Smart technologies and engineering solutions

Sustainable growth hinges on the ability to optimise resources and the infrastructure backbone that serves communities and economies.

NEXTEC’s Digital Infrastructure services are designed to seamlessly integrate physical systems with digital technologies to create intelligent, resilient and high-performance systems. Areas that they specialise in include water, power, connectivity, as well as building technology, logistics and asset management.

Hilton Baartman, Managing Director at GLS Consulting, a subsidiary of NEXTEC (a proudly EOH company), expands on the Group’s smart technologies and engineering solutions.

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NEXTEC on Building African Smart Cities

NEXTEC on Building African Smart Cities

NEXTEC on Building African Smart Cities

Sean Bennet is Group Executive for NEXTEC, an entity of the EOH group. We discuss how NEXTEC helps in building smarter African cities.

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Listen or watch to understand:

  • Sean's definition of a Smart City in the African context.
  • How cities can better leverage technology to make cities smarter, enable economic transformation and help make cities more inclusive.
  • South Africa's world class connectivity.
  • Lack of efficient digital infrastructure in secondary cities/towns and townships, what is currently holding back progress and what success will look like.
  • How blockchain could overnight make corruption virtually impossible and give the world renewed confidence in the African continent.
  • One thing Sean would change if he had a magic wand
  • Progress expected in the Smart City space over the next few years.

About Sean Bennett

Experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in a wide variety of sectors most recently the industrial, banking and mining industry. Currently turning around a multi disciplinary set of businesses (NEXTEC) including improving profitability by R1bn in last 18 months. 30 years expertise in turnaround management, strategy, acquisitions and disposals, negotiation, communication, running listed businesses, IPOs, financing, accountancy, debt restructuring.


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Economic Strengthening Livelihood Programme

Economic Strengthening Livelihood Programme

Socio-economic development support and opportunities enabling young women to become economically active.

Download our information brochure.


The Challenge

Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) throughout South Africa face unprecedented socio-economic challenges. Girls between 15 and 24 are especially marginalized and vulnerable.

Apart from high levels of HIV, teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence, these young women struggle to complete schooling or further their studies and lack employment or entrepreneurship opportunities.

Based on the need to create a sustainable livelihood for these young women not in employment, not in education and not in training (NEETs), the Economic Strengthening Livelihood Programme (ESL) aimed to develop skills, offer career guidance and access to work and entrepreneurship opportunities.

The Scope

The funded project provided socio-economic development support and opportunities to 425 AGYW in Sub-District C of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

The support enabled the targeted group to become economically active and to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves after completing the programme, whilst supporting these young women during programme implementation

NEXTEC’s Proposed Solution

Livelihood Skills, Opportunities and Support

Through the collaboration of NEXTEC People Solutions (MBAT), BeyondZero, NACOSA and MIET Africa the solution consisted of:

  • Livelihood Skills Training
  • Creating Livelihood Opportunities
  • Providing Livelihood Support

The Solution

  • Livelihood Skills Training NEETs attended six days of classroom-based, facilitated skills development training covering the subject areas of Work Readiness, Financial Skills and Computer literacy.


  • Livelihood Opportunities NEETs were streamed into various livelihood options including work placement, internships, education or entrepreneurship. On presentation of a Business Plan, participants received mentoring and small grants.


  • Livelihood Support NEETs in employment were supported with vouchers for transport for interviews, transport to work, food, clothing, Early Childhood Development support and given matched savings.

The Benefits

  • Livelihood Skills Training: The target of 425 was exceeded by 5 % and 445 delegates were trained.
  • Livelihood Opportunities: 205 delegates were placed in work placement opportunities, 5 in internships, 148 provided with additional education interventions and 34 entrepreneurs were capacitated through mentoring and small grants.
  • Livelihood Support: 325 delegates were provided with food and clothing vouchers, 322 with transport to work and 188 with transport to interviews. 134 who saved, were given matched savings and 72 women provided with Early Childhood Development vouchers.


Overall, the most important underlying benefits of the programme was that it impacted positively on participants’ lives and made a difference in the broader community.

About Us -MBAT

MBAT is committed to people development and offers a range of training and development solutions that are applicable across all industries.

Managing large-scale training related projects, implementing learnerships and delivering short courses is our core business.

About MBAT
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FREE TO READ | Project management set for global boom

Picture: 123RF/DOTSHOCK

Picture: 123RF/DOTSHOCK

The value of project-oriented economic activity is likely to reach $20-trillion in the next decade, with sub-Saharan Africa alone  seeing a 40% growth in project management employment opportunities.

By 2027 as many as 88-million people globally will be working in project management, a Harvard Business Review article predicts, while the global economy will need 25-million new project professionals by 2030, estimates the Project Management Institute.

This growth is being driven by rapid change and the need for greater agility.


