ON THE HIGH WIRE

Ghana 2016 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Kate Quartey-Papafio, CEO of Reroy Group, on developing infrastructure, ECOWAS exports, and plans for 2016.

Kate Quartey-Papafio
BIOGRAPHY
Kate Quartey–Papafio founded Reroy Cables Ltd in 1992 to distribute high quality electrical cables, and as of today, Reroy Cables represents the repositioning of one of the iconic brand names in Ghana’s cable manufacturing and aluminum application industry, which goes beyond its basic power cables business. As a major player in the production and supply of power cables, conductors, provision of electrical power distribution system, and strategic contract services to the electricity sector, its business is also linked to the electricity distribution and transmission business.

You started in 1992 and, since then, the company has become one of the key infrastructure players here. Was that the vision when you started?

We had a focus and determination about what we wanted to deliver and how we wanted to deliver it. Then we targeted the larger supply chain. We started with importing cables, and then began to export by bringing semi-finished products into the country, adding value, and then exporting. Now that we have power, we also produce the cables here. We then realized that our clients also needed electrical accessories such as transformers and switches. Ghana also has raw materials like aluminum and copper, which gives us the full supply chain. We are going to extend what we have into neighboring countries, as they have the same needs. For us to sustain the market, we must train our people in terms of technology and use that to generate efficiency. We need a technology transfer, just as is the case in other parts of the world. My motivation is the desire to see this happen, especially among women. We have to start planning now for the next 50 years, forecasting where Ghana will be so that we will be able to catch up with the other parts of the world.

What is the current manufacturing capacity here?

We recently installed new machinery, which doubled capacity. We now produce 12,000 metric tons of aluminum and 4,000 tons of copper. We have widened our scope, and now we need to improve on training to be more efficient, as we cannot afford wastage. We currently have about 250 employees.

Which of the raw materials that you use are sourced in Ghana?

We currently have all of the raw materials here, but we are of course going through a little challenge in terms of power. Once the energy supply is sustainable, we will be able to source aluminum locally. We have to import the majority of raw materials.

How did dumsor (load shedding) impact your operation?

It is something that has woken all of us up and is pushing us to become more efficient, because we are now considering installing solar panels to cut costs. It has shown us that there is no time to waste when implementing such efficiency-increasing initiatives. The power situation is getting better, but we cannot relax. We have to think about the near future and the increasing population, which we have to be able to support.

You already export to the ECOWAS region. Are you looking beyond that?

We are actually looking at exporting beyond ECOWAS, as the quality is virtually the same following our becoming ISO 9001:2008 qualified three years ago. Our product is of the same standard as anywhere in the world. We are looking at Europe, because here we have raw materials, the capacity to add value, and products that meet international standards. That of course means that we have to have the right level of technology to ensure that our systems meet the needs of our clients. I always encourage other industries to make the effort and earn certification, because it helps and motivates the company to improve their performance.

You also have cable operations in the marine sector to support the growing energy industry. How does your location allow you to tailor your services?

We have ports here, so it was a natural step to produce steel wire ropes for the ports, as we have to be responsive. The Tema dry-dock and shipyard needs this kind of equipment. We have to look at our surroundings and understand how we can enhance it. Tema harbor is expanding, as is the fiber-optic market. If all goes well, we want to go into the fiber optics by the end of next year. The world is moving on. We used to do telephone cables, but the demand for that is dwindling. If we are not catching up, then we will be left behind. We are looking for a partnership for this, because although we have the necessary capacity and local expertise, we have not done it before.

What are your expectations for 2016?

Our plan is to expand and add to what we are doing by more than 50%. We have to catch up now that the power situation has improved. The need for financing is high, but so are the local rates, so having a partner to support our development would help a lot.