CLEAR GOALS

Morocco 2020/21 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

CMM's strategy moving forward is to maintain its growth rate in Morocco and explore other countries in Africa, a region that represents up to 20% of its total turnover.

Issam El Jilani
BIOGRAPHY

Issam El Jilani is the General Manager of CMM. He earned a diploma in civil engineering from the Mohammadia Rabat School in 1998, before moving on to gain a higher diploma in project management from EHTP in 2012. He then worked as an engineer at ENBACHA and later became director of works at AUXITEC - Grand Stade de Tanger. He co-founded CMM in 2006 and established its first branch in Africa in 2010.

You were recently included on the Casablanca Stock Exchange's ELITE program. What pushed your company to be a part of it?
It is a choice that was made by the stock exchange. The program takes place over two years; the first year is about training the managers and the second is about focusing on a specific subject, such as strategy or governance. This, of course, depends on the type of company. We are in our first year and have undergone the technical training part. Once we have successfully completed the second phase, we look forward to exploring the different types of financing options that the stock exchange will present to us.

How has your experience so far been?
We have completed the first module, which we found really interesting. Notably, there was a set of companies that are about the same size as us. What is important is the exchange between all the managers. Overall, our experience was great; the framework, supervision, and training were all of the highest standards.

Do you have plans to expand into more markets?
At present, we are operating in five African countries. We have a real development strategy for the future of Africa. Since Morocco is our country of origin, we are present here and are developing our local activities and presence. One of our main targets is the health sector. We have carried out a few projects, including the first oncology center in Mauritania, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso, an emergency hospital in Mauritania, and a clinic in Abidjan. Recently, we had a turnkey contract including medical equipment for a hospital in Burkina Faso. It has been a fruitful experience so far, and we plan to develop it further. Africa represents between 15 and 20% of our total turnover. There are more opportunities in Africa than Morocco because the competition in Morocco is getting tough. With this in mind, we are targeting the African market for expansion. That said, we intend to continue our expansion in Morocco. Our turnover from the Moroccan market grows 20% every year on average.

What makes Morocco such a competitive market?
Morocco has developed significantly over the last 20 years. There are a few national companies that have become leaders, even international leaders. There was a time when Moroccan companies were not capable of building highways or dams, but at present they can handle any kind of project.

What has been the impact of digitalization on your business?
Digitalization has had an enormous impact on our business. CMM is leveraging digitalization to develop our internal programs and keep them up to date.

What impact has payment delays had on your operations?
Payment delays are a national nuisance. A company that is not paid on time cannot be expected to invest. We have found our way around this challenge because of our healthy cash flow, allowing us to continue to honor our commitments to suppliers and collaborators. Almost 80% of the dividends remain within the company. On a national level, the government is working with all stakeholders and relevant authorities to fight this problem. The laws were always there, but they were never enforced. Fortunately, the government is now applying penalties in the event of late payments.

How do you train your workforce?
We train our employees about new methods and techniques. For the technical team, we mainly hire fresh graduates and give them on-the-job training. One project manager can train two to three technicians at a time.

What are your strategic objectives for 2020?
Our primary goal is to maintain our growth and explore other countries in Africa. We have a number of projects in the pipeline. We also participate in calls for tenders. For example, we took part in an Afri Santé exhibition in Ivory Coast.