About Advance Africa - Who We Are

Advance Africa specializes in aquaculture, agriculture, environmental and fisheries solutions in sub-Saharan Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Region.

Partnering with global investors and leading technology players, we continually search for investment opportunities and project management solutions. Our goals are to achieve sustainable investment, advance employment and improve lives.

Advance Africa offers a diversity of solutions from: scoping and feasibility studies, market assessments and planning, project development, ongoing support and reporting.

The company’s core strength is a multi-disciplinary approach to solutions. With widespread experience in the sciences, business management, and built environment in various countries we understand the sensitivities around the social, political and environmental contexts.


 “To be the leading consultancy in sustainable Aquaculture, Agriculture, Environmental and Fisheries solutions in sub-Saharan Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Region”

Advance Africa put Ichthyology and Fisheries Science into practice, through the conceptualisation and development of sustainable aquaculture projects, whilst utilizing advanced technology and global best practice.

Furthermore, Advance Africa offer advisory services in the fisheries sector. We provide guidance on the management of marine and freshwater fisheries, and value chain studies to sustainably utilize these resources in line with ecological, economic and social objectives.

With our significant experience in agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and environmental management, we are results-driven and are able to develop tailor-made solutions to optimize microclimatic growing environments (including greenhouses), ventilation systems, water supply, storage, purification, and fertigation systems.

Current aquaculture species that we are involved in include: kapenta, tilapia, catfish, trout, sole, yellowtail, kob, grouper, snapper, pompano, rock lobster, abalone, prawns/shrimp, mud crabs, ornamental aquarium species, sea urchin (uni) and sea cucumber.

Our agriculture expertise includes production of grain crops, various root vegetables, bio-diesel crops, cotton, paprika, pomegranates, mushrooms, tomatoes, roses, chicken, cattle, sheep and goats.

Senior Management at Advance Africa

Professor Emeritus Thomas Hecht (PHD)

Prof Tom Hecht is regarded as a leading authority in Aquaculture and Fisheries Science throughout Africa and the West Indian Ocean region.

Tom brings 45 years’ of science, research and industry development experience to Advance Africa, making it one of the most qualified consulting companies in this subject matter. Tom is highly regarded by his peers and has published in excess of 150 peer reviewed scientific papers.

Grant Merrick

Grant is a founding member of Advance Africa and specialises in the assessment of the economic feasibility of new and existing agricultural and aquaculture businesses.

Grant has in excess of 25 years’ experience in operational and general management of large agricultural and aquaculture businesses. Allowing him to apply such first-hand experience in assessing new businesses and approaches to business development.

Fred Formanek

Fred is a founding member of Advance Africa and is currently the Managing Member. He has in excess of 25 years’ experience in project and business development and has served on numerous boards in Southern Africa for companies specialising in Agriculture and Aquaculture.

Fred brings solid large-scale project management and business development experience to the Group. Furthermore, Fred is the core member of the team with regards to market related assessments of aquaculture products, with significant experience in market research and development in Asia .

Franco Giovanni Pellegrini

Franco has led many development and design teams throughout Africa on behalf of Public and Private sector organizations.

The work Franco has successfully undertaken spans most sectors and elements of the built environment including: new towns with all aspects of associated infrastructure and services (for new mining projects), hospitals, schools, commercial and industrial developments, airports and harbour infrastructure.

  • Hecht, T. 2017. Key differentiators for sustainable aquaculture. World Aquaculture Symposium, Cape Town, July 2017.
  • Hecht, T.  2008. ReCoMap (EU) Assessment of smallscale mariculture opportunities in Seychelles, Kenya and Mauritius. 2007/2008.
  • Hecht, T. 2007. FAO report: Reduction fisheries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Hecht, T., Uys, W. and Britz, P.J. (Eds).  A guide to the culture of the sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus in southern Africa. South African National Scientific Programmes Report. (153): 62 ‑ 72.
  • Hecht. 1996. South African Dept. of Water Affairs and Forestry – Water Quality Guidelines for Aquaculture.
  • Hecht, T. and Jones, C.L.W. 2009. Use of wild fish and other aquatic organisms as feed in aquaculture – a review of practices and implications in Africa and the Near East.
  • M.R. Hasan and M. Halwart (eds). Fish as feed inputs for aquaculture: practices, sustainability and implications. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 518. Rome, FAO. pp. 129–157.
  • Potts, W., Hecht, T. & Andrew, T.G. 2008. Does reservoir trophic status influence the feeding and growth of the sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus (Teleostei: Clariidae)? African Journal of Aquatic Science, 33 (2): 149-156.
  • Hecht, T. 2001. Strategies and measures for sustainable aquaculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Invited paper presented at: Expert Consultation On Indicators Of Sustainable Aquaculture Development , Rome, Italy, 24 – 27 September 2001.
  • Both , A.J and Hecht, T. 2000. Utilisation of South Africa’s living marine resources. In: Summary Marine Biodiversity Status Report for South Africa. Durham, B.D. & Pauw, J.C. (eds). Pp. 57 – 67. National Research Foundation, Pretoria.

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Advance Africa is an active collaborator with a host of credible institutions and related organisations. We see this as an important function of our mission; to provide additional value to our clients by drawing from our extensive global networks.

 One such collaboration is our working relationship with the Rhodes University’s Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science for strategic projects. The Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science is an internationally recognized, leading African academic institution in the study of fish and the sustainable utilization of aquatic resources.

 With Professor Hecht’s long career at Rhodes University, where he was Head of Department for 20 years, and his ongoing supervisory role, Advance Africa has a strong affiliation with this leading academic institution.