Lars Narfeldt , Director, RA International

RA International is seeking to bring its life support services to the African mining industry.

Please tell us about the history of RA International and its key competencies.

RA International was formed in 2003. At that time we began working in Afghanistan, where we provided support to the United Nations and the International military forces. Our key focus areas were in construction and power generation, shortly after we also moved on to include waste management and catering to our portfolio of services. We grew rapidly the first 12 months and by mid 2004, we had around 500 employees across Afghanistan. At that stage, we were also invited to enter South Sudan to set up a similar operation as we have in Afghanistan. From 2004 until 2010 we were predominantly active in Sudan and Afghanistan, but in 2010 we sold our assets in Afghanistan and decided to focus on Africa. By then we already had an established office in Kenya and had moved into Somalia. From then on, we continued to grow and we are now present in 14 countries in Africa.

What have been the main reasons behind your decision to expand into the mining industry in Africa?

Three years ago, we decided to diversify our business into more sustainable areas and away from post-conflict zones. We also pay more attention to facilities management projects across Africa. Moving towards mining industry was a logical step for us, as we already had all the requested services in our portfolio and had an extensive experience working in remote areas in Africa.

Mining is a rather conservative industry, and it can be tough for new players to enter the market. What is RA International’s strategy to establish its place in the industry?
We were fortunate to pick up a contract in northern Sudan with QMSD, where we have set up their operations, maintenance and life support. On the back of that, we are building our knowledge of the industry, as well as establishing our place in the mining sector. The knowledge and experience we have garnered through our years serving clients in the most difficult regions and situations in Africa has given us the advantage that will be invaluable for the mining industry clients we now pursue. On top of that, we are also participating in mining trade shows.
 

Are you looking to partner with EPCM contractors to strengthen your presence in the mining sector?
We are actively looking for EPCM partners could outsource facility management and life support to us, as this part of the service offering is often something contractors are not comfortable doing themselves. If they can find a trusted partner, there is certainly scope for extensive collaboration.
 

What are your key priorities that you are looking to achieve in the mining sector?

We have given ourselves three to five years to enter the mining market and establish our brand. We are now in talks with a companies operating in East Africa and we have come across numerous opportunities in Zambia and Burkina Faso. We are also making the necessary adjustments on human resources level, attracting new people, especially on the managerial level. We have a phenomenal HR team with a huge network, and they can help us to find local people, so that we can start working with the community quickly and I am bullish that we will start picking up some contracts soon.

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