The Gearhouse Group of Companies is prominent in the equipment rental market for live events in South Africa, and has recently announced that it is advancing the service onto the African continent with the establishment of Gearhouse Ghana, a fully stocked operation located in Accra.

Over the past few years, the Group has experienced a steady increase in the demand for cross border services in line with the escalating interest in the African continent as an event destination. Gearhouse regularly services events in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Seychelles, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, Brunei, Tunisia, Congo, Namibia, Egypt, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Zambia, and Tanzania.

Local live event industry suppliers are generally unable to provide technical equipment and expertise to the standard required, making eventing in these areas an expensive exercise with freighting of equipment and personnel, adding unavoidable costs. Gearhouse can now provide West African events with the same level of technical services as there is available in any other major event destination, both quickly and cost effectively.

Heading up the new company are Bill and Nicky Lawford whose African events experience is extensive and who both have many years of experience within the South African operation. “I have worked in 70 countries, so adapting to the new location and market has been relatively straightforward. Currently we are servicing mostly corporate functions and developing the business through our successes with both local and international clients. We have formed strong relationships with our clients and one of our success factors is that we hold independent public liability insurance, which is not common practice here,’ says Bill.

Gearhouse Ghana offers a full technical solution with a fast turnaround and professional delivery, an approach which is proving attractive to a host of corporates, event managers, destination management companies, professional conference organisers, venues, television companies and promoters wanting to mount events in West Africa.

The company’s warehouse in Tema carries a stock of internationally recognised brands in static and moving lighting, PA, video projectors, screens, plasma displays and various conference aids as well as trussing, rigging, stage elements (steeldeck) and scenic flats. Through established partnerships with local suppliers, Gearhouse Ghana are able to supply additional requirements such as backline and customised set building, ensuring that for the first time in Ghana, clients have access to a fully integrated, versatile range of technical services to an international benchmark. The branch services day-to-day business from the local stock but, given a slightly longer lead time to accommodate logistics and customs formalities, is also able to provide for more unusual or complex requirements from the South African resource.

“The biggest single barrier to growth of the events market here is the lack of venues. The recent opening of a new ballroom at one of the main hotels with similar projects to follow will go some way to addressing the problem, but even with these in place there is an enormous gap for a venue of 5 000 capacity. A Gearhouse In2Structures Dome could open up new possibilities here,’ explains Bill.

The establishment of the West African arm of Gearhouse was designed to meet the ever increasing need for events within Africa and beyond, with a specific focus on ontributing to the development of the live event industry in West Africa. The country is well positioned for growth as a recognised event destination, but technical event resources and expertise need significant development to realise that goal.