Tag Archives: underground mines

Mines & Technology 2017 Toronto

Newtrax is Presenting at Mines & Technology 2018 in Toronto

Newtrax is Presenting at Mines & Technology Toronto 2018

Newtrax will be attending the Mines and Technology conference in Toronto on October 16 2018. As Silver Sponsors, we are excited to be supporting this essential platform where coveted speakers from all around the world are gathering to share their latest projects and ideas for the mining industry.

Newtrax will be speaking on October 16 at 14:15 -on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence Using Real-Time Data”.

We will also be taking one-on-one meeting requests for those who are interested in learning more about how Newtrax helps mines achieve their digitization goals with the latest Internet-of-Things (IoT) and analytics technologies.

Mine Evacuation Best Practices

Best Practices for a Safe Underground Evacuation

Best Practices for a Safe Underground Evacuation

Mine Evacuation Best Practices
Photo Credit: https://www.workplacesafetynorth.ca/news/news-post/mining-safety-report-new-heat-stress-standard-released-ontario

One of the biggest challenges underground mining operations face is visibility of events happening underground from the surface. When monitoring an evacuation situation, this limitation is even more pronounced when ensuring miner safety during an emergency.

Newtrax recently spoke to Michael Place, Unit Manager at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine, about the best practices to follow during emergency evacuations. Michael has spearheaded the implementation of the Newtrax Evacuation Notification system at Granny Smith and will be speaking about the benefits of this digital system at the upcoming IMARC 2018 conference in Melbourne.

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Newtrax: What types of dangers are miners exposed to underground that  could trigger an emergency evacuation?

Michael Place: When it comes to dangers facing miners underground, the most terrifying would be fire. Operating diesel powered equipment in a confined space can deplete oxygen when fire and smoke break out. Some other triggers of an emergency include, but are not limited to, seismicity (underground earthquake), fall of ground, unintentional initiation of explosives, any personnel medical emergency, gas intersection, water inrush, vehicle vs vehicle collision and so on.

 

Newtrax: What are the first 3 things personnel working underground should do when an emergency has been announced?

Michael Place:

  1. Park up equipment off main travel ways
  2. Make their way to the nearest refuge chamber
  3. Maintain radio silence to allow the airways to be clear for communication to the incident scene

 

Newtrax: What are the most important things to think about during an emergency underground?

Michael Place: Accounting for all personnel and if there is an injured person, getting them to the surface as quickly and as safely as possible.

 

Newtrax: How are emergencies in underground mines different from any other emergency alarm?

Michael Place: The sheer size of an UG mine adds a layer of complexity to an emergency. Accounting for personnel and communicating from above ground to underground are some of the hardest things to manage. Generally, the assistance required in an emergency comes from above ground through the form of a medical professional or the emergency response team (ERT).

 

Newtrax: How does technology enable emergency evacuation to be safer?

Michael Place: Accounting for personnel underground without the use of the radio allows the radio to remain clear for communication to the incident scene. Allowing real time tracking of personnel gives the incident controller data like never before to focus on the incident at hand.

 

Newtrax: What kind of advice would you give to other underground mines about best practices regarding safer emergency evacuations?

Michael Place: When it comes to enhancing safety UG during emergency evacuations, the most important aspect is getting all personnel out from UG or to a safe location in a safe manner, as quickly as possible.

Best practice now combines multiple technologies including stench gas, voice over alarm and the Newtrax Evacuation system to ensure communicating to all personnel that an emergency in in place is done as fast a possible. Investing in technology to enhance safety in UG mines ensures everyone goes home safely every day.

Learn how Big Data, IoT, and Predictive Maintenance can help you?

Contact a Newtrax Expert to answer all your questions on how our custom solutions can integrate seamlessly with your underground mining operation.

Underground Mine is the Future

Will underground mining replace surface mining in the future?

Will underground mining replace surface mining in the future?

Underground Mine is the Future

A wave of influential factors – including economic, political, environmental and technological advances – strongly suggest that underground mining will be the miner’s method of necessity in the not-so-distant future.

Mineral explorers and project developers are increasingly unable to find economically viable deposits with a proven plan for open-pit mining operations. Many companies currently operating surface mines will be looking towards brownfield underground operations to expand operations and extend mine life.

