Chinese electronics manufacturer Hisense has become a household name in South Africa since it arrived in the country in 1996. However the company, not content to remain a player only in the southern African market, has announced the first shipments of televisions and refrigerators are on the way to the rest of Africa.
It forms part of a new strategy by Hisense that started three months ago when the company created an export division in South Africa. Hisense decided that local office would become the headquarters for its African operations, which already supply many of our neighbouring countries including Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Lesotho.
The first group of countries to get the SA-produced Hisense products will be Madagascar, Ghana and the Seychelles because of existing relationships that Hisense has with partners in each of those countries according to Ebrahim Khan, the deputy general manager of Hisense SA. Hisense is hoping that demand for these products in the rest of Africa can drive the creation of jobs at the Atlantis plant from its current compliment of 500 employees to over 1 200 within the next two to four years.
All of the manufacturing takes place at Hisense’s new R350 million factory in the Atlantis industrial park in the Western Cape which was opened in June last year and has the capacity to produce up to 400 000 TVs and fridges a year. Rather than importing skilled labour to the facility, Hisense has instead chosen to take unskilled workers from the surrounding are of Atlantis and train them using a skills-transfer programme led by Hisense technicians and engineers from China.[Image – BD Live]