, inspection and certification services, as well as its advisory and due diligence services in the broader energy sectors, particularly renewable energy, says Nzimande, noting particular interest from renewable-energy industry players, including wind farm financiers, developers and operators.
Following the company’s involvement in these projects, Nzimande believes that UL’s largest potential areas for local growth are in the broader manufacturing industry and in the renewable-energy sector.