This, however, is not the entire foundation for the future of underground mining.

Emerging economies across the globe are growing their middle-class populations in bustling urban centers, putting ever-increasing demands on mining operations to produce the raw materials that make modern society possible, from infrastructure to consumer goods.

However, while consumers want a new car, a television and even renewable energy infrastructure, they tend to no longer accept the environmental and social costs that surface mining has on their communities. Policymakers and neighbors of mining operations vocally reject the visual impact of an open-pit, a waste dump and the destruction of habitat it brings during construction and operations.

“They are unwilling to accept the loss of farmland, the possible impacts on ground and surface water, loss of recreational space or the noise and traffic issues stemming from truck traffic associated with surface mining,” according to the research. “Underground Mining for Meeting Environmental Concerns – A Strategic Approach for Sustainable Mining in Future.”

The pioneering work of Newtrax is eliminating the current digital divide between surface mines and underground mines to make operations safer, environmentally sustainable and more profitable.

Big Data is helping to reach ore deposits more economically

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are helping miners reach underground ore deposits more economically.  Digital twinning, first created by NASA, allows geologists and engineers to develop predictive work models using real-time data from the field to test out production scenarios before they are implemented, leading to productivity and environmental improvements.

Real-time data improving productivity

Rio Tinto generates 2.4 terabytes of data every minute from mobile equipment and sensors at its  16 mines, 1,500km of rail, three ports around the globe. Data-driven precision mining powered by machine learning will make the mining industry more profitable.  The data helps miners know how much of the ore has been extracted and which direction it has traveled – key performance indicators vital to driving improvements in the mine. This can be especially helpful in block caving, an efficient underground mining method that uses gravity to force ore to strategic draw points below. Other miners are reducing fuel and energy costs by using smart machines to sort mined material based on set criteria defined by real-time analytics.

IoT technology is making underground mining safer

Working deep within an underground mine is dark, wet and inherently hazardous. Having initially adopted a ‘fast follower’ approach to IoT technology, the notoriously risk-averse sector is finally waking up to the fact that data is now, arguably, its most precious commodity, with 40% of mining businesses now expecting to leverage the technology within the next 12 months.

IoT has the potential to improve safety, automate machinery operation, facilitate predictive rather than preventative maintenance, improve traceability and harness real-time data and analytics.

Equipment performance and maintenance

Unplanned downtime is very costly to mining operations. Mobile equipment sensors give miners real-time health checks of their equipment, including temperature, speed, and vibration. This allows operators to predict when to schedule planned maintenance. In underground room and pillar settings, this can keep an operation in continuous production, avoiding costly shutdowns.

The ability to access this data empowers mining companies to understand the precise manner in which their machines are being used, how well each individual machine is functioning, and can offer predictive suggestions to increase both productivity and profit.

The data mining of today is literally setting the groundwork for the next-generation underground mine that will be powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning capable of producing incredibly productive operations that protect human life and the environment.

Learn how Big Data, IoT, and Predictive Maintenance can help you?

Contact a Newtrax Expert to answer all your questions on how our custom solutions can integrate seamlessly with your underground mining operation.

Using Technology to Increase Safety during Mine Evacuations

Using Technology to Increase Safety during Mine Evacuations

One of the biggest challenges underground mining operations deal with is visibility of events happening underground from the surface.  When monitoring an evacuation situation, this limitation is even more pronounced when ensuring miner safety during an emergency.

The team at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine recently decided to change this by using technology to increase safety.  Newtrax was engaged to provide an underground personnel tracking system using their enabled cap lamps.

Through the Newtrax enabled-cap lamp technology, the Granny Smith Mine was able to improve:

  1. Safety
  2. Performance
  3. Profitability
  1. Improved Safety

The technology incorporated into the Newtrax enabled cap lamps transform the lamp into more than just a Personal Safety Device, it is an integral part of a mine evacuation system. Where the limitations of communication through two-way radio make it difficult to be 100% sure of the miners’ safety during an emergency, the Newtrax Evacuation Notification system is able to position each team member underground in real-time.

