We find ourselves in unprecedented times as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe at ever-increasing speed. This has brought with it uncertainty and anxiety as public and local private health authorities scramble to develop preventative measures to contain its spread while governments and health providers scale up their services to test and treat its citizens.
At Illovo, with businesses of considerable agricultural and manufacturing scale across six southern African countries, our COVID-19 response leads with the unequivocal assertion: “It’s in our hands”. This statement underscores the direct responsibility that we all have in our work and private lives to endeavour to prevent contracting the virus and also, to deliver on our firm commitment to contribute to the containment of the virus across the continent.
What we have done
In addition to creating awareness about the virus, our responses at a leadership level have been to institute immediately a range of measures appropriate to the determined level of risk. We have a comprehensive business continuity programme to ensure that we continue to operate as effectively as possible during uncertain times like these. Currently, while we encounter increasing difficulties on a daily basis, there has been no material impact on our ability to operate and we are working hard to ensure that it remains this way.
Our primary goals – in addition to the safety of our people and their loved ones - are to continue to serve our consumers and customers across all of our African and international markets, with a clear focus on uninterrupted production, keeping our supply chains and logistical operations free of impediment and delivering on our mandate as Africa’s largest sugar producer to provide access to affordable, quality products.
We have implemented a number of interventions to date, including personal and business travel restrictions, the segregation of teams performing essential functions, self-isolation and social distancing rules, and enhanced office sanitation - in addition to a range of measures to enhance the personal safety and well-being of our operational staff employed at agricultural and manufacturing operations across the Group. We are also prepared for a worsening situation and in South Africa specifically, we have already begun preparing for the country’s “Lockdown” commencing at midnight, Thursday 26 March for a period of 21 days, announced by President Ramaphosa in a national address broadcast on Monday 24 March. As a food and ingredients producer, Illovo – together with all of the South African sugar industry – has been identified as an “essential service” and will continue to produce sugar for our South African markets. Our goal is to develop scaled responses dependent on the perceived / real risk to our businesses.
What we continue to do
Our cross-functional response group actively monitors coronavirus developments on a daily basis, including the latest guidance from our own medical services, with four hospitals and 27 clinics across the group, and in conjunction with public health authorities. We will continue to communicate with employees through a dedicated information campaign and are providing regular updates, as relevant and appropriate, to all of our stakeholders. We encourage everyone to be vigilant in adhering to the WHO basic protective measures against the novel coronavirus. Our focus is on the health and wellbeing of our people, growers, consumers, customers, local communities and a range of other important stakeholders, while at the same time concentrating on uninterrupted production and delivery of product to customers and consumers within our wider Thriving Community.
I am pleased to share with you a customised COVID-19 preventative guide which we have given to all of our employees.