March 29, 2012 12:00 AM
For four years now, German, French, Italian or Portuguese, these groups for decades on the black continent, are facing fierce competition on the part of businesses to name GSC, Covec or CBSCS. Their major weapon Unbeatable price that allows the use of massive labour very cheap, imported from China and live often in precarious conditions the time of the achievement of the worksite. The price that particularly appreciates the World Bank when it funder of a large project in Africa. "On a call for tenders for a very classical construction, the Chinese are often less-lowest 25 on the West", was recently HervÃ© Ronot, Deputy Director General of Sogea-Satom the African subsidiary of the French Vinci, world leader in the MGB the visit of a road construction of 202 km north of Mali, between Gao and the town of Ansongo, on the border with Niger. Broken prices record has even recently reached in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Sogea-Satom gave a quote... 176 higher than the Chinese winner!
Element of a coherent strategy of conquest of Africa, that password also by access to raw materials and the installation of a diaspora the number of Chinese construction workers remain in place once construction completed to open a small business , this offensive of the Middle Kingdom comes at the best time for its businesses: for two years now, Africa offers high growth rates to the contractors of the construction. It is sufficient to be convinced to measure sales of cement of the French Lafarge in sub-Saharan Africa. In Nigeria, in South Africa, the Kenya, in Cameroon, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania, the leader of construction materials is conducted last year a turnover of 1.5 billion euros, an increase of 18.4 compared to 2005, is a growth of 8 in volume in the domestic markets.
Second key to Chinese success: its construction groups landed on land of which some were voluntarily left abandoned by the West. A choice which may seem paradoxical today in view of the revival of Africa, but fully assumed this decade by the BTP Vinci, Bouygues and Eiffage French majors, that have favoured the development in other regions, Europe in the first place. Through four subsidiaries, Vinci completed year last in Africa that a turnover of 607 million (at 60 in the road), while an increase of 11 over 2005 growth achievements of infrastructure on the continent, but that represents only 2 of its activity. The share of Africa in the activity of the road company or Eiffage Colas (Bouygues group) is of the same order, consequence of a confidence in countries marked by activity sawtooth for large sites once a road built, there was more money to maintain it, and where the volume of small business is too small to justify the maintenance of a local team until a new contract. Which can take years.
For a decade, Eiffage or Colas have made a logical consequence. To the South of the Sahara, they folded on a small handful of countries (Senegal and Nigeria for the first, Madagascar, Gabon and Benin for the second) that can provide them with a roughly regular activity. What requires to be multimÃ©tier to capture a customer private next to large tenders. Madagascar, for example, Colas performs all the work of building and public works, not only roads.
While applying the same strategy and without shut out a withdrawal from an area where the situation has become too desperate, Vinci has, for its part, opted for the maintenance of a more massive presence. Its subsidiary Sogea-Satom retains a presence in 21 countries with 10,000 employees, including 400 executives (half African, half expatriate) over 80 ongoing projects. To succeed, this choice requires a particular organization. Unlike the other subsidiaries of Vinci who rent their equipment, Sogea-Satom is owner of a fleet of 8,000 machines, an investment in replacement value more of EUR 400 million. How to use the best "Since five years, this material is more divided country, but systematically hosting", says SÃ©bastien Morant, President of Vinci Construction subsidiaries international. The purpose is to allocate the park based on the status of sites sometimes very distant. This assumes a sharp logistics: it took for example two months to transfer since Chad of materiel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Similarly are "shared" some collaborators: the site Malian Gao-Ansongo work Beninese, Cameroonians and Senegalese.
Beyond this pooling, Vinci has chosen to defend its African square pre against the Chinese applying little or less the same revenue and Europe: standards for security and Western environment, use recent equipment guarantee of productivity (100 million euros invested these past two years), rise in power of the local framework. "Ultimately, hope the Director of human relations Pierre Coppey, our approach will be more pay than if we leave we lead in the deflationary spiral. He wants proof the rise of public opinion in some African countries against the Chinese companies which works or housing turnkey without using local labour.