Lafarge South Africa, local subsidiary of the international Lafarge Group, recently hosted a panel forum with speakers from Lafarge businesses throughout Africa sharing insights on their markets and business dealings on the continent with local contractors.
“Lafarge is a well-established, experienced building materials producer on the African continent,” was the clear message to a gathering of 70 key South African construction and engineering industry leaders at the prestigious Lafarge in Africa breakfast seminar during July in Sandton.
Africa has now surpassed Asia in actual and potential economic growth with a collective gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2 trillion. This positive outlook has stimulated new interest in conducting business in Africa. It highlights opportunities for those looking to expand on the continent with the right skills and expertise and, importantly, with the right experienced partner.
The Lafarge Group’s successful long-view strategy of investing in emerging countries has contributed to its resilient global footprint. Lafarge South Africa’s country chief executive officer, (CEO) Thierry Legrand, briefly outlined the Lafarge Group and its achievements, including its presence in Africa since 1985, and how it has grown to 13 African countries, resulting in Lafarge being the continent’s leading cement producer.
“Although prospects for growth in the South African market in the foreseeable future are not as buoyant as we would like, there is huge opportunity in the African marketplace, and Lafarge South Africa has capacity available and the resources to take advantage of it,” he said.
“Lafarge believes in Africa and, with its established footprint on the continent, is in a good position to partner and share skills with construction companies wishing to expand into Africa.
“The Group demonstrated its belief in South Africa with its investment in 3,6-million tons per year of cement capacity, which is currently underutilised, resulting in us not utilising one of our kilns. As the demand escalates, we will be revisiting this situation.
“It is our aim to build on our established reputation for providing the construction industry with innovative products, solutions and services at the right price, taking into account the escalating increases in fuel and electricity.
“The country and construction industry will benefit greatly from the acceleration of the infrastructure programme. The government and private companies working together can facilitate this, creating a great deal of much-needed employment,” Legrand said.
The panel discussion was chaired by Lafarge’s Vice-president for sales and marketing for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, Ilsé Boshoff. She posed some interesting questions to the Lafarge speakers to mitigate the myths surrounding business in Africa, and illustrated how Lafarge is the ideal partner. The guests listened to informative presentations and had the opportunity to interact with the speakers.
The chief executive officer of Lafarge Kenya and Uganda, Hussein Mansi, spoke about the exciting prospects for these two countries. A team of senior speakers from Algeria – one of Lafarge’s top performing countries – described how they achieved their exceptional growth.
Particularly relevant for many of the guest executives was the chance to talk to the visiting chief executive officer of Lafarge WAPCO Nigeria, Joe Hudson, who shared insights into the Nigerian market and dispelled a few of the myths around the difficulties of doing business in this country.
An interesting perspective on operating in the Middle East was provided by Khaled Huraibat, Lafarge Jordan’s vice-president for commercial marketing and sales. Kaziwe Kaulule, cluster marketing director for South-East Africa (Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi), commented on the market in these countries and the implications of the future prospects for this region.
Legrand described Lafarge’s recent brand repositioning that addresses the huge global trend to urbanisation and the group’s signature theme of ”Building better cities”. He said Lafarge South Africa is in a unique position to contribute to building better cities and infrastructure through having a strong presence in all its construction-related business lines: cement, aggregates, ready-mix and plasterboard.
“We are committed to driving innovation and development in South Africa and the African continent, in an ever-increasingly welcome competitive market. We are well-positioned with our technical expertise and high safety standards to serve the market with our high-quality products and solutions,” Legrand concluded.
Country communications manager
Lafarge South Africa
011 657 1265