All existing Cap Lamps at the Granny Smith Mine were replaced with the Brando Corded and Cordless Cap Lamps with Newtrax Safety Features and a High-brightness Light. This allowed Granny Smith to integrate with the Newtrax Evacuation system which sends an emergency message underground to every cap lamp. When activated from the surface, the lamp lights flash, notifying all employees that an emergency has been initiated. They set up their system to work in parallel with their stench gas system and their voice over alarm.

The Newtrax Evacuation system allows Supervisors and the Emergency Response Team (ERT) to quickly determine the location of all employees below the surface, improving safety.

  1. Improved Performance

Emergency drills are important, and they take time and resources to effect, ensuring that all personnel are accounted for while handling the incident. Mines rely heavily on two-way radio for communication, and in an emergency visibility can be lost when the understanding is only as good as the radio calls made to and recorded on the surface.  

The first ever Newtrax Evacuation test was conducted at Gold Fields’ Granny smith mine on July 31st, 2018 through an underground mock emergency exercise. This is the second time worldwide that the Newtrax Evacuation system was adopted in its full capacity, and the hardware functioned seamlessly.

These systems allow the Emergency Rescue Teams (ERT) to know exactly which miners are in which refugee chambers in the mine, and refocus their energy on those who have not yet made it to their chamber.

  1. Increased Profitability

The Newtrax Evacuation system allows for effective and accurate safety drills. Using Newtrax technology reduces the time and resources needed to effectively execute and complete the drill, leaving more time for production.

The result of setting up the Newtrax Evacuation system in the Granny Smith mine was evident: improved safety, performance and profitability during an evacuation drill. Due to the safety features that the Newtrax enabled cap lamps offer, additional features can be added on to the software as required. These include vehicle proximity detection and full mine employee tracking and positioning through an expanded Newtrax Minehop network.

Talk to an expert today on how to best implement the safety measures your mine requires today.

Improve Safety, Performance and increase Profitability.

Have a Newtrax expert contact you to learn how our Custom systems can integrate into your current infrastructure.

Future of mine safety

The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability through Data Collection

The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability through Data Collection

Future of mine safety

“I think that what we are doing right now at Newtrax is defining the future needs of the mining industry.” Louis-Pierre Campeau, an AI expert with Newtrax Technologies said while describing his role and its impact on mining.

Campeau was the subject of our recent blog on  “How Big Data is Solving Three of Mining’s biggest Challenges”.  Since his role and expertise will have such a huge impact on how the mining industry will conduct business in the future, we took some time to sit down with him and talk about his personal journey, and where he sees his work impacting the mining industry over the next 5-10 years.

  1. Future of Safety in Mines
  2. Future of Mining Productivity and Profitability
  3. Future of Data collection for mining

The Mining Industry is very niche, what inspired you to branch off into Mining Engineering?

“I always knew that I wanted to go into engineering, but I wanted to do something different and unexpected.” Said Louis-Pierre who took Mining Engineering with Polytechnique. He has found the mining industry to have become much more of a passion than expected.

The new reality will make it easier to foresee possible risks and prevent them...

1.  Safety in Mines

How will the algorithms you are developing impact safety for the underground mines of the future?

“The new reality will make it easier to foresee possible risks and prevent them.  Predictive maintenance would be the best example of this” explained Campeau. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, companies with a 9% reactive maintenance rate had a recordable incident rate of .1%, while those with a 64% reactive maintenance had a recordable incident rate of 4.3%.

These statistics highlight how having reliable equipment is safer.  Interpreting real-time data on your equipment and how they interact in the mining environment keeps everyone safer in the mine.  These algorithms are preparing today for the future needs of safety compliance in safety and prevention.

2.   Mining Productivity and Profitability

How do you see the shift toward technology impacting the future of Underground Mining profitability?

Louis-Pierre explains how productivity in mines is lower than in other industries, that working underground creates a gap of knowledge transfer between supervisors of different areas of the mine in real-time.  “Decisions are made while there are still variables which are unknown. Solutions like what Newtrax offers makes it possible to have a global view of situations for better decision making.” There are serious cost savings when you can make important decisions with a full and clear picture in mind.

3. Data collection for Mining

Once mines are collecting data and digitizing their systems and fleets, what’s next?

