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Supplier Process 2018

Heads up: we’re reviewing the process below, to ensure it’s fair on all concerned. If you have input, let us have it – mail info@afrikaburn.com, thanks.

Once upon a time, a little event in the desert happened, and it became very popular. As word spread, so the numbers grew – and along with them, so did some of the camps. Some camps got so big, they had to hire in services and suppliers to deliver essential camp infrastructure. Some of that infrastructure even became so large, it was subject to Health & Safety regulations, which meant that only certified crew were able to erect it. Along the way, many more service providers were contacted by large camps, and asked to provide a service.

Eventually, because ours is a Decommodified event, some changes had to be made, to find the happy medium between companies delivering, supplying and servicing essential gear – and the culture of the event, which expects everyone to be radically self-reliant.

That’s where we’re at right now – we’re faced with a large number of services and suppliers who (due to the remote location of our site) perform the tasks of delivering very large stretch tents, generators, building material, water containers, and so on that are necessary for Theme Camps, Art crews and everyone else to survive in the desert, so that they in turn can make a contribution to the magic of Tankwa Town. In 2017, the number of people on our site who performed this function came to around 1000 people. And like everyone else at the event, they are provided with the same set of community support services: medics, toilets, air evacuation, security and so on. All of this comes at a price, and in addition, it also costs our event in terms of manpower, infrastructure and admin to manage suppliers on site – so as at any large event, a fee is charged to support this administration.

For some years, we played it easy on this front, and only asked that suppliers (by which we mean drivers, crew and managers) pay for a one-day ticket on arrival, with these being refunded on exit. The only thing is, many of them did not play ball – they stayed for the whole week, or brought in extra gear and made some fast cash on site as a result – and that’s clearly not OK as far as how Tankwa Town operates. More, some suppliers and service providers have tended to bring default world thinking into Tankwa Town, and that kind of “service mentality” is clearly something that we don’t want to allow to flourish.

After all, service mentality and a sense of ‘I have the money, so I get what I want’ entitlement is what we’re all striving to get away from, in the dust. It’s the same mentality that’s seen large Plug & Play camps profit, from being to provide luxury in the desert (despite our clear guidelines to the contrary) – precisely because suppliers were able to come in under the radar and deliver hotel-grade services. More than this, it’s really important to us that our event doesn’t perpetuate the unfair labour practices that are a characteristic of South Africa as a whole. We’ve done what we can to prevent this, by introducing Supplier Guidelines last year – but it seems some folks  felt that profit was more important than the integrity of our culture. By regulating and registering suppliers – and making a R5000 refundable deposit a requirement of their operation –  we’re able to keep this end of things in check to a greater degree by being aware of who they are, and what they’re doing. It also enables our team to ensure suppliers attend briefings at which our event and culture are explained, so that suppliers are considerate of how things work in Tankwa Town.

So, to manage the influx of suppliers, we’ve developed a framework that’s fair on everyone involved. Here are the broad strokes: 

The Basics

If you need to outsource an essential technical service, or legislation requires technical sign off of something, you’re likely going to need to use professional suppliers. We get that, and that’s cool. But if you just want to outsource the hard yards of physical labour to someone else, well hell, maybe you’re in the wrong place. We are all invited to play at AfrikaBurn, and we are all expected to work … and that starts with your home for the week. To put it simply: essential services are OK to outsource, but hiring labour to service your camp needs (like chefs, bar staff, setup crew, etc) is not.


This process has been developed to support, regulate, and streamline the work of all suppliers permitted to supply equipment and services to participants at AfrikaBurn. Registering your supplier is the first step towards helping them get their Supplier Credentials and tickets and allows them permission to access the event. This process is to ensure that they understand and respect AfrikaBurn’s core principles and how this affects their service delivery in Tankwa Town, and to better facilitate the safety and experience of you, our community of participants.

As our community values self-reliance and communal effort, we will no longer allow turnkey services. This means that you and your camp crew must be present when your supplier delivers their product or service, as you’ll need to set up and install infrastructure yourself or, where it is a legal requirement that the supplier signs off the installation, assist them in the installation. Specifically, you must have one of your camp mates or project team present when your supplier arrives, and at least four people from your group on hand to assist, support or help your supplier.

Not all suppliers can be assured of getting permission to access the event site. Only those who sign an agreement with AfrikaBurn acknowledging the guiding principles and the supplier guidelines they underpin will be able to get their Supplier Credentials and Tickets.

Supplier Depot

As you arrive at the gate, take note of where the Supplier Depot is – if you have a delivery of water, tents, wood or other camp infrastructure, this is where you’d need to meet the supplier to escort them to your camp location. It’s advisable to set up the date and a specific window of time in which you expect to meet at the Depot. Plan ahead – and plan well, because we all know that the road can cause delays, and that things go sideways in the desert due to a number of reasons.


Your supplier will not be allowed to access the Event site without one of your camp mates present with them. The supplier will remain at the Supplier Depot, awaiting your arrival. There will always be a representative from the company which will remain at the Supplier Depot to arrange a time to meet, in the instance that their team are already onsite assisting another camp site. You must have one of your camp mates or project team present when your supplier builds, and at least four people from your group on hand to assist, support or help your supplier. All Theme Camps are required to have completed set up by Monday, 23 April 2018 so all deliveries of infrastructure and supplies should be arranged to take place by or before this date. The Tankwa Camp Site Managers will enforce these guidelines to ensure that the AfrikaBurn’s core principles are respected by the Suppliers, as well as campers.


Once you’ve packed up your camp and have completed your MOOP Swoop, your supplier can then strike (i.e take down) the gear that was provided. You must have one of your camp mates or project team members present when your supplier strikes, and at least four people from your group on hand to assist, support or help your supplier. Your campsite can’t be abandoned before your supplier has completed their strike and they have been signed off by the Camp Site Manager. Why? Because this is how tents, generators and other gear goes missing – and if it does, you’lll have to pay for it (which will be an unwelcome surprise after you’re home and washed and settling into a much-needed post-dust chill).

Suppliers to Register:

All companies which are delivering anything to your camp site or project, such as – water, tents, wood, power, toilets, other camp infrastructure or transport to and from AfrikaBurn. These can include:

  • Tent Companies
  • Toilet Companies
  • Overlander Trucks & Transport Co’s
  • Power Companies
  • Transport & Logistics Companies
  • Anyone which will supply goods or services (excluding paid labour such as chefs, bar staff, cleaning staff etc – none of which are permitted in any form)


If you’ve got any queries about this process, feel free to mail suppliers@afrikaburn.com

If you’re registering a large camp of project, you’d be able to register your suppliers on your project registration form. Our team will then contact them, and take them through the process.