By Myles Illidge for MyBroadand
The Yekani manufacturing facility in East London has had its assets auctioned off, with some of its 10-inch tablets being sold for as little as R234, MyBroadband has learned.
Yekani closed the R1 billion factory in January 2020, citing financial issues.
According to a MyBroadband reader who lives in East London, the auction included about 3,000 assembled 10-inch tablets with detachable keyboards.
The tablets were auctioned off in different batch sizes.
Based on a Bidorbuy listing, which sold one of the devices for R1,900, the tablets feature a 7th generation Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM. The tablets run Windows 10 Pro with no preinstalled licence.
Yekani apparently produced the tablets for schools, as the unit inspected by the reader had a KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education badge on the back.
Other assets auctioned off included:
- Interactive large-screen monitors;
- An Isuzu KB72 double cab bakkie;
- Zebra ZM400 printers;
- A Brother VM400TE/AC vacuum packager;
- An Acepak LS 600 x 800p industrial vacuum packer;
- Technician work stations;
- Sorting tables; and
- Office furniture.
The auction took place on Wednesday and Thursday, 25 and 26 May 2022.
Yekani’s electronics factory was opened by former trade and industry minister Rob Davies in East London in June 2018.
Less than two years later, the company was forced into liquidation after it could not repay a large loan from Standard Bank.
Shortly after liquidation proceedings began, it was reported that the real reason for Yekani’s closure was because it “refused to sell a controlling stake to the husband of communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams”.
However, Yekani refuted the statement, saying that it did not blame Ndabeni-Abrahams and her husband — or anyone else — for its financial difficulties.
“Yekani and its group CEO in particular take full responsibility for its current state, and its priority remains to do everything in its power to protect and save the jobs of its employees,” it said.
Yekani also auctioned off its machinery, including this Acepak vacuum packer.
Yekani is not the only South African electronics manufacturer to go belly up this year.
In February, South Africa’s first smartphone factory was put up for auction in an attempt by funders to salvage what they could from the facility.
Mara phones announced to much fanfare in 2019 that it had raised R1.5 billion to set up and run the factory.
It claimed the facility could manufacture 1.2 million smartphones for the domestic and regional market and had already employed 200 workers upon opening.
However, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) would later reveal that Mara South Africa ultimately only raised R429 million, of which R238 million came from the IDC.
President Cyril Ramaphosa opened the Mara facility in October 2019, and after just more than two years of operation, it has been forced to liquidate its assets.
However, in March, the Mara Phones management buyout team claimed that it had secured an investor that could help save the South African factory and the jobs of those employed by Mara.
Dyson, best-known as a manufacturer of vacuum cleaners, hand driers and air filters, will build an electric car by 2020, founder James Dyson said Tuesday.
The company is investing one billion pounds ($1.34 billion) to develop the car, plus the same sum to create solid-state batteries to power it, Dyson said. These investments will dwarf money the company is spending on research and development for its vacuums and air filters.
Dyson is joining a crowded field, with manufacturers from Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG to Toyota Motor Corp. and Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. all competing to popularize electric vehicles. While most of these companies are using lithium-ion batteries in their current models, Dyson said its car would use solid-state batteries that are smaller, more efficient, easier to charge and potentially easier to recycle. Toyota is also working on solid-state batteries and said earlier this year it hopes to have them in electric vehicles by the early 2020s.
Dyson said his electric car would be “radically different” than those being designed by other car makers, including Tesla. “There’s no point doing something that looks like everyone else’s,” he said. “It is not a sports car and not a very cheap car.”
He said he hopes the vehicle will be just the first of a line of electric vehicles from Dyson and predicted that within a few years electric cars would be the largest source of revenue for the company, eclipsing its existing products.
Dyson has been investing in battery technology for several years. In October 2015, it bought a startup called Sakti3 for $90 million. The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based firm had claimed major breakthroughs in the design of solid-state batteries. But these were disputed by other battery researchers, and in April Dyson said it was abandoning its agreement to license Sakti3’s patented battery technology from the University of Michigan, which had spun out the company.
Dyson said Tuesday that his company now has two competing solid-state battery development groups: Sakti3 and a separate team working on a different approach. The U.K. government has given Dyson a 16 million-pound grant to help it do battery research.
Dyson said the company already has 400 engineers dedicated to its car project, which has been working in secret for the past two-and-a-half years. In the past year, the company has made a number of prominent hires from Aston Martin and Tesla. Dyson employs about 4,000 in the U.K.
The founder said Dyson was going public with its project now — even though it does not expect to be able to deliver a car to its first customers until 2020 or early 2021 — because secrecy around the project was constraining its ability to do deals with auto parts suppliers for the new car and also hampering recruiting.
One of the biggest impediments to electric car adoption has been the lack of charging infrastructure, and some manufacturers including Tesla are building station networks. But Dyson said his company did not have enough money to build its own charging network as well as the cars and the batteries.
“Tesla has $5 billion, I don’t have that kind of money,” he said. He said he hoped the U.K. government would provide money to help subsidize the installation of 21 kilowatt plug points in people’s homes, allowing them to rapidly charge an electric vehicle in their own garage. Today, only a handful of homes have these hook-ups.
While design work for Dyson’s car will be at Hullavington Airfield, a former training site for Britain’s Royal Air Force in Wiltshire, England, battery and car manufacturing facilities will likely be in Asia, the company said. Dyson currently makes products in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
“We will make it wherever it is best to make it,” Dyson said of the car. The largest market for the new electric cars will be in “the Far East” and this argues for putting the manufacturing facilities there too, he added.
The announcement by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, that Nigeria will begin manufacturing pencils is a welcome indication of the nation’s return to the benefits of home-grown industrial capability.