Of the 12 cement factories in the group, GICA has 100 per cent ownership of seven of them. Foreign operators have a 35 per cent share of the other five, with GICA holding a controlling 65 per cent share.
Explaining the rationale behind having foreign partners in some of the plants, Yahia Bachir, Groupe GICA’s CEO, says: “Our aim has been to benefit from their expertise in the field of management in order to optimise the production tools at our disposal. It has worked well, so we are trying to reinforce this with the future partners we chose.”
Some of the new cement factories planned as part of GICA’s $4 billion (£2.6 billion) investment programme are likely to be joint ventures, and foreign know-how and experience is also being sought in exporting cement.
Foreign companies also have an important contribution to make when it comes to technology.
“When you do your business without opening up to the outside to see what is going on in terms of technology, you can go backwards instead of forwards,” says Mr Bachir. “Being with big international companies enables us stay in touch with technological evolution and that will help us grow. Our objective is to optimise the production tools available to us with the help of partners who are some way ahead of us.”
GICA has also started discussions with foreign companies about developing a training centre for engineers and technicians.
“We want to specialise in cement industry techniques, which today involve more than the good standard training that is available in Algeria,” says Mr Bachir.
“We need a complementary training centre where we can train engineers and technicians in the techniques of the industry so they become operational as fast as possible. We want to involve foreign partners who have a head start on us in this.”