Hicham Aziz,
Country Manager, Senegal,
Saudequip (Ja Delmas)
"Mining companies have handled the crisis very well, with gold producers ramping up production to take advantage of the bull market."

Could you start by briefly introducing yourself and your experience before taking the role of country manager at Saudequip this September?

Before becoming country manager in Senegal, I had a similar role in Togo, and I also worked as a regional manager for Ja Delmas, with responsibilities over 11 territories. Overall, I have accumulated 18 years of working for a Caterpillar dealer, and at the new position, my very first priority is customer satisfaction. Based on our monthly surveys in Senegal, the customer satisfaction rate is at 60% among all clients, including mining, construction, services, and power. A second priority is to increase our market share in Senegal: although we are market leaders with an average of 35% of the market over the last five years, I would like to drive Saudequip’s presence not only as an equipment supplier but also as a service provider.

How has the business managed to overcome disruptions and the economic downturn caused by the pandemic?

In response to the pandemic, Saudequip has designated a C19 committee to look at the company’s continuity plan. A crucial step was to increase our inventory of parts by a value of 1 million euros, as a preventive measure for logistics issues. Our activities did not stop, our staff respects social distancing, and our technicians’ workspaces were moved in an outdoor dedicated space. Moreover, we prioritized and increased capacities for sea shipments, as the air freight industry was more affected. We also experienced the impact felt by our clients, especially in the construction sector, where infrastructure projects have been delayed as the state budget is redirected to social expenses. Nevertheless, mining companies have handled the crisis very well, with gold producers ramping up production to take advantage of the bull market. Saudequip is now able to provide financing solutions to customers through CAT finance, helping clients to stay competitive.

Could you tell us about the current and upcoming investments Saudequip is making in the country?

Last year, we inaugurated a new base for Saudequip in Senegal; a center of excellence 100% compliant with international norms. This is a 10 million euros investment comprising new facilities, workshop spaces, warehouse, spanning across an area of four ha. From here, we will coordinate our logistics, services, and conditioned monitoring of equipment through a macro control tower. In addition, at the end of this month, we will also commence construction for the first component rebuild center (CRC) in the country, to be finalized by the end of 2021. This investment amounts to another 9 million euros, and it is designed purely for the support of our customers who will benefit from much faster service. The CRC will enable us to rebuild engines of up to 10,000 kw for large machinery, specific to the mining industry. Finally, we are constantly investing in our people; training our technicians on the latest uses of diagnosis of electronic components and empowering them to be ahead of the market.

What strides has Saudequip made in terms of digitalization and innovative solutions?

One of our key differentiating points in the market is our incessant focus on innovation and digitalization. Firstly, we use telematics systems through which we receive data on the position of the machines and consumption patterns, and any technical issues are signaled back to us so we can proactively address them. Moreover, our digital platforms enable customers to easily order equipment and connect with us immediately through our parts.cat.com. Most recently, we are working on a cutting-edge project with Caterpillar to deliver drones for the urgent delivery of small parts of up to 10 kg to remote destinations.

What are the main objectives moving forward, and your final message for our audience?

Mining clients are incredibly demanding when it comes to supporting services and the availability of parts because they usually stick to daily targets that they cannot compromise. Additionally, some clients will also have targets for machinery availability to be at 85%, so it becomes imperative for us to be able to supply parts, services and technicians on-site in the shortest time. Everything we do starts with our clients, while the safety and efficiency of our equipment is our top preoccupation. As a final message, I would like to say that we have all the confidence in Senegal and mining is becoming an important pillar within Plan Senegal Emergent (PSE). Saudequip and Ja Delmas will continue to invest in the country, in our assets and in our people.