BFG Africa is the pan-African subsidiary of one of the largest and oldest diversified composites manufacturers in the world, BFG International. Officially noted by the Department of Trade and industry as the first investment made in South Africa from Bahrain. BFG Africa is majority black-owned, with 51% acquired in June 2018 by the Mergence group, a diversified financial services group founded in 2014.
The 9,500m2 factory, the first of its kind in South Africa, produces materials made of fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) for applications across the infrastructure, mining, automotive, transport and architectural sectors. The materials are particularly durable, lightweight and environmentally friendly.
The R50m factory investment is off the back of an initial contract, entered into with the Gibela Rail Transport Consortium, whereby, BFG Africa will clad the interiors of a fleet of 600 commuter trains that will be supplied to the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) over a 10-year period. The first delivery on this project was met in May 2019.
Masimo Magerman, Mergence MD, said: “We were delighted to provide BFG International with a local partner that can assist with unlocking further opportunities in the composites space. Our objective is job creation and skills development and to grow the black industrialist sector in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa.”
Dr Samer Aljishi, Group President of BFG International, said: “Currently 27 people are employed by BFG Africa, 18 of whom underwent extensive training in Bahrain. The company is well positioned to benefit from the roll-out of transport infrastructure and rolling-stock (interiors and claddings) renewable energy projects (composite-based wind turbines), and automotive projects.”
MD of BFG Africa, Arshad Gove, said: “The factory is regarded as one of the best of its kind in the world, with state-of-the-art equipment, including several specialised presses. The manufacturing processes include tooling, open contact moulding, resin transfer moulding, painting, SMC material production, SMC press moulding, vacuum infusion, assembly and product integration.
“Composites fibreglass has replaced conventional materials in locomotive, buildings and specialised applications. Composites fibreglass as a “material of the future” has an imprint in many developed nations and we are excited to be leading the charge with applications in Africa in areas of architecture, rail & transport, wind energy, housing and many other areas by using this advanced material,” Mr Gove said.
BFG Africa is also working on an affordable emergency housing solution, whereby lightweight collapsible structures can be transported and erected within hours to disaster areas.