Bureau Veritas’s senior vice-president Africa, Marc Roussel. Photo: Supplied
JOHANNESBURG - Global testing, inspection and certification company Bureau Veritas invested several million euros in South Africa last year as it expanded its presence in South Africa, and it is in the process of establishing a business unit to serve the construction and infrastructure sector in the country.

Marc Roussel, senior vice-president Africa and president of government services and international trade at Bureau Veritas, said they invested the money last year in extending their capabilities in South Africa and Mozambique. Roussel said Bureau Veritas entered the South African market in 1994 and had operations in about 30 of the 54 countries on the continent.

He said Bureau Veritas was not a newcomer to Africa and had started its first operations on the continent in the 18th century.

“Bureau Veritas is an international company and has been providing inspection, testing and certification services since 1828, has 72000 employees worldwide, is active in 140 countries and an annual turnover of 4.5billion,” he said.

He said the company had 15 dedicated laboratories in South Africa that provided services to a variety of sectors, including power and utilities, automotive, agrifood, government services and international trade, metals and minerals, and oil and gas.

Roussel said agrifoods was one of their priorities and resulted in investments last year in their laboratory in Cape Town and the extension of their facilities at their laboratory in Ormonde in Johannesburg, especially to service the growing demand for pesticide testing.

“We are also investing in Mozambique. Last year, we invested a lot in a laboratory in Temba for graphite mines, and are now investing in Tete for coal analysis,” he said.

Roussel said South Africa was a key market in Africa for Bureau Veritas because of the size of its economy, while the maturity of the economy also had a huge impact on the volume of business it was able to secure.

“For example, in the food business, the more retailers you have, the more need you have for food testing,” he said.

Roussel said southern Africa accounted for about a quarter of Bureau Veritas’ business in Africa, but there was still room to do a lot more business in South Africa, because there were still some areas of its services that were not yet available in the country that were well developed elsewhere in the world.

Sal Govender, the recently appointed vice-president for Bureau Veritas Southern Africa, said they had started establishing a construction business in South Africa and planned to have the required manpower and personnel in place and start operations in the first quarter of this year.

Govender said they were targeting municipalities and city entities, such as the City of Johannesburg and its ageing structures. She said the inspection and analysis of structures with recommendations for urban renewal, gentrification and regeneration would be a huge focus.