Exploring Engineering Excellence with Mohorosi Makhurane of Waterprint Investments Zimbabwe

Delve into the dynamic world of engineering and innovation with Mohorosi Makhurane of Waterprint Investments. Established in 2010, the engineering company has been at the forefront of engineering excellence in Zimbabwe.

Interview with Mohorosi Makhurane, Founder and CEO of Waterprint Investments

Could you provide us with a background and a brief overview of Waterprint Investments?

Waterprint Investments was officially established in October 2010 as an engineering company, and since then, we have been actively involved in various engineering disciplines. Our broad expertise spans across telecommunications engineering, road infrastructure development, and asphalt production.

In the realm of telecommunications engineering, we specialize in fiber optics installations, backbone expansions, aerial installations, and MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching). Within Zimbabwe, we undertake the installation of underground fiber optic backbones and aerial fiber installations, facilitating intercity and intercountry connectivity.

Concerning road infrastructure, we offer a comprehensive range of services, including the supply of road line marking paint, road signs, and other SADC standard signs, aimed at standardizing signage across the southern region. Furthermore, our asphalt plant manufactures both hot and cold asphalt premix, crucial for road surfacing, and we provide smaller packaging options for DIY patching, ensuring accessibility for all.

In addition to our core engineering operations, we have recently diversified our portfolio with the establishment of Food Culture. This subsidiary focuses on milling and packaging edible products such as maize meal and wheat, catering to the evolving needs of consumers. Food Culture is a new project that we have been working on for quite some time. We believe the conditions are right now for us to fully pursue it.

Could you provide more details about Food Culture, the new project you are working on? Can you provide more information about the specific products you are packaging?

Sure, for Food Culture, we are delving into milling as part of our focus. Currently, our production plant is undergoing testing, aiming for a design capacity of 15 tons per day of maize mill. We anticipate having our products on shelves by the end of April. Alongside milling, we are also packaging a variety of dried foods. This includes Kapenta fish, a small fish popular in Zimbabwe when dried and preserved. Additionally, we are sourcing Mopane worms, processed by local communities. We are establishing partnerships with rural women to collect these worms from Mopane trees, supporting community involvement. We will also be importing processed flour and pasta from South Africa for packaging. Our long-term goal is to procure equipment for local milling, reducing reliance on imports. Initially, our focus will be on distributing pasta and flour within Zimbabwe. While Zimbabwe has become more self-sufficient, we have been net importers of these products for some time. Ultimately, we aim to transition to local production, but for now, we will import from South Africa.

Let’s focus on your main business, the asphalt production unit at Waterprint Investments. What would you say is your competitive advantage?

We primarily service the southern region, where we are one of only two asphalt producers with plants. The majority of our competitors are situated in the northern region. This positioning gives us a significant edge as one of the primary suppliers of asphalt products in the southern region. Additionally, our mobile plant offers a distinct advantage. Asphalt is highly time-sensitive—it needs to be applied while hot and fluid. Once it cools and solidifies, it becomes unusable. Our ability to transport the plant directly to the worksite ensures optimal conditions for application, setting us apart from competitors. Moreover, our strong network with Tosas in South Africa, a supplier of bitumen binders and products, allows us to deliver superior quality asphalt due to the high-grade binder and aggregate. Despite being smaller in size, we pride ourselves on our agility, accommodating orders of any size. As a young company with a dynamic team of engineers, our efficiency in execution surpasses that of our competitors. These attributes collectively position us as a preferred choice in the market.

What are the latest projects you are currently involved in?

Recently, we have received some exciting news regarding last year’s budget from the government of Botswana. They have allocated over 100 million US dollars for road rehabilitation projects. As a result, potential partners have approached us to collaborate on setting up an asphalt production plant in Botswana, which is currently in progress. This opportunity is quite significant for us as it marks our early involvement in talks for regional expansion. While the project is still in its initial stages, we are enthusiastic about the potential it holds for our company. So, yes, that is a project we are actively pursuing, albeit outside of Zimbabwe, but it is definitely an exciting venture for us.

We understand that you are the sole owner of the company. Are there any considerations or plans to seek additional investment to facilitate expansion? Do you have any thoughts on that matter?

We are working with the government and according to the 2017 survey on road conditions, the government estimates a need for over 4.5 billion US dollars to rehabilitate and reconstruct the entire road network, including finishing work. We aim to play a significant role in this endeavor. As we gear up for it, we are exploring partnerships or investment opportunities through joint ventures. This would enable us to acquire the necessary technology and scale up our capacity to effectively contribute to the road rehabilitation efforts. So, yes, we are open to collaboration, and as we move forward, we will assess the equipment and support needed to advance our goals.

With the government’s 4.5 billion US dollar projects looming, what resources do you foresee needing to bolster your company’s capacity? How would you utilize potential investment from interested parties to meet these demands?

Zimbabwe’s economy operates quite differently, especially considering the current scenario where the government has earmarked 4.5 billion US dollars for road rehabilitation projects. However, amidst such extensive initiatives, there are various other priority areas competing for attention. Therefore, we believe it is crucial for us to gradually enhance our capacity in tandem with the government’s efforts. This gradual approach would entail acquiring a comprehensive set of equipment to handle the workload at hand. Yet, it is also essential to balance this expansion with financial prudence to avoid overextending ourselves. This is where investors could play a pivotal role, stepping in gradually to support our growth while ensuring our competitiveness is sustained.

Could you share a success story that you are proud of, something noteworthy that you have achieved? Can you provide an example that would be interesting for our readers and viewers?

Our contract with the City of Bulawayo for road coverage stands out as a significant achievement. Given the poor condition of our roads in Bulawayo, our involvement in rehabilitating the road network has been both challenging and rewarding. We have learned a great deal from this experience, particularly in engaging with the public and the impact it has on perceptions of Zimbabwe, especially among visitors to Bulawayo. Being part of the ongoing transformation brings us a lot of satisfaction and excitement.

Looking ahead, envision yourself in three to five years. Given your current projects and ambitions, how do you see Waterprint Investments evolving in the medium term? What are your aspirations?

Well, in the medium to long term, we are keen on expanding within the road construction sector, as I have mentioned. However, what truly excites us is the potential for emulsion processing. Currently, Zimbabwe spends over 20 million US dollars importing bituminous products. We believe there is an opportunity for a Zimbabwean company to step in and process these products domestically, thus reducing reliance on imports and improving accessibility. It is a significant investment, as evidenced by a South African company spending over 3.5 million on a similar plant. With the considerable demand for road rehabilitation in Zimbabwe, we would be thrilled to partner with investors who share our vision and enthusiasm for this endeavor.

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