Dutch Refrigeration Company opens new branch in South-Sudan
Vink Refrigeration contributes to sustainable economic development
Juba – On June 6, 2017 the Dutch company Vink Koeltechniek opened a new branch in South Sudan, a country stricken by famine and violence. With support of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) and the Dutch Embassy, the Vink Company is making a significant contribution towards the economic development of the youngest country in the world.
Doing business in South Sudan is not without risk. The country has been independent since 2011 and regularly appears in the world news because of violence, famine and refugee flows. In addition, it is ranked second on the list of most corrupt countries in the world. South Sudan has over twelve million inhabitants, is more than six times the size of the Netherlands and has a tropical climate. Cooling technology is not widely available in South Sudan; there is a significant lack of large refrigeration rooms and refrigerated transport. As a result, fresh products cannot be preserved well which means that part of the harvest is wasted.
Vink Energy Ltd.
Vink Energy Ltd. is located in the capital city of Juba, at the White Nile riverbank. The company is locally registered and has eight South Sudanese employees. Because there is not yet an education for refrigeration technology in South Sudan available, the local employees will receive an in-company training in order to become skilled refrigeration technicians. The driving force behind this initiative is the South Sudanese Yath Awan Yath and the Dutchmen Simon Slob and Nico de Bie, with De Bie in charge of daily management.
Dutch ambassador opens Vink branch
The opening ceremony of Vink Energy Ltd. received a lot of positive attention from the local media. The national television even broadcasted the event for half an hour during primetime and showed the speech of the Dutch ambassador Mr. Geert Geut. The owner of the Vink Company Simon Slob comments: ‘Our cooperation with the Dutch embassy is very pleasant and constructive. They are excited about what we are doing because refrigeration technology is a critical link in the food chain. Therefore we can make a significant contribution towards the development of the infrastructure in this country. At present, the focus is often on emergency aid, which is important. But for the long-term future more sustainable aid is of great importance.’
Cold chain is indispensable for the local economy: Fresh products must be cooled right away and kept refrigerated during transport until they reach the end consumer. That is why Vink Energy is primarily focusing on local trading businesses. They often provide transport of fresh products to the local market. If they would have access to refrigeration technology, it would have great results because less food would be discarded and food could even be transported to remote areas where food scarcity prevails.
Demonstrating innovative cooling technologies
Vink Energy is located in the port of Juba. Slob: ‘We have selected this place because of the many local businesses that are working here. We would like to show them our cooling techniques and the different applications for local businesses. These businessmen have trading skills flowing through their veins. They understand why refrigeration is so important and what difference it can make for their business.’
Multifunctional mobile storage
‘We have placed a refrigerated container in front of our office as a demo. It is designed as a cold room with freezing capacity and a scale ice machine. This mobile cold storage works on solar power using the solar panels that are placed on the roof. South Sudan is working mostly with generators and nearly no one has solar panels. That is why we want to demonstrate a better option. This mobile cooling space can be customized by our staff according to the specific needs of each client, and can be transported from Juba to any place where it is needed. For example, a refrigerated container can be used for temperature controlled transport. Or it can be designed as a small shop with a cold room and freezer compartment with an ice machine for fish.'
Relevant cooling solutions for international NGOs
Vink also wants to consider the needs of the many aid organizations working in South Sudan. By offering mobile refrigeration, NGOs have better options to relieve certain local needs. For example a cooled storage for the local harvest in the countryside, a milk tank, or a temporary refrigerated storage for relief goods in remote areas. A cold room can also make a big difference for a cooperation of local farmers, because they can refrigerate and transport their products collectively before selling it in the city.
Not only refrigeration, but also food safety is an important issue for Vink. Slob: ‘When requested, we would like to advise on HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) and how to make the most of your resources. During the mango season for example, you can see mangoes rotting on the ground everywhere, because there is a surplus. But imagine if you could harvest and process all these mangoes by freezing or refrigerate them for export, then the whole harvest could be used. This means that local people could earn more money and waste less food.’
Subsidy of Dutch government
Vink has been able to open their new branch using a DHI scheme of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl). This arrangement is intended for Dutch companies who want to execute a demonstration project of Dutch technology abroad. With this scheme, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs encourages Dutch companies to operate successfully in emerging markets by making a positive contribution towards sustainable local improvements.