GE, one of the world’s major digital industrial companies, has opened its R500 million (US $33 million) 2,700m2 facility, the GE Africa Innovation Centre in Johannesburg South Africa. The centre, a first for GE in Africa, is another big investment for GE, affirming that Africa and South Africa continue to be a good investment destination for big businesses, and that solutions to Africa’s challenges should come from Africa.
The centre is the 10th GE Innovation Centre globally and the first Innovation Centre for GE in Africa. It is the first GREEN and LEED certified GE building in Sub-Saharan Africa and will be GE’s centre of excellence (COE) for innovation in Africa. As part of GE’s continued commitment to support SMEs the building was 90%+ built, designed, and executed by local businesses. It will be the home to GE’s innovation across Africa within its key business sectors such as aviation, energy, healthcare, oil and gas, power and transportation and will serve as the new headquarters for GE Healthcare. John Flannery, President & CEO, GE Healthcare globally, attended the opening event.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony, Jay Ireland President and CEO for GE Africa said “Innovation is shaping how we see the world and how we participate in its development today and into the future. GE is committed to driving innovation in Africa for Africa through supporting skills and SME development. The GE Africa Innovation Centre is one platform through which we are using our resources to empower ourselves and our stakeholders to positively contribute towards the sustainable development of Africa. We are looking to impact and enhance the career aspirations of over 100 engineers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. These are young people who will come through the centre and share their innovative solutions whilst learning from some of the best GE minds in their respective fields. They will work across GE’s product portfolio and deliver simplified world-class products to GE customers”.
The cutting edge facility boasts an Experience and Exploration Centre, coffee shop and catering facilities, agile workspaces, Learning and Development Centre, Innovation Ideation and Collaboration Centre, as well as a GE Prototyping Laboratory and sustainable Healthcare Customer Experience Centre.
Speaking at the opening, the Gauteng MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu said, “The Gauteng Department of Health is always working tirelessly with all the relevant stakeholders and this initiative will play a significant role in reducing the infant and maternal mortality rate in the province”.
The Healthcare Experience Centre is designed to mimic different care areas in a hospital environment and includes focused spaces to help familiarize customers with care area technologies in the operating theatre and intensive care unit, cardiology, oncology, maternal and infant care and general radiology and after sales service. Featuring virtual and augmented reality displays and a range of installed equipment, visitors will be treated to a glimpse of an interconnected and efficient hospital catering for both primary care settings and premium facilities. Further, the centre’s eight new permanent work stations will also provide customers with hands-on clinical education and applications training.
At the centre’s announcement in 2014 Minister for Small Business Development, Minister Lindiwe Zulu said “As the Ministry for Small Business Development, we are confident that, working together, we will be able to unlock economic opportunities and thus achieve inclusive economic growth and sustainable employment, particularly for women, youth and people with disabilities. Together, we must ensure that small entrepreneurs have abundant opportunities to grow and develop their enterprises in an environment that nurtures the development of these enterprises and enhances their job creation potential”.
The Centre will enable skills and SME development in Africa and serve as the basecamp for the Londvolota Enterprise Development Trust which launched in 2015 with a commitment to accelerating supplier development in South Africa and the equipping of SMEs to participate in the GE value chain.
In South Africa GE has partnered with Transnet SOC to manufacture locomotives for export into the rest of Africa and on the Healthcare side was selected as the key technology provider for the new Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, due to open later this year.
In Nigeria, GE signed a landmark country- to- country agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria, covering power, healthcare, transportation and oil and gas.
In Kenya has its GE Africa headquarters as well as the GE Captital and Aviation Services (GECAS) business. GECAS is the leading aircraft leasing partner for Kenya Airway’s. In parallel, GE Healthcare is actively executing on a landmark US $220 million modernization and capacity building program in support of the Kenyan Ministry of Health’s landmark healthcare transformation program.
In Ethiopia, Ethiopian Airway’s is GE’s major partner in that country. GE engines will power most of the airline’s fleet and GECAS is the major lessor for Ethiopian Airlines.
In Mozambique GE is fast growing and actively contributes to the sustainable development of Mozambique. For example, GE has invested US $250 000.00 into scholarships granted to the University of Eduardo Mondlane students, and US $250 000.00 in a science lab and capacity building at Unilurio University.
In Angola GE has a MOU with the Angola Ministry of Water and Energy towards achieving the country’s 2000MW electricity target by 2016- 7000MW distributed power equipment.
The ultimate goal of the centre is excellence and collaboration for GE, its customers and stakeholders across Africa.