Mines have started digitizing their fleets and collecting data.  This is where data contextualization comes in. Through the fleet and network agnostic systems at Newtrax, the data collected can be connected and contextualized.  Louis-Pierre explains “Being able to have the full context of any data will bring more possibilities. Using trends and algorithms trained by multiple mines to predict events in any given mine.”

Mining will be much more calculated in the next 5 – 10 years, this means knowing exactly what is going on under the surface from to make the mine safer, more profitable and understanding how all of these elements interact with each other to have the most productive operation possible.

Digitally transform your operation today!

Speak to an expert about how with Newtrax you can monitor data in real time, improving Safety, Productivity, and Maintenance.

How Big Data is Solving Three of Mining’s Biggest Challenges

How Big Data is solving three of mining’s biggest challenges

Blog_BigDataSolvingMiningChallenges

Advancements in Industrial IoT systems have made data collection in hard to reach places such as underground mines more accessible than ever before. Thousands of sensors can now automatically upload millions of data points, revealing potential insights that were previously unattainable.

The pioneering work that Newtrax is investing in to collect this data is on the forefront of the digital transformation that the mining industry is going through, helping mining companies around the world solve their three biggest challenges:

  1. Increasing Safety while optimizing productivity
  2. Reducing costs
  3. Reducing waste to increase sustainability

However, while invaluable, all of this data can quickly become overwhelming.

To sift through the data-noise, Business Intelligence (BI) analysts can interpret past data to understand the historical performance of a business, while Machine Learning (ML) algorithms can analyze the past data (trends or patterns) to make future predictions.

Louis-Pierre Campeau, Ph.D. candidate and expert in mining optimization joined Newtrax to help us do the latter.

“If you’re on the sidelines waiting for the right moment to enter the world of Big Data and Machine Learning, you could easily get left behind,” Campeau said. “The bigger the datasets you start building now, the better equipped your Machine Learning algorithms will be five years from now, giving early adopters an incredible competitive advantage.”

For a typical large-scale operation, the mine accounts for a third or more of total operational cost. Some mid- to late-stage mines can expect capital and operational costs to double in the next five years as they navigate geological, operational and regulatory challenges.

That’s why operators of Tier 1 assets are accelerating their investments in data collection and analysis capabilities to be better prepared for the wave of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

The Big Data collected underground through IoT systems will solve mining’s biggest challenges in the following ways:

 

1. Through the data collected from people working underground, Machine Learning algorithms will be able to clearly identify trends in dangerous and hazardous situations based on past behaviour and incidents. This will enable mine management and the Health & Safety departments to take preventive measures to significantly reduce the risk of accidents and fatalities underground.

2. The data collected from mobile equipment, such as tire pressure and engine performance, will enable the prediction of maintenance so precisely that time and cost associated to unplanned maintenance will be significantly reduced, or even practically eliminated. The better we can predict the previously unpredictable, the more productive the mine will be.

3. The environment, such as water, ground and gas levels, are also very powerful data points that can enable the mine to significantly reduce waste and mine with precision. By collecting, analyzing and interpreting historical data on the environment, underground mines can increase the safety of their workers and significantly reduce waste for a more sustainable mining operation.

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Is it time to go Big Data?

Big Data is, well, really big. It can be overwhelming for companies to determine where to start. Newtrax is well-positioned to provide the services, the technology, and the coaching to guide mining companies on their Big Data journey. Our staff of engineers, technology experts, and data scientists are here to help you become the industry’s next data-driven underground mining operation.

Using Big Data will help your underground operation.

Get in contact with a Newtrax expert.  Learn more about how Big Data can increase safety, reduce costs and increase overall sustainability.

Newtrax Celebrates 10 years of Servicing the Underground Mining Industry

Newtrax Celebrates 10 years of Servicing the Underground Mining Industry

10 years in the making

Newtrax celebrates ten years of servicing the underground mining industry.  Over the past ten years we have seen remarkable growth, and as we celebrate this milestone it’s important to reflect on how far we have come.

Just ten years ago we were a small basement start-up with 3 employees and a vision of partnering with underground mines to facilitate their digital transformation through wireless IoT.

To where we are today

Fast forward 10 years later with over 110 employees worldwide, with systems deployed in over 90 mines across the world, with no signs of slowing down.

