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Ghana 2018 | INDUSTRY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mark Douglas, Country Manager of Dizengoff Ghana, on meeting the challenges of a changing landscape, establishing the ideal partnership, and developing local talent.

 Mark Douglas
BIOGRAPHY
Before his current position, Mark Douglas was the Sales Director of G4S Secure Solutions for South Africa and Lesotho. He brings to Dizengoff over 15 years of experience in business development. He holds degrees in business administration from the Wits Business School and logistics, materials, and supply chain management from the University of South Africa.

What are your priorities for Dizengoff Ghana?

One of our top priorities is to put Dizengoff back on the business map. Our key focus is to ensure that we are visible in the marketplace and that people are aware of what Dizengoff offers. We are not just a product-based business but also a solution-based one. We are constantly looking at new innovative products that would be suitable for the Ghanaian market. The business landscape has changed considerably. There is substantial competition in the market place, and many products similar to ours have been imported into Ghana from the east at a competitive price point but with varying degrees of efficacy. Dizengoff decided to take a different stance, entering the market with quality, long-lasting, and effective products. We also have a diversified portfolio: in our electromechanical division, we are revitalizing our product set and introducing a wider range. Our ICT portfolio has mainly centered on the Motorola product set, and we also have more homeland security products around this division that we will be driving forward.

What does Dizengoff look for in a partner?

In partnership, there must be exclusivity in Ghana, as the market is not large enough to have multiple suppliers of the same goods. We look for partners that strive for innovation in order to move business forward. Since our partnership requires us to constantly engage with customers, communicate with staff, and network with larger groups to find out what is needed, we would provide our partner with market feedback. In this way, we can adapt the product set of the supplier to the marketplace. Our business centers around how we can maintain, service, and continue to grow the product locally. We have been investigating partnerships in South Africa because of the low lead and shipping times. We also wish to drive partnerships in North and South America forward. It is important to deal with countries that are able to offer us products of high quality with better supply times.

What is Dizengoff's commitment to grow local capacity?

At one stage, we had as many as 10 expats in the company; now, we have only four because we developed local expertise to replace them. Developing local capability is a core activity within our group, not just within Ghana. Our EMD division is currently successfully run by a Ghanaian, which has been a hugely positive step for us. We have been in business for over 60 years in Ghana and have learned the importance of running a locally supportive and maintained business.

How do you expect demand for your products to evolve, and how will you adjust?

We strive to listen to our customers and make constant adjustments. Within our ICT division, we are investigating security products such as intruder detection. For corporate ICT, we are looking into CCTV and all the physical security products. We also have a cybersecurity division that many multinational companies and banks would benefit from enormously, in addition to a building maintenance program centered on construction. Within our communications division, Motorola has been our key focus; however, we also supply the hardware and software for fiber, and customers can now monitor and throttle their input for data. We are moving quite steadily ahead with regards to Tigo, MTN, and Vodafone. Our agri-division offers turnkey solutions for everything from mechanized farming to seeds and fertilizers. We were the first business to introduce greenhouses into the market five years ago and significantly revised our product to cater for the heat in Ghana.

Where do you hope to gain a stronger foothold or expand into?

The northern region at the moment is untapped because of logistical issues. We have also concentrated on supporting neighboring countries, despite linguistic and logistic challenges. We plan to supply distributors within Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin, as they are all growing markets. Eventually, we will need to set up our own satellite offices within those countries.