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Sharing the PPC Africa sustainability model: Grassroot Corporate Social Investment

15 July 2021

The rapidly changing business environment has shown companies that they should put contributing to the improvement of the socio-economic circumstances of the communities in which they operate at the core of their values.

While these contributions help to enhance their reputation, it shows that they are locally relevant and responsive to the needs of their communities and contributes positively to the morale of their employees.

PPC Africa recognises this and has incorporated it into its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) strategy. The company would like to shed light on its sustainability model and the impact it has been making in the countries we have a presence in.

The company is a material and solutions provider of quality and consistent cement, aggregates, metallurgical-grade lime, burnt dolomite, limestone, ready-mix and fly ash. The business which is headquartered in South Africa has a footprint across Africa, in South Africa, Botswana, DRC, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

PPC Africa is a leading supplier of materials and solutions into the basic services sector in Africa and operates 11 cement factories with a production capacity of around 11,6 million tonnes of cement products every year.

PPC Africa has a rich 129-year legacy dedicated to creating value for its stakeholders. It has been an integral part of the development of the continent and values the importance of not only engaging and collaborating with communities in which it operates but to ensure that it makes a positive and sustainable impact on them.

Through CSI, we aim to assist, benefit and empower marginalised individuals and communities, using a strong developmental approach that utilises company resources for the benefit of individuals and communities.

Our CSI philosophy is guided by our approach to sustainability, a focus on Environment, Social development and governance. Finding the right balance among these three dimensions has contributed to our success on the continent. Without sustainability, PPC Africa would not have been able to celebrate over 120 years of existence. CSI acts as a platform upon which to promote our purpose, values and brand to key stakeholders.  

“I define sustainability as taking stern action now with a futuristic view for the benefit of generations to come without compromising the current generation. At PPC we ensure this through economical resource planning in terms of our raw material, pollution prevention, reducing carbon footprint through various initiatives including product innovation as well as research and development. Social development is vital to drive sustainability. We strive to achieve this pillar by creating a co-inherent existence with our communities through potable water provision, healthcare and education as well as infrastructure development amongst others.” Aili Zeeman, Lead SHEQ International

PPC Africa pursues opportunities to empower communities through social investment underpinned by our REAL approach where our interventions should thrive to be relevant, to add value to affected stakeholders and promote community health, safety and security; empowering, in that we must make a noticeable difference, bridging socio-economic gaps whilst protecting and preserving local cultural heritage; actualised, in that it must be realistic and achievable; and lasting, sustainable and maintainable.

The philosophy of shared valued anchors the corporate social investment (CSI) strategy of the business. This ensures that there is sustainable and constant growth in the communities where we operate in making business sense for key stakeholders in those communities, the government and the company.

Therefore, we settled for five key strategic pillars in our approach to our programmes in our African markets which are Education, Health, Enterprise development (with special focus on women and youth), Environmental protection and Sustainable infrastructure development. We designed these pillars to ensure that PPC empowers the communities that we operate through, changing people’s lives and preserving the environment for future generations.

Over several articles, we aim to showcase how PPC has been true to these principles in its businesses in Zimbabwe, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We aim to shed light on PPC Africa’s CSI projects and the impact they are making in the respective countries that they operate.

Zimbabwe is a natural starting point in our journey because of its historical significance, and that PPC is a significant part of the growth of the country for over 125 years. From a small plant constructed in 1913 on the outskirts of Bulawayo to an additional plant in Colleen Bawn in 1946 and the ultra-modern Msasa plant in Harare in 2017, PPC Zimbabwe has played a significant role in growing the country’s economy.

PPC Zimbabwe has produced cement for many of Zimbabwe’s iconic landmarks such as Victoria Falls, Kariba Dam, Harare International Airport, the NRZ Building, Lake Mutirikwi and many construction projects to date.

In line with its CSI strategy, PPC Zimbabwe has several initiatives in the country, cognizant of the fact that Zimbabwe’s Human Development Index value over the years has been low. Published annually by the United Nations, the index is a composite measure that measures life expectancy, educational attainment, and income level. Zimbabwe’s current HDI value is 0.57 which puts the country in a medium human development category, positioning it at 150 out of 189 countries and territories in the world.

