Enabling African Industry
“We contribute to the future of Africa through supporting our customers.” Alexis Madrange, CEO of CFAO Technology & Energy, discusses the company’s efforts towards developing African industry infrastructure
Writer: Marcus Kääpä | Project Manager: Lewis Bush
For almost 170 years, CFAO Group has been serving Africa across the mobility, healthcare, consumer goods, infrastructure, and energy sectors.
And with these years of experience, its local expertise, and large distribution network comprising of 158 subsidiaries, the group is the largest in its sphere on the African continent.
“Today, we have near 21,000 employees working across all sectors,” begins Alexis Madrange, CEO of the company’s technology and energy division.
CFAO Group established CFAO Technologies 18 years ago to support African organisations with digital transformations. Facing new growth opportunities and the acceleration of changes that the continent was experiencing, CFAO Technologies expanded its scope in 2018 to become CFAO Technology & Energy.
The division combines its information and communication technologies (ICT) business, the CFAO Group’s elevator business (that has been present within the group for over 60 years), and a newly formed energy business that draws on the experience of the group’s parent company Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC), and its long experience in data centres energy exigent environment.
CFAO Technology & Energy is headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, offering highly effective and innovative services for companies and organisations in the public and private sectors, across the continent.
“We contribute to the future of Africa through supporting our customers,” Madrangeexplains. “This includes the design, development, implementation and management of new solutions, adapted to the economic, social and cultural specificities of the countries that make up the continent.
“We focus on three key departments: ICT, Lift, and Energy, with a goal to help our customers implement their energy transition and digital transformation.”
“We focus on three key divisions: ICT, Lift, and Energy, with a goal to help its customers implement their energy transition and digital transformation”
Within its ICT services, the expertise of the CFAO Technology & Energy team allows the division to design innovative solutions for IT infrastructure, networks and communications, user environments, applications, and more. An example of this includes handling installation and maintenance projects for data centres, computer systems and printers. The company’s ICT services are underpinned by a meticulous approach, close working relationships with its customers, a service-oriented culture, and its commitment to service-level agreements (SLAs).
“CFAO Technology & Energy is a key player in the African elevator market as well, and has partnered for over 60 years with OTIS, a global company that develops, manufactures and markets elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and related equipment,” Madrange adds.
“We install OTIS systems in 19 West African countries and provide vertical transport servicing solutions for elevators made by OTIS and other companies. We draw on the complementarity of our ICT and energy activities to offer energy-self-sufficient devices and connect them to our supervision centre.”
The company’s energy service solutions range from energy audits to solar power generation. CFAO Technology & Energy works with its customers to enhance their energy self-sufficiency and reduce their negative ecological footprint. The subsidiary also offers turnkey solutions including maintenance and financing to provide a comprehensive customer service across its energy solutions.
Senegal is a strategic location when it comes to international connectivity. Its capital of Dakar is approximately 6,000 kilometres from many major continental cities, such as New York, London, Paris, Rio, and Cape Town, providing the Senegalese city the advantage of direct connection to multiple hubs of trade and industry. Consequently, this also makes Dakar part of a very competitive and growing technology market.
“If Kenya is the Eastern Gate to Africa, Senegal is one to Western Africa,” Madrangeelaborates. “Being based in Dakar has given my team the possibility to work closely with start-ups; the African digital players who are transforming the economy by leveraging transaction platforms such as financial services, drones, next mobility, and access to energy.
“In this space we are challenged every day to build the right added value infrastructures and services for competitive prices, and with the strong support of our partners, we have the local skilled tech teams to achieve that goal. CFAO Technology & Energy invests a substantial amount of time each year into training and upskilling its technical teams.”
According to Madrange, Africa’s digital and energy transition is a primary reason as to why the company changed its division headquarters from Sevres, France, to Dakar. The players, decision-makers and entrepreneurs within the space are rooted in Africa, and this local presence provides CFAO Technology & Energy, as well as the wider technology industry, with an innovative environment in which to develop new pan-African value chains. CFAO Technology & Energy’s current strategic position in Africa is a part of the company’s aim to collaborate with its clients and create solutions while also being able to offer unified and dedicated support across its continental services.
Digitalisation and Data centres
CFAO Technology & Energy commits itself to contributing to the energy transition within Africa by proposing very simple and effective renewable energy solutions for commercial and industrial companies. Last year, CFAO Technology & Energy equipped three companies in Senegal, and one in Cameroon, with 700 kilowatts-peak (kWp) photovoltaic (PV) plants, as Madrange elaborates.
“We can either rent or sell the plants, and these companies who make use of the PV plants make substantial savings and huge CO2 emission reductions,” he says. Moreover, as we monitor the consumption, we help our customers contribute to a decarbonated growth. Step by step, everyone will contribute to a sustainable growth with Africa, for Africa!”
Prior to this, in 2019, CFAO collaborated with Toyota Tsusho Groups on an initiative alongside Mobility54; mobility-dedicated corporate venture capital (CVC) in Africa. Mobility54 is currently investing in partnerships with innovative technology companies to revolutionise the mobility industry of the continent. Its mission is to contribute to solving Africa’s social and industrial challenges.
“It is a win-win synergy where the Group is providing its pan-African network and ground expertise to our partners,” Madrange explains. “On the CFAO side, we provide the added value of offering African start-ups solutions in the face of scale-up difficulties.
“An example of this is cybersecurity; a substantial necessity to these start-ups, and one of our primary areas of expertise. We have already started to run security audits, PenTests, GDPR regulations, and cloud orchestration for them. For each software problem or issue, we can find our clients fitting solutions from our large portfolio of partnerships.”
CFAO Technology & Energy acts as an enabler for such start-up businesses in Africa. The company’s role is to help address its pan-African customers, and another way of doing so is building data centres.
“Our teams have a unique experience in engineering, procurement, project management, construction, testing and commissioning, operations and maintenance of tier three, three-plus and four data centres,” Madrange informs us. “We have been doing this for major telco operators, banks and governments for the past ten years. These data centres are essential assets for the development of the digital ecosystem in Africa.”
Moving ahead into the decade, CFAO Technology & Energy’s top priority is to invest in its own digitalisation and energy transition in order to guide the way for such a developing digital ecosystem within the continent. Alongside this, the company is in the process of defining its decarbonisation path to lead a progressive future as industry’s preferred service partner for infrastructure development and management across Africa, for Africa.