Asiyejua utu si mtu: “One who does not know how to be humane is not human.”
Providing camps and related camp services within Africa is a challenging process of planning and mobilizing the requisite staff, money, and resources within the agreed timeframe at the agreed price to meet the client’s requirements… before someone else does! With the reduction of remote site support activity in Afghanistan and Iraq, many foreign contractors (primarily security contractors) now seek to enter the large and promising African market.
The African remote site support market is increasingly crowded.
So what differentiates AFEX from our newly arrived competition?
First of all, AFEX is an African company, with strong local management and staff, supported by the international management and financial resources of the Lonrho Group. Our local East African knowledge and expertise is coupled with a Pan-African focus: AFEX is ready to work in any country within Africa where we can partner with our clients to deliver appropriate remote site solutions. AFEX always seeks to employ local nationals in each country of operation, and recruits with an eye to creating and maintaining strong teams in each country. AFEX is sensitive to the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of the communities we work within, and we actively solicit the involvement of village elders.
For example, in a current project in Lamu, Kenya, AFEX is working with the client’s Community Relations Officer and a council of local Imams to promote good community relations, and vet potential staff drawn from the surrounding community. We identify ways and means of promoting community goodwill in order to work efficiently and safely within sensitive and / or post-conflict environments, partnering with local stakeholders to plan and promote ethical business, maximize the employment of local people, and introduce effective job-based training and mentoring programs for local staff. Such initiatives are not only ethical, in terms of recognizing our obligations to our host community, but prudent, in terms of encouraging the local community to be stakeholders and beneficiaries in the positive outcomes of a successful project.
Secondly, the Swahili concept of “Utu” guides our approach to the much maligned and frankly confusing term “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR). Our approach to CSR goes beyond the opportunistic sponsorship of an occasional BBQ or Golf Day, or the handing out of AFEX branded T-shirts. We actively manage and mitigate the social and environmental impacts of our projects upon local communities, and we pay close attention to stakeholder relationships at every stage of a new project: at design stage; during mobilization; during construction and operation of the camp; and in every component of the supply chain required to produce a fully functioning and operational camp for our client.
We also recognize that “Corporate Social Responsibility” carries a different set of associations in emerging economies than the meanings developed around CSR in the affluent West. African CSR projects should be designed as long-term, sustainable activities that benefit the local community, and not as quick “one off” gimmicks designed for Public Relations and Marketing purposes, or to appease vocal shareholders.
As an East African company with strong local roots we cannot ignore the continuing high levels of poverty in the midst of plentiful natural resources and within a growing economy. Lack of appropriate employment opportunities in Africa, especially in remote areas, can lead to chronic employment insecurity, depressed wages, lack of access to maternity leave, and erosion of workers’ rights.
Therefore, our projects always include a strong community element, and − depending on the local community’s needs − may include health education initiatives; assistance in setting up micro-enterprises (e.g. waste management in Turkana); skills development and training for the local workforce; and the creation of employment opportunities for specific target groups, such as the young and/or female workers.
Our commitment to, and understanding of, appropriate CSR activities within our areas of operation strengthens our ties to the communities within which we work, and reflect positively on our clients, especially multi-national clients who inevitably have a high profile when working in Africa
Current CSR Projects