In an augural event, companies from various countries in Africa battled each other in a bid to be bestowed with the first African KAIZEN Award held in Tunis, Tunisia. The rationale behind the 2019 Africa Kaizen Awards is to enhance capabilities and competitiveness of African companies by promoting the concept of Kaizen through mutual learning process of know-how and practical experiences of Kaizen activities in Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as sharing information on Africa Kaizen Initiative. The Kaizen concept is a Japanese management philosophy that enables the implementation of best workplace practices to yield higher productivity levels.
The Kaizen Award is carried out as one of programs of “Africa Kaizen Annual Conference” organized by the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The annual conference is held as a part of the Africa Kaizen Initiative, and the fourth edition of the conference was witnessed by 200 participants from 17 countries.
The South African government entity tasked with promoting the competitiveness and productivity of the country, Productivity SA, also saw one of the companies that had implemented Productivity SA programmes, ANAX Logistics, participate in the event.
In recent years the achievement of Kaizen has attracted the interest of an increasing number of countries in Africa. At the occasion of the sixth Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD VI) in 2016, Kaizen received high attention as a promising method in raising quality and productivity, and competitiveness and one unique pillar of Japan’s cooperation.
The first Africa KAIZEN Award was held in Tunis, Tunisia from 24 to 26 June 2019. Out of 16 companies that were nominated to compete in Tunis, winners were selected in various categories. Winners in the prestigious event held at the picturesque Ramada Hotel located on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in Tunis, Tunisia were as follows:
• Most Outstanding Award:
o A to Z Textile Mills Ltd. From Tanzania,
o MAA Garment and Textiles PLC from Ethiopia
• Excellence Award
o Lumen Special Cables from South Africa
o SOMEF TUNISIE from Tunisia
o Water Well Drilling Enterprise from Ethiopia
• Exemplary Award
o Kanyama First Level Hospital from Zambia
The Department Manager of Supplier and Enterprise Development at Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), Nkhumbuzi Ben-Mazwi, says the South African development centre is elated at the performance of Lumen Special Cables.
AIDC in conjunction with JICA have been supporting Lumen Special Cables with productivity improvement expertise. Ben Mazwi says Lumen Special Cables showed significant improvement in its manufacturing processes and production through its Kaizen improvement pilot. Ben-Mazwi says this award could not have been possible without the commitment and leadership shown by Lumen Special Cables Managing Director Monty Naidu.
The winners of the Most Outstanding Company category, A to Z Textile Mills Ltd from Tanzania and MAA Garment and Textiles PLC from Ethiopia have been invited to participate in the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) whereby they will visit Japanese enterprises to experience the implementation of KAIZEN in Japan. ENDS.
The Kaizen Concept
Through simple practices continuously and consistently repeated, Kaizen can improve quality and productivity, reduce time and cost, and create comfortable and safe working environments. Kaizen can be implemented in not only manufacturing, but also businesses management and individuals’ homes and lives. KAIZEN is not limited to simple management techniques, but it is essentially the process where everyone in an organization maintains an attitude to consistently pursue advanced levels of quality and productivity (Improvement of job quality). The Kaizen management approach is based on good understanding between managers and workers, emphasizing the importance of valuing both workers and the working space (“Gemba”). It encourages internal communication, thus improving cohesion and ultimately productivity. Corporate cohesion can create a dynamic economy which creates and grows jobs, reduces inequality and alleviates poverty, and builds a society where people can trust each other and hold a common sense of belonging.