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A revolution in mining is being driven by technology

By Sean Bennett: Head of NEXTEC

Mining is undergoing a fundamental and permanent shift. Advanced technology has begun to permeate mining operations, and this trend is only going to accelerate.

The shift is driven by clear needs within the industry, primarily the need to improve safety and reduce risk. Alongside this reduction  in risk, technology serves to enhance productivity and efficiency. The ability of miners to enhance safety and productivity relies to a significant extent on one quality: knowledge.

Knowledge is safety

Knowledge – of environments, of risk, and of humans’ relationship to risk – has always been a precious commodity in the industry. The expression “canary in a coal mine” originates from an early and rudimentary form of air-quality measurement technology. Canaries, which are more sensitive to dangerous gases than humans, would be carried into mines. If the canary passed out or died it was an indication that humans, too, were inhaling dangerous gases, and should leave the area immediately.

Mining remains an exceptionally dangerous activity. Large machinery, massive weights, high energies and often remote operations pose a vast array of potential threats. The more information we have about mining environments, operations, equipment and risk, the more safely and productively we can work. In a high-consequence area such as a mine-site, knowing exactly where your people, vehicles, equipment and zones of danger are, and their condition, allows you to effectively manage risk and consequence.

We have come a long way from carrying a bird in a cage down a mineshaft. Today we can closely monitor the position and relationship between hundreds of pieces of equipment, thousands of humans, and various zones of risk or potential danger. People are equipped with wearables – smart watches, tags, or backpacks – which broadcast their location, monitor them for signs of danger, fatigue or injury, and allow them to instantly request assistance.

Vehicles are equipped with collision avoidance systems that instantly broadcast an alert if they are likely to cross paths with or come too close to people or objects. Mine zones are equipped with multi-modal sensors that analyse atmospheric chemicals, noise and potential energy, for example, in order to constantly update risks and threats. Sensors also allow for surveillance and the reduction in theft.

We saw the potential of these systems during the coronavirus pandemic, when wearable tags allowed mines to implement systems for contact tracing that were more effective than simple temperature screenings, for example, because they didn’t depend on infected people displaying symptoms. Wearable systems also allow employees to rapidly alert supervisors if they are harassed or threatened by other employees, as well as if they are in danger.

We are rapidly approaching the ultimate goal of operational planning in which every variable with a potential effect on safety and productivity – and their relationships – are analysable in real time.

It all begins with connectivity

None of this would have been possible without breakthroughs in the reliability and effectiveness of connectivity on mining sites. Mining often takes place in remote areas, in the midst of inhospitable terrain. Mining sites are characterised by noise, dust, extremes in temperature, extreme weather events, magnetic fields, and direct lines of sight obscured by millions of tonnes of rock and ore. On top of this, it’s not sufficient for connectivity to work under these conditions sometimes. A second’s delay in the transmission of a signal can mean the difference between life and death.

Advances in connectivity (born in some instances from military and first-responder applications) have incorporated both specific technologies – mesh technology; LoRaWAn protocols; global positioning systems; BlueTooth location engines; etc. – and interprotocol communication that allows these technologies to interact with and support one another to create an unbroken, robust connectivity network that extends across the entire zone of operations, including deep underground.

Generating data

Once we have dependable, effective connectivity established, the next step is to generate useable data. Sensors can monitor dust, noise or CO2 levels, for example. Cameras and microphones can transmit visual and auditory data. Heart rate monitors can transmit data on human health.

But the power of data begins to emerge when it is analysed in real-time by advanced software. Machine learning and AIs can examine data and begin to make predictions about the future. Microphones installed on conveyor belts can identify bearings that are due to be replaced. Slope-monitoring systems can generate alerts if slopes appear unstable. And human-wearable sensors can identify fatigue before it creates safety issues.

The future

The future of technology in mining will be driven by AIs, allowing for ever quicker and more sophisticated data analysis, and an ever-increasing ability to accurately model likely future scenarios.

AIs will also allow robotics to become more autonomous, reducing the oversight role that humans will need to play. We are still many years, if not decades, away from truly autonomous robots in mines, but even robots that are dependent on human controllers have obvious applications in terms of examining dangerous areas or performing dangerous tasks, and are being rapidly adopted throughout the industry.

The evolving human role

Robots are not about to put people out of work, but the nature of work in mining will inevitably change. Technology will reduce human exposure to risk. Dangerous, unpleasant, or unhealthy work will increasingly be done by controlled or autonomous systems. People will increasingly take on supervisory roles. This will require attention from miners in terms of training and talent management. The result will be that humans will be engaged in more stimulating, rewarding and healthier work.

Since the earliest days of mining, an overriding question has been “how do we ensure the safety of people within these exceptional, high-risk environments”? The answer has proven to be real-time knowledge, underpinned by robust connectivity and analysed by intelligent software systems. It’s a tremendously exciting area of technological development, and it has tangible benefits for mining companies and their stakeholders. The result is a mine that serves its employees, reduces risk, and enhances productivity.

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