MOROCCO: 50% RENEWABLES BY 2030

Morocco 2020 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Driss El Rhazi, CEO of SOGEA Maroc, on revenue streams, renewable energy goals, and expectations for 2020.

You have been part of some of the most important infrastructural projects in the country such as the Renault plant in Tangier, and Tangier and Kenitra's high-speed railway stations. How did your operations start in Morocco and how have your processes evolved since then?

Since its creation in 1931, SOGEA MAROC has contributed to the economic development of Morocco through the construction of several infrastructure projects. With almost a century-old history, our company has not only been able to enforce its position as a leader in its core business of hydraulics but has also diversified and extended its expertise in the fields of industrial civil engineering, structures, and building construction. After starting the business by manufacturing and laying pre-stressed concrete pipes for water supply, we extended the hydraulic business in 1988 to water and wastewater treatment plants. Today, we have about 40 stations built across all Moroccan cities. In 1997, our development grew through engineering structures with major projects for various Moroccan contractors, such as Autoroute du Maroc, the Ministry of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water, Bouregreg Valley Renewal Agency, and the Moroccan National Railways Office. Since 2001, we have continued with industrial civil engineering, realizing 90% of Morocco's cement plants and OCP Group's industrial projects.
In 2009, we extended our offers to the building construction field. We have managed operations such as the Renault plant in Tangier, the high-speed railway stations of Tangier and Kenitra, and the renovation of the historical building of Société Générale Maroc in Casablanca. Now, we continue our construction development line with large projects, such as the Palais Tazi Hotel in Tangier, the Royal Mansour in Casablanca, the Mohammed VI University of Benguerir, and Le Carrousel in Rabat. This multi-business strategy has enabled us to achieve an average growth of 10% per year over the last five years, to reach a turnover of approximately MAD1 billion (USD102.7 million) with more than 2,100 employees.

The construction sector has suffered a considerable slowdown since 2010; what is your opinion on the sector itself and how has this impacted your operations and revenue stream?

For about five years, the business climate in our sector has been tense, with an imbalance between supply and demand and the systematic awarding of bids to the lowest price. The global context of the sector and its tough competition have been an opportunity for SOGEA MAROC to showcase its know-how and expertise. Innovation is a fundamental axis on which SOGEA MAROC relies to maintain its position in the market. Our employees represent another competitive advantage. The mixing of cultures and professions has always been a source of pride for our company. That is why we are committed to supporting our employees and helping them to develop their skills throughout their professional career. Synergy with VINCI Group subsidiaries is also a major asset that allows us to differentiate ourselves by offering global and innovative solutions. Despite this tense environment, our strategy and organization have enabled us to achieve our objectives by continuing to perform and maintain our profitability.

Morocco is making huge efforts to become a more sustainable country, with the goal of supplying 50% of its energy with renewables by 2030; What are SOGEA MAROC's efforts in terms of sustainability?

Our vision of success has always been global and not limited to financial results. Our objective is to design and build structures for Morocco and Africa that are respectful of people and the planet. Because our projects are in the public interest, we have always favored involving all stakeholders —including partners, customers, suppliers, elected officials, local residents and civil society— in our projects as early as possible. Our objective is to ensure total transparency in our own practices and in those of our subcontractors. For SOGEA MAROC, civic engagement is a core value, as the development of our country is everyone's responsibility. We are committed to civic action at all levels, and our engagement was awarded by the CSR label of the Confédération Générale des Entreprises Du Maroc (CGEM). Our environmental policy is based on adopting eco-responsible behavior through the implementation of environmental analysis for each site in order to better control our environmental impact. We have implemented actions to improve our environmental footprint by calculating our carbon footprint, monitoring our consumption, increasing waste-sorting and recovery on construction sites, and managing hazardous waste in compliance with Moroccan regulations. Our objective is to reduce our carbon footprint by 15% by 2022.

What is in store for SOGEA MAROC in 2020?

Our objective is not only to continue our growth in all our businesses in Morocco but also to support our group and Moroccan investors in Africa, particularly through construction and hydraulic business on water treatment plants. In line with the Vinci Group, our strategy is oriented toward "global performance." We aim to develop several strategic levers focused on several points. We will promote our values and deepen them in our employees, while strengthening our robustness by improving our management from project design to execution. Operational excellence is another pillar of our strategy. We aim to be ahead of the new technologies such as BIM. Strengthening our position as a leader requires us to accelerate our development by seizing new opportunities where we can provide strong added value. Our expertise particularly in the construction of water treatment plants and in building construction can support our group in its future projects in Africa. We are looking at the future with great optimism. The evolution of the sector at the national and continental level are positives. Today, SOGEA MAROC is part of the dynamic of development of our country with a desire to support it in the major structural projects.