Oabona M. Kgengwenyane, Managing Director, Innolead Consulting

“Innolead is looking to expand to the South African, Namibian, and Zambian markets in the future.”

Founded in 2002, can you speak to InnoLead’s portfolio and how it has evolved over time?

Oabona M. Kgengwenyane (OMK): InnoLead was conceptualized around assisting the mining industry and the Botswana government’s project management and growth capabilities. Our expertise is capacity building, as these projects always have an expected return on investment. With a heavy amount of required capital, mining operations need to be implemented in the smartest way possible, thusly project management tools are essential. We assist mining houses throughout the whole process, from initial feasibility studies to construction works and monitoring, ensuring that everything runs according to budget and expectations. InnoLead provides skilled resource professionals—engineers, project managers, planners, controllers, and estimators—whatever is needed. In 2007 we supported a major shutdown for BCL copper nickel mine as the “owners team,” offering essential control expertise.  Over the past 13 years we have been extensively involved with Debswana’s capital projects in regards to management training, controls, and project management office (PMO) implementation. We also work with government, supporting infrastructure assignments and establishment of PMO’s. InnoLead is focused on the adoption of good practices, as building up Botswana starts with good governance and responsible implementation.

InnoLead also runs the largest project management-training program in Botswana, offering the basics all the way up to accreditations for professionals and specialists. At this point, InnoLead has trained over 15,000 delegates since the academy’s inception. We coach our clients for success, coupled with the most practical technological interfaces. Our most popular platform is a program called Oracle Primavera, a project management tool for infrastructure and mining operations that fall under the information technology section of InnoLead. InnoLead is the only Oracle Primavera-accredited reseller in Botswana.

Would you accredit Botswana’s developmental delays to a lack of transparency?

OMK: No, transparency from a corruption sense is not the problem, but there are instances where money is inefficiently spent and there is an overall lack of maturity around governing projects. There is not yet a platform for the public announcement and breakdown of contracts. The way assignments are scheduled, awarded, managed, and tracked is not monitored. For example, a company is awarded a contract to build a power station, but they are basically given an open check because there are no set projects controls (cost engineering, risk management, quality control, and schedule control). That leads to the submission of variations for more money because there was never a proper base-lining of costs or overall scope. Botswana’s mining operators need to apply proper controls and stage-gate reviews, which is exactly what InnoLead provides.

For example, a decision was made to bring the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) from London to Gaborone in 2008. Debswana recommended that InnoLead be used in that transition due to our previous performance and track record. It was a huge program, which included the establishment of the Diamond Trading Company’s building in town, internal restructuring, relocation of staff, implementing a new sales system etc. DTC’s happiness with our results remains one of InnoLead’s best case studies to date.

What is it about InnoLead’s structure and service that makes it so successful?

OMK: First it is the focus. Because Botswana is relatively small, word travels fast. It is important for us to focus on quality and professionalism because in this business you are never guaranteed a second chance. Large-scale mining operations are always partial to hiring foreign companies, because it seems easier to bring in experts from first world mining destinations. As locally owned companies we need to put up more of a fight to prove our competencies. We are highly specialized in project controls, and all of our case studies show that we can save money.

Botswana ranks very highly in terms of its readiness for investment, and my encouragement is for exploration companies and large mining houses to invest in local capacities. InnoLead understands the local environment and legislation, and we know where to get resources and how to properly implement plants. For a new miner, understanding the culture, the skills and the legal framework is critical for success.

Are there plans to expand beyond Botswana?

OMK: Yes, we are definitely mature enough to take on the South African, Namibian, and Zambian markets. We have yet to find any black professional accrediting training institutions in the region, and considering our internationally upheld standards we believe we can compete. We hope to have Botswana consolidated and be actively expanding regionally in three years time.

This article was written as part of research being conducted by GBR for its upcoming Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide (MACIG) 2016. A pre-release report on the Central African Copperbelt was released in October 2015 and can be accessed here. To participate in this report, please contact Molly Concannon mconcannon@gbreports.com