Cameroon’s Industrialisation Is Now – Dr Sigalla

13 Nov 2012

Dr. Prella Clever Sigalla is the General Manager of Guff Steel Industries, a transformation industry now operational in Ombe, Southwest Region. In this exclusive interview, the medic cum industrial promoter talks about the need to revolutionarise Cameroon’s industrial sector and getting an independent currency in the international market place if the country has to emerge.



What is Guff Steel Industries all about?

Guff Steel Industries is a transformation industry of scrape metals. We’re into the manufacturing of building materials; rods, zinc, nails and more. Our intention is to serve the local needs so that Cameroonians can be able to build their own houses with ease. This is a high capacity industry involved in dye-casting, melding and foundering.

Do you have updated technology to accompany you?

Dr Prella Clever Sigalla, GM, Guff Steel Industries

We’ve an innovation on the use of metals. We’ve the knowhow on how to produce what is good that will serve the population today and tomorrow. Since the laying of the foundation stone of Guff Steel Industries, July 20 2012 in Ombe, Tiko Subdivision by the Minister of Technological  Industrial Development, we have been installing our machines and fine-tuning our ideas to better produce our goods and how to better serve Cameroonians.

What has been your evolution since the laying of the foundation stone?

Construction is ongoing at the site in Ombe. Part of the foundering department is abroad with our partners while Cameroon department is ongoing. Now, our focus is to let our employees know the philosophy of the company. In the days ahead, about 500 Cameroonians will be recruited in various specialties. These Cameroonians will undergo in-house training to better understand what the company is all about, our values and culture. The government has been supervising our activities and has given all what we need as authorisation documents.  This has taken some time though. Our machines and laboratory equipment are coming from India, China and Germany. That will make up 65% of the company’s components while 35% will be technology from Cameroon.

How relevant is this company to Cameroon?

The world’s trend is on and about steel. Most of the things around us are about steel. The steel industry is in vogue and Cameroon is lagging behind. In South Africa, Ghana they employ their own steel. I have travelled around the world, did some studies and seen how things are evolving. I have talked to some friends on how we can make things work in Cameroon. A lot of the steel we’ve in Cameroon is imported. Why should we continue to import the steel technology, when we’ve the raw materials here? The government of Cameroon has banned the importation of scrape materials. The issue now is to create local industries that can produce steel related products. Local industries will create employment opportunities that will last for the next 40-50 years. That’s my vision and plan, which has been approved by the government of Cameroon. The steel industry goes with energy, so we are sure to get 3,500 kilowatts of power from AES Sonel with a back-up. We have also put a mechanism that our employment opportunities will progressively move up to 700 people. The steel industry goes with the human capacity, who are expected to work in shifts.

With the epileptic supply of power from AES Sonel, are you convinced you will stand up to the challenges?

Dr. Prella Clever Sigalla: Guff Steel Industries is a transformation industry of scrape metals.

From our studies, AES Sonel knows they are going to give us 3,500 KW of energy. We have fusion furnaces that will be used interchangeably. When that of 1,500KW is on the cooling system, the other automatically picks up. If power goes off, we’ve a back of 1,500KW of energy. This will be able to carry on with our fusion furnace.

Cameroon’s educational system is general education dominated. As you pursue the recruitment of Cameroonians, are you sure you will get the right people for this industry?

We need a cross section of people. Our focus will not be on your diploma or degree. We’ve the capacity to transfer out knowledge to those who will be recruited. It’s not your qualification that is important. It’s the training that we shall give the individual. We’re going to transfer technology. That will be a plus for some Cameroonians. The more they are interested the better because they will learn new skills, work and earn a salary. It is possible.

How will the transfer of technology be possible vis-a-vis your international partners?

At Guff Steel Industries, our focus is also on the international market. Our products will be used across the world and to attain that level, there must be transfer of technology. We’re using new equipments; we must teach our employees on how to use them. In that process, there is transfer of technology. We are a company worth FCFA 12 Billion, so our profit margin cannot be only from Cameroon. We’ve to extend our business operations, products in the international scene. If we need our employees to know what is happening in the international market, then we’ve to equip them with technology. We need to be known in the international scene in order to source for more funding. We are not limiting our activities only to Cameroon. We have to move out and compete with others.

