The need and demand for quality private education continues to grow in South Africa and the rest of Africa. Through our medium-to-long term strategy, ADvTECH is not only capitalising on this demand by providing the highest quality of education, but we have also positioned ourselves for future growth, despite the well-known challenges facing businesses in today’s macro-economic environment.
We are encouraged by President Ramaphosa’s focus on education in the most recent State of the Nation speech where he said, “we must undertake the following tasks... Secondly, our history demands that we should improve the education system and develop the skills that we need now and into the future”. At ADvTECH, we believe that this augurs well for improved relationships between business, government, labour and civil society going forward. In particular, we are hopeful that the private education sector may in future be able to cooperate more closely with government, and that its ability to add value to all South Africans, by contributing to improvement in the education system as a whole, while also enabling greater access to quality education, will be recognised and the opportunity to work together for the greater good grasped. At the tertiary level, the appointment of Dr Naledi Pandor as minister of Higher Education and Training is seen in a positive light and ADvTECH looks forward to constructive engagement with the Minister and her team.
While the assurances by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation address last year, of an economic “new dawn”, have yet to be meaningfully realised, we welcome the promise that the country will intensify efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country, and to attract R1.3 trillion in investment over the next five years. Of significance is the establishment by the President of a Commission of Enquiry into State Capture, which has the potential to address and turn around those practices both in the public and private sector which have hampered economic growth for most of the past decade, and have caused concern on the part of local and foreign investors.
ADvTECH has always believed that our core business, education, will be the enabler of Africa’s prosperity and success because it equips our students, as future leaders, with the skills required to grow the economy. We are renowned for our commitment to academic excellence and we have become increasingly alive to our role in contributing meaningfully towards the attainment of inclusive growth in South Africa and throughout the rest of Africa through education and human capital development. In our quest to enrich more people’s lives and prospects, we will continue to increase our more affordable offerings at school and tertiary level. This, combined with our strategy to increase our resourcing division’s joint venture partnerships in the rest of Africa and our continued expansion into Africa as outlined in the CEO’s report, means our position as the leader in quality private education and resourcing services remains unrivalled, and that our growth trajectory remains intact.
Despite the financial pressure on South African consumers, the effects of emigration and the tough operating environment in the period under review, we successfully executed our strategy, adjusting it where necessary and maintained our upward growth path as reflected in the market-related investment return to our shareholders.
The R3 billion expansion plan approved by the board in 2017 continues to be rolled out on a prudent basis having regard to the financial pressures referred to above. Additional opportunities, such as the acquisition of Monash South Africa and the acquisition and roll out of schools in Kenya, continue to be evaluated and, if appropriate, implemented.
The resourcing division, despite adverse economic conditions, managed to grow its market share locally. In the rest of Africa, the division showed excellent growth, resulting in both revenue and operating profit increasing.
On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to thank the valued and loyal employees of the group for their commitment, contribution and dedication in delivering the highest standards of excellence to all our stakeholders. Our people, who uphold the reputation of ADvTECH and our commitment to quality, are integral to our success. We would also like to express our appreciation to the CEO and the executive committee for the essential role they play in ensuring that our strategy is successfully executed throughout the group. We further acknowledge that none of our continued success would be possible without the foundations established by those who have come before us.
We welcomed a new board member, Jens Zimmermann, in April 2018. All board members are committed to remaining accountable to our stakeholders through transparent lines of communication and informed decisions. Our common goal is to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the ADvTECH group, and making a real difference to the communities and countries in which we operate.
I wish to thank my colleagues on the board for their invaluable input, advice and support throughout the year, and facing head-on and resolutely the challenges associated with a business the size and scale of ours, operating under often difficult circumstances.
Finally, I wish to thank all our stakeholders for their continued support and engagement.