A BESA Q&A with Kobus van Wyk, CEO at ADESSA – Associated Distributors of Education Supplies in Southern Africa
Formed in 2003, the Associated Distributors of Educational Supplies in Southern Africa, is a body representing educational suppliers in their dealings with government departments, educational institutions and other interested parties. It is independent of government, and is funded by subscriptions from member companies. A bit like a South African BESA!
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and ADESSA?
I have been involved in the use of technology in education for several decades, in both the public and private sectors. I retired three years ago and was approached by the ADESSA committee to manage the organization. ADESSA was established in 2003 to serve a similar purpose in South Africa to what BESA is doing in the UK. ADESSA has a good relationship with the different education authorities in South Africa and at present our main focus is to ensure a flow of information between the decision makers of education and our members. I am attaching a brief profile infographic. The landing page of our website www.adessa.org.za is in the form of a blog, where we post information about our members, their products and their activities. We are also in the process of building a Twitter presence ADESSA_Tweets.
Are you similar to BESA in that you are a membership based organisation?
Yes, ADESSA is a non-profit membership based organization, funded by membership fees of its members.
What sort of companies do you work with and what sectors do they operate in i.e. education technology, furniture?
Whereas the scope of ADESSA allows for membership of all service providers to education, thus far our members are mainly those who provide technology solutions: hardware, content, internet services, training, etc.
For our UK company members what are the latest developments in Southern African education?
At the last State of the Nation Address (SONA), the president of South Africa announced that within the next few years, each learner in the country will be given a device (most likely a tablet) with relevant digital curriculum content. This opens a huge opportunity for vendors who can provide these tools, provided there is a good fit with the local curriculum.
How does the government support education in Southern Africa?
A national Department of Basic Education (DBE) sets education policy and provides guidance and quality assurance. Each of the nine provinces in the country has its own Provincial Department of Education (PDE), which oversees the implementation of policies in the provinces. All procurement of materials are done through the PDEs, although some schools do their own.
How does the school system work? Is it mainly state schools and some private schools or totally different?
There are over 25 000 public schools (state schools) in South Africa (upwards of 12 million learners, and over 500 000) and several thousand private schools. Many of the state schools are serving the poorest of the poor.
Is it easy for UK companies to sell products directly into Southern Africa?
It is not all that easy for non-South African companies to sell directly into South Africa, unless they have a recognized branch in the country. The easiest route is to appoint an existing South African company to act as a reseller of UK products and services.
What are the current opportunities there for UK companies?
As mentioned above, the best opportunity would be to partner with local companies, who already has a good footprint in the market, and who can serve as resellers.
Read our Q&A with Aditya Gupta, India Didactics Association from earlier in the year regarding the Indian market.