Abidjan, Nov 15, 2022 (AIP) – Franco-Ivorian entrepreneur born in the commune of Abobo, Guy-Aimé Koffi, aged 43, an actor in the development of public works in France, stayed in Abidjan as part of a mission led by the French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad, Olivier Becht. In an interview granted to the AIP, he exhorts young people to endurance and effort to succeed in life.
AIP: You have been in Côte d’Ivoire since October 26, 2022, with a delegation led by the Minister Delegate in charge of Foreign Trade, Attractiveness and French people living abroad, why this mission? And what is your assessment?
Guy-Aime Koffi : The initial goal of this mission is economic development. France, through Business France and the Mouvement des entreprises de France internationale (MEDEF), has decided to show the attractiveness of Côte d’Ivoire to French companies. Today, Côte d’Ivoire is in full development. And in this delegation, we are 50 companies, most of them small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The purpose of this mission is to forge a win-win partnership between French and Ivorian companies, in order to transmit technologies and know-how but above all to carry out the works together.
Today, the French government wants to allow small and medium-sized enterprises to export, and the Ivorian authorities are delighted to welcome them, these French SMEs on a human scale. After this three-day mission, we leave satisfied. The balance sheet is positive. I can’t wait to come back to finish what we started.
AIP: You are in the construction industry. Specifically, what is your field of activity and what experiences do you want to share in Côte d’Ivoire?
GA K: Nord TP operates in urban development and industrial sites, road networks and in the sanitation of rainwater and waste water. We work a lot with local authorities. And we are happy to be part of the development of the concept of sustainable city, because our work respects environmental standards.
The construction industry in Côte d’Ivoire is full of skills. We noted the existence of several companies. My observation is that civil engineering in the Ivory Coast or in France is generally the same. The advantage of France is the machines and the technology that goes with it, and that’s what we want to bring. It is no longer a question of coming with our machines, our technology, carrying out work and leaving.
This operation poses the problem of maintenance, afterwards. From now on, thanks to the will of the Ivorian and French governments, we will have the machines, the technology and the training on site. Moreover, we are ready to receive Ivorians wishing to deepen their skills in the field for training of four to six months.
AIP: You work with local authorities. What does your collaboration consist of and what projects have been carried out with these communities?
GA K: Our company has existed since 1995. To date, 2,000 projects have been carried out in several localities in France, such as in the department of Nord Pas-de-Calais, the metropolis of Lille. These projects are in the field of earthworks, rainwater recovery, road construction, construction of services, the subdivision that you call social housing. We have seven social housing projects underway in France with social landlords.
We, as a public works SME, have an integrated design office that calculates the type of roadwork to be done, the sanitation materials to be used according to the number of dwellings. It is upstream and downstream of all our projects. It guarantees the quality of the work we do.
AIP: Do you plan to implement social housing projects?
GA K: Personally, I have a project for the development of social housing integrating the notion of a sustainable city and this requires taking into account the local urban plan, carrying out sanitation, putting businesses and shops in the districts, putting a school nearby and build more energy-efficient housing. For example, set up a suitable individual wind energy source which will allow less electricity consumption.
Given the density of Abidjan, we must develop these concepts of housing, I would say at “moderate rents” with quality materials, why not Made in Côte d’Ivoire.
We have the possibility of increasing the skills of Ivorian companies in the field and I really think that these interactions between Franco-Ivorian entrepreneurs will pave the way for great things.
AIP : You mentioned the concept of a sustainable city, we are talking about it more and more, but also about climate change, green jobs and green businesses. How is it going at your level?
GA K: This green side must be integrated and imposed in all projects. For example, we could collect rainwater, as our parents did before, to water the plants or wash the car… We will consume less water. If we put solar panels on the buildings, that will not meet 100% of the consumption, but if we can reduce 30% of the consumption, suddenly, our electrical installations will consume less energy and we will save.
At Nord TP, as I was saying earlier, we work in compliance with environmental standards with quality materials. In urban planning, we favor the planting of trees, flowers and gardens. We are lucky to have beautiful forests in Côte d’Ivoire and in terms of CO2 capture, if we integrate all this, upstream, in the projects, it will happen naturally.
AIP: French entrepreneur of Ivorian origin, what is your advice for young people?
GA K: I was born in Abobo PK 18 and nothing predestined me to be seated opposite you today. The basis is education. My parents taught me respect and the will to aim high. You can be manual or very smart. One can be intellectual, very intelligent. To be able to move forward, you have to persevere and have the strength to work whatever the job you do. Whether you are a woman, a man, young people who want to work in Côte d’Ivoire… Côte d’Ivoire is a field of possibilities. As we say here, if we want we can. And me, I really believe in it and that’s what encourages me to come here to Côte d’Ivoire to say: guys, it’s not over, we’ll get there.