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Sogea-Satom is driving infrastructure development

Article - September 21, 2012
Sogea-Satom is a leader of Equatorial Guinea's construction sector. With rigorous professional standards and a reputation for responsibility, it owns the roads
Sogea Satom has been present in Africa for 70 years, in 25 countries. Part of French construction giant VINCI, the company operates four business sectors (roads and earthworks, hydraulic engineering, civil engineering, and building), employing 10,000 people of 23 nationailities. It is the oldest, biggest company of its category in Equatorial Guinea (EG). Known for their responsive organisational structure, the company adapts both physical and human resources to meet project expecations.

Sogea-Satom’s main client in Equatorial Guinea is the government. Road construction serves a vision of building the country – with a focus on quality and efficiency. Short decision-making processes set the company apart from the competition, allowing them to anticipate market changes. For 10 years, EG's economic development has been exponential. Says President Obiang, “The transformation of Equatorial Guinea can be appreciated in the infrastructure –roads, ports, airports, admin buildings – which has a direct effect on the morale of the population.”

Equatorial Guinea has a strategic plan; Sogea-Satom will build it. They’ve put up roads in villages where there were none. They’ve constructed national highways through previously impassable terrain. The company as a whole has repaired over 3,000 miles of damaged roadways and built over 6,000 miles of bitumen-surfaced roads across the continent. 

“We apply the experience we have and utilize the systems we know to establish good standards for the country’s development.”

“Sogea-Satom has a threshold of experience and equipment at its disposal. There is also the utilization of local skills.”

Frank Casteleyn,
General Director of Sogea Satom

Where before there were no clear criteria for the frenzy of project proposals, now there is a unified effort between EG’s administration and corporate contractors. “The country is being built very rapidly,” says General Director Frank Casteleyn, “and it has to be done properly.”

He marvels at EG's amazing potential “to build the country in 10 years.” Every day new projects are starting. Every day new projects are completed as planned. Sogea-Satom’s online newsletter, Contact Afrique, carries the latest project news. EG’s entire road network is set to be perfectly laid out and refurbished in five years’ time.” 

Mr. Casteleyn is at the forefront of the industry. His greatest motivation? Local action. Mr. Casteleyn speaks of Sogea-Satom’s essentially “African spirit”, attributing the company’s longevity and success to its localised structure, 90% Guinean workforce, and expertise of managers and directors. When he articulates leadership style, he speaks of a partnership with Equatorial Guinea itself: a network of trust relating to the workers and the local authorities. It is a business culture of personal responsibility, based on trust and commitment.

“This trust is like nothing that I have ever seen. You have to respect it. You have to deserve it. You do everything in your power to do things well. This is the sort of sentiment that we have throughout the company,” says Mr. Casteleyn.

Sogea-Satom’s investment in its workers is significant. Technical training programs on operating machinery, proper surveying, trade requirements, and self-sufficiency in the field include a series of classroom lectures visualization simulators, and onsite trainings. These skilled “earth movers” operate a fleet of modern high-performance machines, satellite navigation systems, lorries, digging equipment, grading machines, concrete plants, coating units, crushing units, etc. In short, Sogea-Satom comprises an incomparable workforce of road builders. 

The company's sustainable development policy enacts a series of tangible social and environmental actions, carried out as close to the ground as possible – from environmental protection and impact limits, to employee and community safety, to combating disease. Used oil is recycled as fuel. Driving courses are energy efficient. Trees are cut sparingly if at all. Water systems are not compromised. Equipment is well-maintained, worker safety ensured, and road safety programs taught in schools. 

Sogea-Satom supplies local schools with provisions, and among the community the company promotes hygiene and disease prevention and provides regular medical care.  Employees themselves are encouraged to organize long-term social solidarity initiatives.

As the largest road infrastructure company in Equatorial Guinea, Sogea-Satom works with the government and local communities to build the roads of a fast-developing nation.

They work with roadways to raise the standard of living. General Director Casteleyn hails Equatorial Guinea as a model of rapid development, saying that the country “has a lot to offer and people should really keep a close eye on it. Those who come here will see it for what it is – a true example of an African success story.”