Mar. 2, 2016

Paulo A. David


Paulo A. David

Managing Director, ABB

"Mozambique is an extremely important market with huge potential in the mining and oil and gas sector."


Paulo A. David was born in Mozambique but studied in South Africa. He is a Civil Engineer and holds an MBA from Henley Business School at Brunell University. He has been with ABB for more than 25 years and has extensive experience in emerging economy environments. During his time with the Transmission and Distribution division he managed several multi-million dollar projects in South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, Mauritius, as well as the Namibia interconnector and the Grue-Cuambe-Lichinga Transmission line in Mozambique.

Could you give a short overview of ABB's operation in the region?

ABB is a multinational with a presence in over 100 countries. ABB is one of the worlds leading power and automation companies, structured into four divisions: Electrification Products, Discrete Automation & Motion, Process Automation, and Power Grids, each with several business units and some 300 factories globally. This model is then repeated in each country. In addition, the way that ABB is structured in the Southern Africa region is based on a hub and spoke business model. The hub is in South Africa, and from there we have what we call “spokes," meaning the countries surrounding it in the SADC region, including Namibia, Angola, the DRC, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. ABB has approximately key 1800 employees in the Southern African region.

What is the significance of Mozambique for the overall ABB strategy in the SADC region?

Mozambique is an extremely important market with huge potential in the mining and oil and gas sector, as well as in various other industries such as cement, F&B, sugar, aluminium, and several other industries. Mozambique is well positioned to take advantage of its roads and rail and potential power development to supply the rest of Africa's land-locked countries. One of ABB's key growth areas is in supporting the development of the energy sector, where we have both the expertise and solutions in both power and automation. Last November our global CEO, Ulrich Spiesshofer, visited Mozambique for the first time to reinforce the importance of Africa within ABB. As one of the legs of our strategy, we have a 1,000-day African program that was put together as an incentive to develop the African market. Every CEO has a legacy that he leaves behind. The previous CEO targeted the US market to build up our presence there. Our current CEO, in his next level strategy, has decided that one of his key objectives will be Africa. We started the program about a year ago, and since then the CEO has visited Egypt, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Zambia in his first wave, while he plans to visit a few more African countries in 2016. At present, the contribution of Southern Africa to ABB Global results is only around 2 to 3% of the overall revenue. We want to raise that figure. Together, we are targeting and promoting Africa actively, and have had some wins while investing and developing our strategy.

What human resources requirements do you have in Mozambique?

When we opened here in 2012 the idea was to have a sales office, and we have been expanding this over time. We have been developing local engineering talent and training them in our regional office. Here at the main office we have seven key people and approximately another 25 in Tete. Most of our Talent pool is from Mozambique, but they have received training from abroad as well. For example, we have two engineers that are employed here who were trained in South Africa for almost a year and then sent up to the project in the north of Mozambique.

Can you tell us about your involvement in the Songo Project?

The Songo project was for ABB to deliver install, manufacture, and commission for HCB three convertor transformers and two air-cored reactors as well as a DC measuring system. While this may sound like a simple task for ABB as a leader in HVDC, there were other logistical factors to consider. The weight of each transformer was over 150 tons, which meant special planning in route selection due to the capacity of bridges to carry these loads was a key factor. In this case it took around four months of road travel time just to get them to the destination. They came from our Swedish factory and were offloaded in Durban because of the sheer weight of the transformers, which are about 150 tons dry weight and approximately 250 tons each when filled with oil. Only the Durban harbor is geared to handle this kind of logistics and has the crane capacity. They were moved all the way to Songo and installed and commissioned in the middle of 2015. Logistics in Mozambique can be complicated, especially in the northern region.

What sets ABB apart from its competitors?

There are several factors that set us apart from our competitors. Health, safety, and security are the number one consideration for us, and we make sure that we do all of this 100% correctly. ABB has zero tolerance for corruption We never pay bribes or encourage corrupt activity. In Mozambique we have a large installed base and we have ABB equipment installed in around 70% of Mozambique's substations. This, together with our regional footprint, allows us to be active in the market and retain a high level of skill to tackle work at various levels.