We are so proud of our growth and of our team.  This global movement has been possible because of the passion of the people behind what we do.  We have been fortunate to continue attracting top industry talent as a part of the Newtrax family.

Where we are going

We don’t know what the next ten years will hold, but we do know that we will continue to strive for excellence through teamwork and trust while supporting our partners productivity, health, safety and security goals.

Newtrax Diggers and Dealers Conference Australia

Newtrax is Attending Diggers and Dealers Conference 2018

Newtrax is Attending Diggers and Dealers Conference

Newtrax will once again be attending the highly anticipated Diggers and Dealers Conference in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia from August 6th to 8th, 2018.

We are excited to be supporting and participating in this essential platform where coveted speakers from around the globe are gathering to share their latest projects and ideas for the mining industry.

We will also be taking one-on-one meeting requests for those who are interested in learning more about how Newtrax helps mines achieve their digitization goals with the latest Internet-of-Things (IoT) and analytics technologies

Australia Mining

Australian Underground Mines Leading in Technology?

Australian Underground Mines Leading in Technology?

Australia Mining

Australia is known to harbor and promote an expansive mining industry. Due to its vast remoteness in much of the country and its devotion to working inclusively with aboriginal groups, the country has successfully exploited its mineral resources.

Because of this booming industry in Australia, many of the leading open-pit mining software and technology companies are based in the country. Not only is it a safe jurisdiction to mine in, Australia is also known as a business-friendly place for creative disruptors of technology within the industry. Now, with the presence of Newtrax, underground mining in Australia now has specific IoT solutions available to them with a team familiar to the region.

Simon Waghorn came to Newtrax in September of 2017 as the Regional Vice President for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region which includes the former Soviet-Union to the Pacific Islands; Australia and New Zealand. Throughout his 25-year career in mining and industry technology, Simon gained knowledge in Operational Technology based solutions.

Simon was enticed to join the Newtrax team because of the little underground technology available. He found Newtrax technology to be innovative and in high demand. On top of that, he knew the management team was vibrant enough to make technology work in underground mines.

Simon has a focus on Australia, a major mining country, who is ahead of the curve in technology across the world.

“In Australia there is a significant uptake or at least a level of interest of these types of technologies and the value that they can deliver. We are seeing that from the Tier 1 players in the market, as well as the Tier 2 players predominantly in gold and copper. They are typically the leaders of these types of technologies.” says Simon.

Simon Waghorn
Simon Waghorn, VP APAC, Newtrax

The foundation of underground mining technologies does have roots from its open-pit neighbours. Technology in the open-pit has been advancing and adopted for quite a significant period of time. There has been a drive to try and push as much technology coming out of other industries into the open-pit with communications such as Wifi and LTE along with production software and asset management programs.

“Generically, those have been very successful and have added another level of professionalism to the open-pit. Saying that, it has become quite crowded in terms of the technologies that are there. Some big players have taken up major shares of those markets. In the underground mining technologies, however, there was very little,” he said.

In 2016 Newtrax placed its mark in underground mining technologies with the acquisition of the mining division of ISAAC Instruments Inc. From that moment, Newtrax became the world leader in Underground Mobile Equipment Telemetry.

Currently, in Australia, the Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) system is being deployed in mines where fleets include different OEMs in order for the data of these mixed fleets to be collected and analyzed in one place. This MET system makes it easier and more cost efficient for mining companies to manage diversified equipment productivity.

For example, Simon and his Newtrax team are currently conducting a trial of this technology in a large block cave Australian mine. The mine site has a fleet of Sandvik loaders and a fleet of Caterpillar loaders. With the MET data loggers, the operational requirements of these loaders are the same. Now, with Newtrax, the same data can be collected from each fleet, put into a single database, and compared. This can contribute tremendously to operational optimizations, productivity,  detection of defects, and unplanned maintenance mine-wide.

Before the deployment of the MET system, the amount of data captured was limited. Operators would call into management and report where the truck was and what it was doing. Now, with the Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry system, the operators are able to locate their vehicles directly on their screens, saving them a lot of time and cutting down tremendous costs.

These are only a few examples of how IoT systems can deliver value to the underground mining sector by increasing productivity and making the work environment safer.

