Exclusive interview with Petrisor Grindeanu, General Manager of Sika Abyssinia PLC (Ethiopia) & Sika Djibouti FZE

Petrisor Grindeanu is the General Manager of Sika Abyssinia PLC (Ethiopia) & Sika Djibouti FZE. He is a Professional with more than 15 years’ experience in the construction industry. He has proven ability to create and lead successful teams and programs in order to grow businesses, penetrate new market sectors and outperform competition. With comprehensive skills in management, business operations, market strategy and organizational issues, he has excellent communication, presentation and interpersonal skills and has also successful multicultural work experience.

  1. How does Sika see the African construction materials market?

Sika has been present in Africa since 1947; we have 19 companies on the African continent with 19 production facilities, and more than 700 employees. Sika is the first company to manufacture locally in many African countries and offers tailor made solutions to customer needs, along with technical and onsite support.

Regarding construction materials market in Africa, I can refer only to the markets in Ethiopia and Djibouti where I am the General Manager. In the case of Ethiopia, in 2014 Euro monitor International identified Ethiopia as one of the 20 market of the future that will offer the most opportunities for consumer goods companies globally. The construction sector grew by 23.7% in 2014 and is expected to grow by two digits annually. Regarding the construction material market in Ethiopia, I can say that most of the products that can be found on the market are low quality. This is the reason that we strongly believe that Sika’s products will be very appreciated.

Regarding Djibouti, there are a lot of projects for expanding the port, but also residential projects, so we consider that the construction material market has great potential.

  1. What are some of the products that you are offering the Ethiopian market?

Sika Abyssinia produces locally a full range of Admixture products like accelerator, retarder, water reducer, plasticizer, superplasticizer and waterproofing. It also produces a full range of silicones and epoxy flooring systems.

We are also planning to expand production with other product ranges. In fact, more products will be launched at the beginning of next year, like roofing liquid applied membranes, hydrophobics, waterproofing mortars, tile adhesives, grouts and dry shakes.

  1. What sparked the decision to venture into the Ethiopian market?

We choose Ethiopia for the expansion of Sika AG because it has a huge potential. It is the 2nd most-populous country in Africa with 102 million and an annual growth rate of 2.5% in 2016. Now, it has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world for the past decade, averaging 10.8% per year to 2014/15. Ethiopia’s market is mostly characterized by consumer market. Also, like I said before, in 2014 Euro monitor International identified Ethiopia as one of the 20 market of the future that will offer the most opportunities for consumer goods companies globally.

As I said, we think the whole construction market have a big potential. So, our products are designed for all kind of projects: residential, commercial, industry, infrastructure and so on.

  1. What unique aspects does Sika bring into the market to ensure they have that competitive edge?

Through this investment, first of all, we provide jobs for local people; even we speak about specialists or factory workers, with no specialization. On the other hand, Sika wants to offer to the local market access to quality products, that are produced locally and that are perfectly adapted to the local needs, using as much as local raw materials.

The knowledge that we have is the most important thing that we offer to the local market, from the project phase, to the implementation and also to the operation phase. More than this, we can offer solutions that provide cost reduction.  We have quality products and very important, we adapt our products to the local market. We have a laboratory here and we can test our products and be sure that they are suitable for the local needs.

We are working with local employees here while offering them trainings done by our specialists from other Sika companies. More than this, we support our employees to go for trainings abroad, mainly in Europe.  Also, our local employees do transfer their knowhow to the clients and partners.

  1. What role can Sika as a big player in Africa’s construction industry take part in to ensure quality infrastructural development in Africa?

The most important role that we play is that we can offer to our client’s products that are suitable for their projects. Beside the production facility, as I said, Sika has invested in Ethiopia in a R&D laboratory and training facility. Those facilities were established both for our employees and also to support all our clients (direct or indirect ones). We can test in our laboratory all the products that we deliver in an infrastructure project and we can be sure that they can solve the challenges of the project.

Sika is a pioneer and, for sure, all the other international players will come on the local market. This means competition, progress and increase of the quality.

  1. What are Sika’s plans for this particular market and Africa as a whole?

We will keep investing in the Ethiopian market. So, next year we will start the production of mortars and other ranges of products, like roofing liquid applied membranes, hydrophobics, waterproofing mortars, tile adhesives, grouts and dry shakes and of course, once we will reach the full production capacity, we plan to expand with a new facility.

Also, regarding Africa, Sika is taking into consideration a continued expansion.

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