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“Fierce Competition Pushes Companies To Do Better”

Abdeladim Arnous, General Manager, CIMAF Cameroon.

Why did you enter in the market at a time that competition is at its peak and what strategies have you put in place to succeed? At the moment CIMAF decided to invest in the cement sector, there was a monopoly situation and a good number of imported cement in the country. You know monopoly situation is not good but fierce compe- tition pushes people to do better. When we came into the market, we invested in a very strong technology with a sophisticated management that permitted us to have quality and irreproachable product, not to say the best in the market. From there, it gave us access to partners in the distribution chain. We worked very hard on the quality of our products as well as the quality of our services. I think people welco- med our introduction because they quickly understood that we offer quality cement in the market. With our different partners, we try to increase the share of the market we control. Who are your target customers? We have two types of clients: distributors (wholesalers), who are the majority and they are youth that started working with us and we accompanied them to grow. I’m proud to say the most successful distributor is someone who started with us and it is a success not only for him, but for us as well. We also look forward to developing other Cameroonian business gurus. The second category of customers we have are tech- nical customers who are into the construction of infrastruc- ture. They test the products in the laboratory before signing a contract with cement pro- ducers. I’m proud to say in all the construction sites our products have been used so far, all the tests carried out by experts were successful. The Kribi Deep Seaport for example was constructed with our products. Consumers assume that des- pite the presence of production companies in Cameroon, there is little or no impact on the prices. What is your take on that? There is instead a perception problem here. During the mo- nopoly period, there was just one product; CPJ 35. Present- ly, the market has shifted to a different product which is 42.5 and it makes it difficult to compare the prices of two different products. The pro- ducts do not have the same resistance and composition. But it has witnessed a reduction in prices during the last five years. Suppose prices did not change, 2.5 per cent inflation rate for the past ten years and the fact that we don’t take it into consideration is as good as price reduction. The increase in prices of some raw material and factors of production like electricity makes it difficult. We are really making efforts not to transfer such hikes to our customers. What ambition for the future? We have to step up production from 500, 000 tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes per year. The extension project will be in 18 months approximately the last quarter of 2018 and it will cost about 16 billion FCFA.

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