REFINED TASTES

Zambia 2017 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Olufemi Babajide, Managing Director of Total Zambia, on the country's growth potential, opportunities in aviation, and Zambia's economic potential.

Olufemi Babajide
BIOGRAPHY
Olufemi Babajide has been Managing Director & Total Group Representative in Zambia since 2016. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lublend Limited Zambia and a member of the Board of Trustees for Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Limited, Zambia. Babajide is a multi-disciplinary professional with almost two decades of varied experience in African markets, especially the downstream oil and gas sector, and has extensive knowledge of distribution network management, lubricants, and aviation. He has worked for Total in the UK, Nigeria, and France.

In addition to retail, which other sectors represent key areas of growth for Total's business in Zambia?

After retail, the two key sectors are agriculture and transport. Developments in agriculture tie in with the government's targeted strategic approach in the next five years to diversify the economy. What is more, because of Zambia's geographical location at the heart of SADC and COMESA, transport needs to be boosted in order to successfully link the country up with its neighbors. The government plans for Zambia to become a hub for the sub-region, with all products, goods, and services in transit to neighboring countries passing through here. In line with this, Total has plans to harness the opportunities in this sector with tailor-made offers such as our Integrated Services Approach, which removes the burden of fuel management off the client, thus the client can focus on their core business and is guaranteed high safety level onsite, high quality of products, availability of products through reliable supply chain, and value-added services that bring improved cost management and savings. We have also introduced the TOTAL Card, a rechargeable, electronic card for purchase of fuel and goods in TOTAL stations, perfect for fleet management as it reduces incidents of fraud associated with fuelling and improves personnel safety by removing risks associated with carrying cash.

Do you see the aviation sector picking up in 2018?

With the government's determination to boost tourism in Zambia by implementing the Tourism Development Fund, which will support tourism products development, tourism infrastructure, and tourism marketing, this should reverse the trend in the last several years that led to major international carriers like British Airways and KLM abandoning this route. Also, with the planned reforms in the petroleum downstream sector, I expect a collaborative review of the supply and distribution scheme of aviation fuel with the stakeholders to address any weak points and offer solutions to strengthen supply of aviation fuel to all airports within the country at competitive prices. Lastly, the Ministry of Transport continues to discuss developments at KKIA International Airport, and there are plans underway for infrastructural projects in Ndola and in Kafue. In 2018, these benefits should trickle down into the system and we should see the aviation market doubling.

What makes Zambia an important region for Total's overall operations?

Zambia is an integral part of Total's history in Africa. We have had a presence here for 67 years now and we operated Indeni refinery, which was the only refinery in Zambia between 2002 and 2009, a government-owned holding in which we had a 50% share. From a business point of view, we also see Zambia as one of the countries in Africa that will experience exponential growth. Under its present administration, Zambia can realize its economic potential in the coming years. As a fast-growing company mobilized around a deep transformation journey, we have been preparing for this: we recently commissioned a world-class invariants compliant fuel depot in Lusaka, investing USD7 million in total in the project. Furthermore, our conviction that real growth will come from rural areas has led us to spend over USD30 million in the last three years purchasing and reconstructing sites in these outlying areas that lack fueling stations. As of today, we have about 52 active sites across the whole country. However, we are not stopping there, and in 2017 we have plans to invest USD12 million on constructing and buying new stations in rural and urban areas. We continue to develop expertise and build up capacities of the communities where we operate, with initiatives such as the Total Young Dealer Scheme, the Total Young Graduate Program, and the Total Start Upper Challenge for Young Entrepreneurs. We are also an active member of the Business-Linkages program, organized by PEP-Zambia and aimed at reinforcing links between SMEs and larger companies.