President Cyril Ramaphosa, with other dignitaries, tours the Volvo Trucks assembly plant in Durban. Picture: UD TRUCKS
President Cyril Ramaphosa, with other dignitaries, tours the Volvo Trucks assembly plant in Durban. Picture: UD TRUCKS

Volvo Group Southern Africa welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa to its Volvo Trucks assembly plant in Durban recently

Also in attendance was Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor, as well as the Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Bulelani Gratitude Magwanishe. During his address, Ramaphosa thanked Volvo for its continuing investment in the South African economy and its commitment in particular to the empowerment and development of the youth.

"Volvo is one of those companies who believe that it is not enough to invest in factories, machinery and supply chains. They believe it is necessary also to invest in society. We therefore applaud Volvo for making youth development such an integral part of its social investment programme," said Ramaphosa.

As the largest Swedish firm and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine, and industrial engines, Volvo Group employs about 100,000 people, has production facilities in 18 countries and sells its products in 190 markets.

MODERN LOGISTICS IS A PREREQUISITE FOR OUR ECONOMIC WELFARE — TRANSPORT HELPS TO COMBAT POVERTY.

Here in SA, the group is represented by Volvo Trucks, Volvo Bus, Volvo Financial Services, Volvo Penta and UD Trucks. It employs about 1,000 people across the region, including at its assembly plants in Durban, as well as in Rosslyn.

"Our mission is to drive prosperity," says Torbjörn Christensson, president of Volvo Group Southern Africa.

"On a basic level, we believe that modern logistics is a prerequisite for our economic welfare — simply put, transport helps to combat poverty. Most importantly, we are committed to influence growth towards a sustainable society. We create societal value by actively engaging in the communities where we live and operate."

The company says it has been actively engaged with communities to implement numerous initiatives where community needs are met by the company’s assets and expertise, to maximise the value created for society as a whole.

In 2015, it invested R80m in a new regional distribution centre in the Ekurhuleni area. The company has also received preliminary approval for an investment of R150m to build a new state-of-the-art dealership in Durban South.

Since 2015, the group has invested more than R86m on apprenticeship training, automotive industry learnerships, disabled person learnerships, as well as internships. The company says it is planning to invest another R25m during 2018.

During the course of 2018, it will also establish a specialised driver training academy to tackle the shortage of skilled drivers in the region, an investment of R1.4m.

"We are also continuing our involvement in Star for Life, a nonprofit organisation that aims to provide young people in SA with essential life skills, sport training and health education. In the three years from 2017 to 2019, we are planning to invest about R7.8m in this very worthy cause," says Christensson.

Star for Life is a project that creates new opportunities for young people in SA to complete an education and to create good lives for themselves.

In the process, opportunities also arise for some of the qualified youth that completed their training through Star for Life, to be employed by Volvo.

"In short, we believe in the future of SA. We especially believe in the youth of SA and the endless potential the youth holds," says Christensson.

"As a global company, with a strong commitment to the success of SA, we also support the government’s initiative to focus on youth development as is envisioned in initiatives such as the proposed Youth Employment Service."

Christensson closed by saying that as a global company, Volvo Group is proud of its business successes in SA. "We are even more proud of the difference we believe we are making by investing in skills development, youth development, and giving back to the industry and the country as a whole."