The landlocked country of Chad suffers from a number of misconceptions, according to Komi Azomedon, country manager for DHL Express. How we made it in Africa asks Azomedon about doing business in Chad and some of the untapped opportunities.
What would you say are the major misconceptions about Chad?
The first misconception is about food. As a desert country, people think there is not fresh fish in Chad. Although a large part of the country is very dry, there are areas with fertile land where crops such as sorghum, millet, cotton and nuts are grown. Livestock is also a large industry.
The second misconception is about infrastructure. People have this perception that there are no roads in Chad, but there has been real improvement in road infrastructure, and new construction projects are changing the face of the country.
In addition to the capital N’Djamena, Chad’s main business hubs are Bongor, Moundou and Abéché.
Chad also boasts a number of successful local firms, such as ENCOBAT, a respected subcontractor for oil and gas companies.
The best thing about Chad is the fact that people are friendly despite decades of war. The worst parts are insecurity and the low level of literacy.
Describe the changes you are witnessing in Chad’s economy.
The economy is supported by the oil and gas sector. Some of the major international oil companies operating in Chad include ExxonMobil, Chevron and the China National Petroleum Corporation.
The lack of power and water is holding back industrial growth, although the government is making efforts to change the situation.
The sectors responsible for most of DHL’s business in Chad are oil and gas, finance and NGOs.
In which sectors are the major untapped business opportunities?
With significant deposits of iron ore and gold, among others, Chad’s mining resources sector remains unexploited. There are also opportunities in retail and hospitality. Hilton and Novotel both have new hotels in the country.
In your opinion, what are the strategies needed for business success in Chad?
You need to have a Chadian sponsor – a person who is able to solve any kind of problem you will face.
Foreign companies should also be aware that Chad is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Mercer has ranked N’Djamena as the fourth most expensive city globally for expatriates. Prices for flights and accommodation are very steep.
Before starting operations investors need to ensure that they are registered. It is important to comply fully with tax regulations. Because of the lack of electricity, companies will have to acquire their own generators.
The major challenges of doing business in Chad include dealing with the country’s hot climate, red tape and power constraints. Finding skilled staff can also be difficult. Skilled human resources are mainly sourced from neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, Congo and Gabon.