UAE truck bodybuilders eye African markets

Gorica and Mammut keen on expansion in East Africa

PHOTO: An oilfield shale shaker trailer, built by Mammut Industries. Oil-producing markets in Africa have been hard hit by low crude prices, the company says. Credit: Supplied

Truck bodybuilders in the UAE are keen on stepping up their presence in African markets as they look to venture outside the GCC.

Dubai-based Gorica Industries, one of the biggest names in the segment, is already active in Africa, says managing director Ivan Fornazaric.

“Our main markets are the Middle East and Africa. This is where we sell,” he said. While the GCC is the company’s focus, Gorica says East Africa, in particular, is also a notable market due to its geographical proximity. “We also sell to West and Central Africa and North Africa,” he added.

UAE-based Mammut is also eyeing opportunities in the East African market, said Fabio Checchin, sales manager at Mammut Industries. This is because the cost of transporting trailers to other parts of Africa is simply not feasible. “There’s no chance to export in South Africa, for example. Unless you are producing some specific bodies that nobody else is making, you can’t be competitive.”

Less specialised products hardly stand a chance, given the high freight costs. “It would cost much less to ship from Italy to western Africa, than from Dubai to western Africa. An Italian bodybuilder could be much more competitive than us, even if the labour cost is much higher.”

“For the time being, we’re selling a lot of trailers in Ethiopia. Now we would also like to enter Kenya, but to be honest, it’s not easy. I don’t think we will get results very soon. There are some other countries on our radar as well,” Checchin noted.

Ethiopia looks promising for Mammut, and the company has recently received requests for quotations there. Demand in the East African nation is largely driven by construction vehicles, such as tippers and concrete mixers.

Even as the large number of construction and infrastructure projects on the continent offer potentially lucrative prospects, Africa has been hard hit by low crude prices, Checchin said. Countries like Algeria and Nigeria, which rely on oil for a significant proportion of their GDP, have been particularly affected. “Africa is suffering a lot. This reflects in a lack of money to buy trucks and trailers,” Checchin said.

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