RAMIA CHIDIAC

Nigeria 2020 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ramia Chidiac, CEO of Ranjy Construction & Foundation Ltd, on operations, logistics, and the Lagos Sky tower project.

What businesses and operations fall under Ranjy Construction and Foundation and what is the company's Unique Selling Point?

RCF was founded in 2014 to carry out specialized works like geotechnical investigations, piling foundations and construction. In Nigeria, this expertise is only available in one or two companies. However, the key business differentiator between RCF and its competitors is a high level of domain knowledge coupled with local expertise and world renowned consultants who assist and advise in optimizing project design thereby reducing costs of between 20-30% which is passed on to the client.

From which areas of business does RCF gain most of its demand?

RCF commenced operations as a geotechnical investigations and pile foundations service provider but has today diversified into constructing complex structures like Jetties with both Roll-On/Roll-off and Lift-on/Lift-off capabilities, which includes quaysides and ramps capable to handle heavy project cargoes. The Jetty built by RCF, now called Dangote Quays Lekki, handled the world's heaviest single piece of steel in the Refining business: a 3,000 MTs single piece including its stool weight. In maintaining its long term vision of nurturing Nigerian companies, the President/CEO of the Dangote group Alhaji Aliko Dangote provided an opportunity to M/s. RCF to carry out, on a turnkey basis the design and construction of the RORO/ LOLO Jetty with a very high permissible load density on the structure so that some of the world's heaviest project cargoes for the Group's refining complex could be brought through this gateway. This was necessitated due to the absence of any such infrastructure elsewhere in Nigeria where the cargoes could be landed. When Dangote realized that this Jetty was inadequate to handle their cargo volumes and to further reduce their ship waiting time, thereby reducing demurrage costs, the management at the Dangote group once again invited RCF to construct and expand the current infrastructure by currently building a quay wall to handle additional two ships. This is a reflection of the trust and faith that the Dangote group has reposed in the management of RCF to deliver high quality port based infrastructure. We are once again thankful for their trust and faith in us, which has helped us catapult into an organization associated with building world class port-based infrastructure. Apart from above, RCF also executes design and construction of commercial and residential complexes with all the best-in-class amenities and a keen focus on maintaining high standards of quality.

What major projects has RCF completed so far?

RCF has built a 138m RORO/ LOLO Jetty for Dangote Oil Refinery. It is currently handling project cargoes and will later be used as a support base for auxiliary crafts and support vessels. Currently RCF is building the second Jetty for Dangote under the expansion program of which 50% has been completed and handed over to the client for commissioning trials. This Jetty, upon completion will be 440m long and will handle Supermax vessels for product offtakes and raw material imports. In addition, RCF is working on the prestigious Lagos Sky tower project. It is a high-end residential project expected to increase the construction standard in Nigeria. RCF aims to use the best-in-class quality materials and provide value added services including full-fledged automation, communication using fiber-optics, a rooftop swimming pool with a large lounge area, conference rooms, dining areas, a movie theatre, an adequately well-equipped gym and an open religious space.

How do you envision the sectors in which you operate in within the next 10 years?

Nigeria has a lot of potential for growth. The industrial sector is under-developed, and the economy is heavily dependent on importation. In this regard, the port sector represents an attractive opportunity to upscale the infrastructure by providing a boost to the Nigerian economy and by generating qualified employment opportunities for the Nigerian youth. The West African coastline, of about 4000 miles, extending from Mauritania to Cameroon, has a limited number of ports. The West African countries are being developed, and the population is growing. Therefore, Trade volume is increasing as well. As trade flourishes, we expect more ports to be developed or existing ones to be upgraded, since waterways have always been a primal mode of transportation. The above presents an exciting business opportunity to RCF group to hive on its strengths and provide viable cost-effective port-based infrastructures. In Nigeria many mega infrastructure projects are being planned which showcase a huge upside growth potential for our construction business.

What are RCF's plans and key priorities for 2020?

Our main focus is on real estate and infrastructure. At RCF, we believe construction and infrastructure are key drivers to boost the country's economy. We have long term objectives and strategy. We work actively on pursuing while focusing on our human capital. The last two years have been difficult on the global economy, but we have managed to overcome that with a reasonably full order book. We are hopeful that we will be in a better position next year and the following years. We are seeing a lot of progress. Our main target is to complete the two jetties for M/s. Dangote. This project is of national importance to Nigeria as the completion of the refinery will attract more foreign direct investment. This integrated petroleum and petrochemical complex will play a vital role in helping to reverse Nigeria's reliance on fuel imports and meet domestic demand by catapulting Nigeria from a fuel importer to a fuel exporter. And finally, we hope to complete the Lagos Sky tower project.