Therefore, PPC Zimbabwe has emphasized those areas that would contribute significantly to reducing the risk and impact on the health and safety of communities and help establish preventative and control measures.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 adversely disrupted our way of life, leading to widespread infection and deaths in communities and the world over. PPC Zimbabwe took on the challenge as part of health and disaster mitigation by undertaking several interventions.

PPC Zimbabwe donated 500 bags of cement for the renovation of a COVID-19 Isolation and treatment centre at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo. This was at a cost of ZWL152 381. Isolation centres are essential in ensuring that there is no cross-infection at health facilities where patients go for treatment.

We have established a similar facility at Gwanda Provincial Hospital renovating the old Eye Unit and designating it an isolation centre for COVID-19 that would serve the greater community in the province. The company also assisted in the incinerator’s repair at the hospital, which is an essential piece of equipment for waste disposal. The total cost of the project was ZWL 252,618.

As part of COVID-19 disaster mitigation activities, PPC partnered with the municipality of Gwanda in disinfecting the town against COVID-19, an exercise that cost USD2,754.

With the pandemic spreading rapidly across the country, there was a growing demand for the local manufacture and supply of personal protective equipment (PPEs). PPC responded by assisting a university to develop and distribute hand sanitisers to the community.

PPC Zimbabwe also continues to act decisively in the fight against the pandemic through in-house initiatives where we tackle health and safety concerns of the workforce and their families at the facilities in Bulawayo, Harare and Colleen Bawn.

In 2018 Cyclone Idai hit parts of Zimbabwe, and the disaster left a trail of destruction that swept away homes, damaged infrastructure and led to a regrettable loss of life. A huge humanitarian effort began, and corporate entities came to help the victims.

PPC Zimbabwe helped minimize the Cyclone Idai victims’ displacement and contributed to the compensation for their loss. We donated 90 tons of cement towards the rehabilitation of homes of the victims at a total cost of USD15, 000. The donation was to the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency E D Mnangagwa.

PPC Zimbabwe continues to render support in education. The company built and equipped a solar-powered Science and computer lab at Sojini Secondary School in rural Matabeleland North at a cost of USD77, 000. The project is of significance because of the low pass rate and uptake of science subjects by pupils in the province. It will help kindle interest in the science subjects and increase the number of pupils qualifying for the growing number of universities in the province and the country.

PPC Zimbabwe also provides practical, on-the-job training for undergraduate students in PPC communities and the country. The student attachment program gives the learners an opportunity for learning, development and exposure in the working environment provided by the company, while also assisting them to meet their university course requirements. This is at a cost of USD14,000.

In our quest to create employment and support income-generating activities, PPC Zimbabwe has established and is supporting sewing factories at the Bulawayo and Colleen Bawn Factories (total spend USD123, 879) for women’s empowerment. Both factories, currently closed for lockdown, are ready to produce work suits and other requirements for the company and surrounding community. This initiative resulted from consultations through stakeholder forums established to build strong, constructive relationships that address grievances from local communities.

Another project of note that has benefitted communities near our factories is the Mutare Road rehabilitation. The company repaired the access road to the Msasa factory in Harare from Mutare road for USD 68,791.44. The road, which was in a state of disrepair, also provides access to a few small and medium scale industries next to the PPC Harare Plant.

In the communities where we have operations, PPC Zimbabwe will work to respect the human rights, dignity, aspirations, and culture of the indigenous people. We commit to protect their cultural heritage from any adverse effects of our activities. The company built 4 houses for families affected by our limestone crushing operations at a cost of USD20, 000.00 at Shamva village. PPC also drilled and equipped one community borehole at a cost of USD10, 000.00 for the same families and the community at large.

In our journey to showcase how PPC Africa values its sustainable contribution to the growth and development of the communities that it operates in, we will next look at our markets in Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Read more about PPC’s sustainability efforts of creating a better life for our stakeholders here: https://www.ppc.africa/sustainability/environment/


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