Who are the people behind this initiative?

It’s Dr Sigalla alone. There is no person behind except God, who is giving me the opportunity to dream, the strength and the holy favour to push on.

Where are you getting the money from?

GM of Guff Steel Industries: The world’s trend is on and about steel. Most of the things around us are about steel.

The world is a complex place. I am above FCFA 12.5 Billion. We’ve international partners serving as brokers. We’re in synergy with them. We’ll make our products and they will sell them. We are in the world market, pushing in our self. When you are in the milieu, you have to dream. That’s the way I am working.

Are you catching in on the talk that Cameroon is a virgin land? Anything can happen here?

Those are lazy people saying so. You have virgin land everywhere in the world. You should know what you are doing, do an assessment of what you want to do, have a target for it, be principled, courageous, determined and lay out strategies. If you do not plan and know where you are going to, you will not achieve.  It’s not about money. You can have the money, the resources but if you do not have the capacity to manage them, you will do nothing.

We’ve heard all these before and before you know, they have vamoosed from the scene…

So far, I have already spent FCFA 2.4 Billion on infrastructure at the Ombe site. Are you saying this money will disappear like that? We will close shop and go to sleep? It’s easy to say it. Since July 20 2012, my expenditure is already running up to FCFA 4 Billion. We will begin training our recruited staff soon and getting logistics. That will open another huge chunk of budget. We will continue what we’ve started and subsequently achieve something.

Are you gearing up to President Biya’s Vision 2035 of Cameroon’s emergence?

There is a wrong interpretation giving to that Presidential vision. Our is yet to get into industrialisation. We’re still waiting for white people to come and get us into industrialisation. In Ghana, most of the investors are Ghanaians, in South Africa, 90 percent of the investors are South Africans, same scenario in Tanzania and other African countries. We’ve to revolutionarise the industrial sector in Cameroon. It’s not foreigners or white people who will do it for us. We must have Cameroonians who have to dream in the industrial sector. Let Cameroonians not talk about the problem of funding. It will not come. Bring in your ideas, strategies and map out your profit margin. I am already projecting into my profits in the next ten years, the kinds of machines I will change, following the evolution of technology. People are misinterpreting the message of President Biya. An emergent economy goes with an independent currency. Where is the position of the FCFA in the international market? It does not exist. But you will find the Naira, the Cedi, the Rand. These countries have the Stock Exchange. Which of our products are in the international stock exchange? We must be able to buy from the international market with our currency. If we cannot do that, we will not emerge. President Biya is telling Cameroonians to dream. He is not concluding that by 2035 we shall be an industrialised country. India is a very corrupt country in the world but it didn’t take them up to 25 years to emerge.

Going solo on this business is a polite way to shoot yourself on the leg?

When you talk about a partnership in a business, you have to define the role(s) of your partner(s). We’re in synergy with international partners. These are the representatives who will take our products to the international market. We’ve partners in the areas of equipment and logistics. We share ideas on what to be done. So, we’ve many levels of partnerships; independent, private and bilateral as they obtain in international business. At Guff Steel, we’re a citizen company. We will remain a Cameroonian company, with our own culture. We will not be influenced. Our international partners come with a specific need(s). They make a request of what they want from us and not telling us what to do. Our partners are not part of the conception of our company.

Will Guff Steel operate entirely from Ombe?

The production plant is in Ombe while as of now, the Headquarter is in Douala. That’s where I work with all my staff.

Tell us more about yourself…

I am a Cameroonian and a medic by profession. I am a Surgeon. I also took interest in Public Health, doing consultancy for the World Bank health projects across the world. I studied in the US. Along the line, I realised that the health sector wasn’t my gift. In the health sector I was dependent not independent. Hence, I moved on to study what the steel industry is all about. I am not into this industry by chance.  I’ve done some background work. A friend and medic too has one of the best steel industry in Ghana. Another friend that we studied together in Canada has a foundering plant in South Africa, why not me in Cameroon?

Interviewed By Walter Wilson Nana

Buea, Cameroon


Read 4194 times Last modified on dimanche, 12 octobre 2014 16:24

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