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Sacmi invests in Africa

Two new companies to become operative by autumn 2014, one in Morocco, the other in South Africa,

A dream and, at the same time, an opportunity: this is Africa, which is increasingly drawing the attention of large multinationals keen to make the most of this market’s enormous development potential while, at the same time, offering sound employment prospects and, therefore, improved living standards for the local populace.

This is, of course, also the case with Sacmi (already on the market for years with its own sales and technical assistance network) which has now set up two new companies: one based in Casablanca, Morocco, the other in Cape Town, South Africa, the richest, most industrialised nation on the continent. The first company, Sacmi North Africa, is a joint venture (with Sacmi as the majority shareholder) with a key local partner – one of Morocco’s biggest bottlers which also does business in the service and tele-communications sectors – while the second, named Sacmi South Africa, is a 100% Sacmi-owned enterprise.

What’s more, a key part of Sacmi’s project is the establishment of a branch in Nairobi, Kenya, to act as a reference ‘hub’ for the entire sub-Saharan area: “The new project – explains Sacmi Imola’s General Manager, Pietro Cassani – is directed at countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Angola and Ethiopia where machine and line sales involve the need to provide adequate after-sales service”. Moreover, continues Cassani, “operating on such a culturally and politically complex market requires good, locally trained personnel with first-rate customer relations skills”, whether they be multinationals or local businesses. That’s why these new companies, which will become fully operative in autumn 2014, “will also be staffed by Group managers who already follow sales and technical matters in Africa, their mission being to train up local employees who can then handle all the present and future aspects of the business”.

It should, of course, be pointed out that Africa consists of no less than 54 nations with a multitude of political and socio-economic situations, with local languages and cultures that sometimes accompany, sometimes dominate the local administration and official languages. Africa can be deeply ambiguous, with areas of extreme poverty yet also unique natural beauty. Yet Africa also tops the list of the world’s fastest-growing economies and that’s why, for many years now, big-name multinationals such as Nestlè, SAB Miller, Coca Cola, Heineken, Kraft and Unilever – to name just a few – have been investing here.

And while North Africa, from Algeria to Egypt, from Tunisia to Morocco, has been (together, of course, with South Africa) a key area for Sacmi in the ceramics and packaging sectors for some time, it is in food and beverage that the most promising development prospects can be seen: “For several years”, recalls Sacmi Imola’s President, Paolo Mongardi, “Sacmi has been focussing considerable attention on Africa. This new project is part of a wider internationalisation and diversification policy that has been implemented by the Sacmi Group for a long time now, and it is a policy that has proved to be a winner”.

The African continent, then, in the words of Sacmi Imola’s President, represents “not just a hope but a certainty”. The certainty, in fact, that the investments which have been made constitute not just a market opportunity but also, and above all, “an opportunity for the development and wellbeing of a young population that is seeking a chance to better its living standards”.

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