Mthoko Mbatha - We view customer-centricity as a key competitive differentiator

Mthoko Mbatha - We view customer-centricity as a key competitive differentiator
Mthoko Mbatha:Group Chief Executive Officer of SLG

MTHOKO MBATHA is the Group Chief Executive Offer of SLG (Pty) Ltd, the second largest trading company of Natural Gas in South Africa (with Sasol Gas being the largest). SLG is an award winning 100% black owned company, which commenced its operation in July 2002.

Mbatha has served as an executive at SLG for the past 14 years in various capacities including holding the position of Head of Sales and Marketing. During this period, he has accumulated vast experience in the gas industry and has spearheaded the phenomenal growth realised by the business.

The company supplies Natural Gas to industrial and commercial companies situated in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Gauteng. As the second largest piped- as trader in South Africa and the number one trader of Compressed Natural Gas in southern Africa, SLG strives to contribute to the development and the shaping of the future of the Natural Gas industry.

During his tenure at SLG, Mbatha has gained extensive commercial experience, and developed a solid business acumen.

He considers his leadership style to be collaborative, which has allowed him to build robust relations with regulatory bodies such as the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), the Department of Energy (DOE), SLG's suppliers and more importantly its customers. As Group CEO of the business, Mbatha is excited about the opportunity that he has been given to ascend this business in the ever-changing landscape of the gas industry.

SLG provides a primary energy source to the majority of manufacturing sector companies in KZN that employ thousands of people. These are companies that contribute approximately 17.1% to the province's Gross Domestic Product. SLG has spearheaded the transition from high carbon fuels to lower carbon gas, as natural gas has 50% of the carbon footprint of energy sources such as coal.

Mbatha says that the competitive advantage of SLG emanates from its abilities to supply gas to various industry via pipeline as well as on a portable basis via Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) technology. Through CNG, SLG is currently supplying gas to a JSE listed company which is situated a distance away from the
pipeline gas network.

Informed by its approach to business, which is customer centricity, Mbatha said, "SLG's future is contingent on the success of its customers in their respective sectors. It is imperative that we understand what matters to our customers so that we may create value for our customers." Hence, SLG is committed to providing innovative, reliable and accessible services to its existing customers.

SLG strives to contribute towards ensuring that more natural gas become available in the market to enable additional gas demand requirements in the market being met.

"As a significant trader in the market playing at the tail-end of the gas supply value chain, SLG will continue to unearth and congregate new markets for upstream investment. This will certainly ensure that the 3% market share of natural gas in the country primary energy mix increases to at least 7% by 2030 in line with the ambitions of the Department of Energy."

As mentioned gas constitutes only 3% of SA primary energy mix compared to the global norm of 25%. Lack of supply, inadequate infrastructure, and abundance of cheaper coal are throttling South Africa's gas demand growth. The recent discovery of 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Mozambique is the game changer that the natural gas industry has needed in order to expand the current network. Natural gas/Methane Rich Gas is 35% cheaper than liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and about 66% cheaper than illuminating paraffin and 165% cheaper that diesel on an energy per unit basis. Only coal is cheaper, but this energy source will be subject to the upcoming carbon tax legislation, which will levy R120 per ton of CO2 equivalent on emission - therefore the conversion of combustion equipment to natural gas is often economically feasible.

Mbatha explained that SLG consistently targets spend on corporate social investment programmes, primarily supporting science and maths advancement at historically underprivileged communities' schools, donating resources like science and computer hardware, as well as sponsoring labs for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math's) programmes. "SLG also seeks to improve our communities with various projects ranging from the deaf and blind society, speech impediments projects, ECR toy story, AmaLunchbox drive etc."

Mbatha concluded, "Our staff are our most valuable assets and we continually bolster their knowledge by ensuring that they engage the latest industry developments and trends. Hence, our "People First" ethos underpins every aspect of our operations especially our interaction with our customers, suppliers, employees, regulatory bodies and communities within which we operate."

"Outside SLG, I'm a family man who enjoys spending quality time with my wife and children."

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