Australia seems to be embracing this paradigm shift and is well-positioned to reap the benefits of being an early adopter of technologies that can make underground mines safer, more productive, and more environmentally friendly.

Newtrax europe and Middle East

Newtrax heads to Europe and the Middle East with the help of Charlie Forrest

Newtrax heads to Europe and the Middle East with the help of Charlie Forrest

Newtrax europe and Middle East

After 15 years of implementing technology solutions in various mining operations to improve productivity and safety underground, Charlie Forrest found himself a new position with Newtrax Technologies.

As the new VP of Europe and the Middle East for Newtrax, Charlie Forrest, talks about his focus on the mines in this area. “They want to improve, but they are just starting to look at digitization.” The opportunities for implementing innovative technology in mining in this new region are to instill safety and productivity by finding out where to cut down on costs and how to prevent accidents – digitally.

“Many of the mines in the area are looking at vehicle telemetry and payload as opportunities for technology in their mines,” he said. “Most countries are looking for a whole portfolio of solutions, but while gas monitoring and geotechnical monitoring is important, the main thing we can provide to these operations is our Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) systems.”

Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) solutions gather data from mining equipment to gauge how each piece of this equipment is operating. The data collected will inform European & Middle Eastern mining companies how efficiently and effectively the equipment is currently being used. The ultimate goal is to increase productivity which will positively impact the bottom line by using the underground equipment in the most optimized way possible.

Scandinavian companies have already started adopting new technologies in underground mining, as they seem to be culturally less risk-averse than surrounding countries. The early adoption of LTE in Sweden and Finland is a good indicator that the trends in wireless networking will be doing towards that direction

Charlie Forrest
Charlie Forrest

IoT Challenges in the Region

Europe and the Middle East have many opportunities to improve when it comes to data acquisition from their underground mines. Charlie admits that implementing technology in countries that are behind on innovation can be difficult to achieve due to cultural sensitivities. Companies like Newtrax need to be present locally to better understand how each unique country perceives technology adoption and what their preferred course of action may be.

“It is all commodity driven in these areas right now,” said Charlie. “Turkey has quite a lot of gold and gold mines right now. Serbia is also opening up a number of mines. Multinational mining companies, like Rio Tinto, are also looking into the area to open operations. But, fortunately, Newtrax is active with many of these mines which makes working in a diversified region a bit easier.”

Taking highly technical equipment into different areas of the world can be a challenge as well. For instance, when equipment goes into Europe, it must be certified. There needs to be a CE sticker that goes on each safety device heading into the region. This is required to ensure the products being sold in the European Economic Area are within conformity of health, safety, and environmental protection standards. Newtrax is working closely with these mining companies to make sure all products conform to each country’s regulations and comply with all requirements needed to be safely deployed.

A Culture of Success in the Region

One of the first successes using technology in mining was the “Taking the Lid off” plan at Chelopech in Bulgaria. This project involved a wireless communications network that covered almost the entire mine. The network allowed the supervisors to plan up to three months in advance with detailed tasks to be completed. The managers sent the tasks to the operators through the wireless network which was received on a tablet. The equipment was tracked using tags inside cap lamps or vehicles. This way the supervisor could locate the operator.

Dundee Precious Metals CEO, Rick Howes, wrote in a 2016 press release, “Using wireless technologies for communications and location tracking, along with smart connected equipment and sensors, we now have the ability to see past rock to what is happening in real-time throughout the mine. This allows for far better decisions to be made about the use of resources to achieve our goal of safe and cost-effective production.

Although risks had to be taken to make these advances, they pale in comparison to the many other risks that mining faces as we operate in remote and undeveloped regions of the world. We’ve done so because we believe we need to in order to remain a step ahead.”

“Taking the Lid Off” was a big success years ago for the implementation of technology in mines. Forrest, a co-author of the industry-famous white paper of the project, mentioned it planted the seed globally for innovation but, still today, there are mines not using this proven technology.

Forrest is currently visiting and conducting demos in underground mines throughout Europe and the Middle East. The opportunities in that region are vast, and if there’s one person who is best-equipped to tackle the unique challenge of that market, it’s Charlie Forrest.

Stay tuned for our next blog post on the unique challenges and opportunities of the Africa region.