Protecton delivers innovation

Protecton Engineering Namibia CC was established in 2015 by a youthful engineer, Alastair Aspara (AA). 
Tobias Tjimbandi, who is the co-managing director, joined the company as a partner in the early stages of the business.
The name Protecton is a play on words, and refers to a specialised area of electrical engineering, called electrical protection, which involves the design, implementation and integration of systems to satisfy the requirement of protecting electricity transmission and distribution assets.
Namibia is a leader in this specialist field and Protecton offers engineering, procurement, construction, testing and commissioning solutions. It also offers a comprehensive range of low to high voltage electrical engineering, solutions.
The Windhoek Observer’s Sonja Smith sat down with Aspara, who shared the company’s genesis and plans.
WO: Can you tell us more about the company and your team?
AA: The Protecton team boasts a combined experience of over 70 years in the power systems industry in Namibia. Our team members have been involved in most of the major power systems projects in Namibia after independence, including the fourth unit at the Ruacana hydropower plant, the Caprivi link interconnector, the Anixas diesel power plant, and the Grove Mall of Namibia, to name but a few.
The company saw an opportunity to deliver innovative solutions to utilities, independent power producers (IPPs) and clients with similar needs, in the Namibian market.
Protecton recognises that the evolution of the electrical power system has resulted in a greater demand for electrical engineers with skills related to computer science, information technology and telecommunications, to enhance the performance of systems. Protecton was developed to service that need.
WO: What makes your company unique, compared to other players already operating in the sector?
AA:  Our vision and mission is to practice innovation through engineering, by challenging the engineering fraternity to do more than just design layouts and project management, but to build industries, to be involved in research and development, manufacturing and more specialised fields of engineering. We do not want to only be dependent of Government spending, but we also want to create value in the free market, despite the constraints of our small population. Our team members have undergone professional studies and skills development training in countries like South Africa, England, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, and they bring together a wealth of international power systems expertise, tailored for the Namibian market. We are Namibians developing solutions for Namibia!
WO: What would you say has been the major highlights since your company started operating?
AA: We’ve been embraced by industry stakeholders and we are very pleased with this. We have made an impact on the market, by making prices more competitive and more affordable for stakeholders. Being appointed as an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) solution provider on a 5MW solar plant in Namibia, and being appointed to provide solar electricity supply to schools in the Ohangwena region, were some of the highlights.
WO: What has been some of the major challenges and obstacles you have faced and how did you manage to overcome them?
AA: The challenges we have faced are common to many professional businesses, classified as previously disadvantaged. Industries often have preferred companies to work with. These companies are often market leaders that aggressively try to dominate markets and have little sensitivity to the need for competition and additional employment opportunities in Namibia.
WO: How has been the response to Protecton so far?
AA: There has been mixed reactions. A few stakeholders have been very positive, however, there seem to be elements in the industry that do not appreciate companies like Protecton.
WO: How do you market your business?
AA: We directly visit our potential clients, to inform them of our presence in the market. The reputation of the Protecton staff have greatly helped the company to secure work. Word-of-mouth and referrals by industry players remain a good source of business for Protecton.
WO: In terms of pricing, how do you compare to the others on the market?
AA: Our business approach is always to try to offer prices that are as competitive as possible to our clients, without compromising the quality of our services.
WO: Describe the company’s management style.
If we refer to the six styles of management, I would describe the Protecton management style to be mainly COACHING, but with a combination of DIRECTIVE and AFFILIATIVE management. However, no one shoe fits all, so we adapt to situations and call in expertise to advise on a regular basis. For us, managing people remains a constant learning experience.
WO: How many employees did you have initially and how many do you have now?
AA: The company started out with three employees and our current staff count is eight. We are expecting five new appointments in the near future. We also employ artisans, electricians and fitter and turners on a project-by-project basis.
WO: From where do you draw your clientele?
AA: Our clientele includes electricity utility companies like NamPower, Erongo RED, NORED, municipalities, mining companies, independent power producers, property developers and other industrial users of electricity.
WO: Did you receive any start-up funds from Government or other sources?
AA: The funds used to finance the business up to this point have all come from loans, which were made to the company by the business partners.
However, as with any other business, growth requires additional funds, so we will continue to explore the many funding options available to us.
WO: Where do you see your company in the next five years?
AA: Implementing solutions in a highly evolved Namibian electricity sector. We will remain innovative and intend being a market leader in this regard.
We encourage stakeholders, engineers, business people, student engineers etc., to make contact with us, as we are very willing to assist where we can in providing solutions, and are also available to play a positive role in society.