For the ones who have never been to humid hot Dar-el-Salaam, might be difficult to understand the special charme of this country. Tanzania with its 55,5 milions habitants is home to two renowned tourism destinations – Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, and wildlife-rich national parks such as the Serengeti. But there is more. Bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique, the country has a lot of more beauty to offer. Domestic stability has not translated into economic prosperity for all Tanzanians, however. We meet the Country Manager of Sika Tanzania, Alfonso Paradinas in the city center to get some more details.
As one of the youngest GMs at Sika only a few months ago you left Europe to manage Sika Tanzania. How are you doing and what surprises have you experienced so far in Dar-es-Salaam?
It has only been six months since I arrived in Tanzania and despite an adventurous beginning, I am now quite settled and happy in Dar es Salaam.
Having lived in Zurich for over two years, landing in Dar was indeed very challenging; from serious flooding or just random unexpected traffic jams, to unreliable power and water supply, daily life in Tanzania is quite a rollercoaster. However, now that I am somewhat used to these puzzling “surprises”, Dar es Salaam is a friendly and wonderful city and Tanzania is without a doubt a beautiful country worth exploring.
The biggest personal win in managing a team?
Although it is not my first line management experience, managing a team in Africa is very different from doing so in Europe. The motivation and the eagerness to learn from our Tanzanian employees makes my role much more rewarding.
As a line manager, one of your most important tasks is to motivate your team and to make their job exciting and equally challenging. In a startup company like Sika Tanzania, these tasks become much easier to achieve; being such a small organization, everyone needs to fulfill many different roles, which makes it impossible to fall into a routine.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about working at Sika Tanzania?
Team work. I am blessed to have such a united group. There is a great work ethic and spirit, which makes my job much easier.
Working for Sika in Tanzania gives you the opportunity to manage and know the whole company with the incredible added value of having 17’000 employees across the world that are always willing to help you.
Tanzania has been politically and economically stable over the last years. What is your personal outlook?
Compared to other African countries, Tanzania has traditionally been quite a stable republic upon independence in 1961. However, the country is currently facing some important challenges since the election of the new president just over a year ago; His ambition and determination to tackle corruption has brought market uncertainty and liquidity issues. Many infrastructure projects are currently on hold due to lack of funding and sadly due to this current instability some international investors are leaving the country.
Despite this challenging business environment, Sika Tanzania is steadily growing and we expect to finish the year with positive sales results.
And the construction market? Where exactly does Tanzania profit from Sika?
Despite the current lack of liquidity and the market uncertainty, Tanzania is benefiting from large funding coming from international financial institutions like the Word Bank or IMF, who have recently confirmed investments into some big infrastructure projects. At the same time, Chinese, Turkish and Moroccan construction companies, backed by their governments, are involved in the Dar port extension, a new railway line crossing the country and the new stadium in Dodoma. Thus, we are patiently waiting for these projects to kick off as we are very well positioned to become one of the preferred suppliers.
"Sika Tanzania has the only admixture plant in the country, which makes our products and our local supply chain extremely attractive for these construction companies. At the same time, Sika’s worldwide reputation of quality, problem solving and local presence translates in a unique offer for the Tanzanian market." Alfonso Paradinas, Country Manager Sika Tanzania Construction Chemicals Ltd.
What infrastructure vision do you have for the country in terms of making people’s life easier in the future?
Whilst less than 20% of Tanzanian citizens have access to electricity and just over 25% have access to water and sanitation, over 65% of citizens have access to internet! These statistics show the lack of civil infrastructure and power generation availability in the country, in contrast to the progress made in wireless technology.
Therefore, Tanzania urgently requires huge investment in new power plants, renewable energy, water supply and sanitation infrastructure to improve the life standards of its citizens.
What are the immediate goals for Sika Tanzania?
Sales, sales, sales! Now that Sika Tanzania has now been present for over a year and quite some investment has been made in the country, we are now fully focused on increasing sales. Since we have recently started our local admixtures plant, our immediate goal is with ready mix concrete plants and cement manufacturing customers.
"We need to leverage our unique value proposition; being the only supplier producing local concrete and cement admixtures gives us a big competitive advantage in terms of flexible supply chain, local customer service and products tailored to our customers." Alfonso Paradinas, Country Manager Sika Tanzania Construction Chemicals Ltd.
Safaris, great beaches, big capital, political stability, peace between Muslims and Christians - Does this come close to what Tanzania is about?
Tanzania has indeed great safaris, stunning beaches and incredible sunsets. The diversity of what Tanzania has to offer is unique; you can hike up Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa or sail and dive in the Indian Ocean or even explore the amazing landscapes around Lake Tanganika or Lake Victoria or for the more adventurous go to the world famous national safari parks.
However, I always think that a country can be better defined by its people; Tanzanians are extremely welcoming, always willing to help and with a permanent smile on their face. So far I have only met very kind and relaxed people who enjoy the present without worrying too much about the future.
What is it that you personally enjoy the most about life in Tanzania?
Living in Africa has always been one of my big dreams and although our arrival in Dar es Salaam was quite challenging, especially during the heavy rainfall season, my wife and I are now beginning to settle in and to enjoy life.
Life in Tanzania has a different rhythm to the one in Europe. I am truly enjoying spending more time at home with my wife, reading a book and watching the sunset whilst walking on the beach.
Since it is my first African adventure and Tanzania is strategically located and surrounded by eight other beautiful countries, I am already looking forward to exploring the African continent whilst living here.
What are your aspirations for the country looking forward?
There is still so much to do and to accomplish here in Tanzania, most notably new motorways, airports, power plants and stadiums. This country has so many natural resources such as gold, diamonds, iron, coal and even natural gas, which is wonderful and should be a huge help going forward.
"Despite the numerous political challenges that Tanzania is currently facing, I am very optimistic about the future of this country. There are many opportunities lying ahead and we very much hope that Sika will play an important role in Tanzania’s ongoing construction development." Alfonso Paradinas, Country Manager Sika Tanzania Construction Chemicals Ltd.