Francois Bigara, Managing Director, Kanu Equipment Côte d’Ivoire

MACIG Connect Series

Kanu Equipment has been well received in Côte d’Ivoire and has quickly won clients in the mining and construction sectors for its products and services.

Could you give us an overview of Kanu’s operations in Côte d’Ivoire and the way your presence here has developed?

Kanu Equipment began operations in Côte d’Ivoire just over two years ago. At first it was a very small operation. Thankfully, my personal previous knowledge and experience of the country allowed us to penetrate the market for importing high-quality earthmoving and construction equipment. Côte d’Ivoire showed immense potential under the control of the new President, and it really began to open itself up to new investors. We then had to build our business from the ground up, and during these early days, our policy of employing French speakers was also a massive help. An initial positive sign was the warm welcome we received from various national political figures including the President himself. Within ten days of our setting up our offices, we had all of the papers that we needed to begin business in the Côte d’Ivoire. This welcome was a truly fantastic beginning to our operations in the country and still warms my heart.

There are many tax incentives for business operations in the Côte d’Ivoire; however, if we look at things from a more practical perspective, would you say that operations run as smoothly as marketed?

Definitely.

What factors were the greatest indicators of Cote d’Ivoire’s potential?

Road construction was a rapidly growing market, and we researched files detailing the government’s development plans for the country as well as a list of investors who were greatly interested in solidifying a presence here. By 2019, the government aims to have built around 7000km of new, modern roadways. This development has already begun and new investors are increasingly present. However, a great deal of infrastructure has yet to be completed, which is why we believe that our product will be crucial to the development process of the Côte d’Ivoire in partnership with foreign investors.

Supplying big name brands including Bell, Liebherr and Case, do you consider your company’s focus to be shifting towards mining as opposed to construction?

Our first ever customer for our machinery was a mine. The fact that we were a representative of quality and renowned machinery was very attractive to them, and with the increase in investment in gold mining we hope that it contributes to a larger proportion of sales in the years to come.

For our overall operations, it was initially challenging to find qualified personnel for all of our different operations here in Côte d’Ivoire; however, it is becoming less and less of a challenge as our name becomes better known and more respected in West Africa. This means we are attracting applications from a high caliber of experts. As the managing director, this is a very rewarding feat, as it means that we are gaining a reputation for quality of service, as well as respect, and becoming acquainted with the right people in the area.

We are bringing in new machines from Finlay, Bell, Liebherr and Case currently.

Kanu Equipment Côte d’Ivoire also has several strategic partnerships to cover a full range of replacement spare parts for earthmoving machinery.

Is security a grave concern in Côte d’Ivoire?

By fitting all of our machines with a GPS device, as well as a meter that records how long the machine works for, we have avoided numerous problems such as our machines and operators working in dangerous or environmentally hazardous territory. This is because we can see exactly where they are, and then keenly assess any potential risks to either our machinery or our personnel.

With Kanu’s expanding business and move to a larger office, what are your short term growth plans?

Kanu Cote d’Ivoire is becoming the company’s biggest operational branch in West Africa, and by 2020 our goal is to be registered on a European Stock Market. In 2015, we won an award for the best company providing machinery rental services, as well as Liebherr’s award for the best company renting out their machinery. This year we won an award for the best machinery dealer. We are fully committed to maintaining our high reputation for after-sales service and maintenance—more than three quarters of our staff in Côte d’Ivoire are technicians.

Currently, West Africa ignites a strong desire to invest in agriculture—with holdings of products like sugar cane, cotton or bananas—but mining is growing rapidly. These companies will choose Kanu Equipment because they have already seen the quality of our work in other industries. The fact that we have loyal, dedicated customers who have been with us for years proves that we provide a high quality, affordable and reliable service.

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