Atlas Copco’s World Class Equipment Sold & Serviced in Ghana & West Africa for Almost 20 Years
With a 138 year history, 30,000 employees globally and products and services reaching at least 170 countries, Atlas Copco is a familiar brand. With world-class positions in compressed air and gas equipment, generators, construction and mining equipment, industrial tools and assembly systems they are well known for quality equipment across many sectors.
But not every big company is present or succeeds in every market or region of the world. Atlas Copco has, however, made a strong impression in West Africa through their regional head office in Ghana and nearly two decades in the country. They have a history of serving Chinese construction companies in West Africa and hope to serve the increasing number of Chinese mining companies.
As is true anywhere, quality mining equipment is an important investment. But in West Africa, where logistics and remote areas make reliability and good service even more important, choosing the right equipment and service backed by the right company is a must.
Mr. George Apostolopoulos, Regional General Manager for West Africa, explains their strong position: “We have had a presence in Ghana since 1992, the main reason for establishingÂ at the time was to take care of the Obuasi mine which is 270 Km NW of Accra , which is the famous AngloGoldAshantiÂ underground gold mine.
We established there to serve the mine and we started expanding. Now we have a presence here in Accra, the Obuasi office is still our main service station and we have a big centralized warehouse in Tema just recently opened from the beginning of this year.
As you know Atlas Copco has the compressor side and the mining and construction side, but here we are about 90% mining. Construction definitely relates to infrastructure projects where funding is mainly coming from the government, but this side of the business has been slower. So mining is actually the booming side of the business for us.
Not because our construction business has not been successful, but I think it is just because mining has grown so fast. Recently the Ghanaian government is spending more money on infrastructure projects so we are present always, but mining is what people know Atlas Copco for here in Ghana, so far.
It is specifically because of gold mining. You know, during the crisis, in this part of the world we were not affected at all. We have kept growing for the last 6 or 7 years with double digit growth figures every year, and in only 2009, which was the crisis year for the rest of the world, we grew by 10% here in Ghana. Otherwise, we have been growing our business here by 20 to 25% every year.
I have to say that many people think, ‘there is something excellent going on in Ghana’, but I believe that the whole of West African mining is based on the gold price, it’s very wealthy and keeps going up.
At the end of the day we are very strong on the mining side, especially with the after-market services. So, we focus here on both underground and surface mining. We keep stock of almost 10 million USD in spare parts and consumables to serve the mining community and mining business. We have a very strong presence in Obuasi when it comes to servicing equipment.”
Mr. Apostolopoulos goes on to detail the full range of the services in Ghana:
“We deal with every mining product, even on the compressor side, which is a much smaller part of our business comparatively; we serve the industry completely and with full service. This office is covering all Atlas Copco products. And I would say it is a very state of the art offer. Especially when you consider that you are in Ghana, because it is not a very developed country, but it is a developing country and we think that the services we offer here are world-class and great to find for our clients.
But companies in Ghana have always demanded quality. Of course, many of the companies here doing the actual mining are foreign companies, a lot of Australians; I would say they are the majority. And then you have the American and Canadian companies, British and South Africans, so all these companies they usually go for quality and they wouldn’t use cheap products and that has always been helpful for our business. But even the locals do too. Even if you go to a very small quarry, they still demand our products and seek out the best.”
Mr. Apostolopoulos continues with detail about Atlas Copco’s reach across West Africa:
“We have an office in Bamako the capital of Mali that will serve the mining industry but focused on the French-speaking West African countries, which is quite a few as there are 14-15 of them. We have an office in Senegal, which is also taking care of the French-speaking countries, but on the construction side. So we have split French-speaking Africa in between mining and construction. And we also have an office in Abuja, Nigeria which handles everything for that country. All the offices report to Ghana which is the head office for West Africa and covers the whole region. We have a plan to open an office in Douala, Cameroon later this year to take care of the 6 main Central African countries, which are French-speaking also.
We decided to split construction and mining in West Africa between the two offices for better accessibility and servicing. They are really two different businesses: the construction compared to the mining side are completely different. Different clients, different rationale, different approach to the clients, different equipment.”
Mr. Apostolopoulos discusses their service to Chinese clients in Ghana:
“We serve several Chinese companies here on the construction side of our business; they are building many roads here. Of course we are aware of Ghana’s 13 billion USD deal with the Chinese government last September, where 3 billion is for the oil and gas industry and 9 billion is for infrastructural projects. The famous Bui Dam here in Ghana is being built by Chinese, and we sold to them there. The Chinese companies buy many spare parts from our central warehouse in Tema.
Chinese companies should consider Atlas Copco in Ghana and West Africa because to find the kind of expertise they can get at home, they can equally get it here. Our organization is strongly geared towards mining, we have experience here over 19 years, so we have a lot of expertise and they can get the support they want, because basically that is the most important. In mining equipment, service is more important than anything else and it is the after-market that companies always consider when selecting an equipment supplier and we are doing well there without a doubt.