MOROCCO - Real Estate & Construction
CEO, SOGEA Maroc
A graduate of ESTP and CHEC, Driss El Rhazi has spent most of his career in the various construction trades. In 1990, he began his career as a control office engineer within Bureau Veritas. He then joined SOGEA Maroc, a subsidiary of the VINCI group, in 1992 as a design engineer, later becoming director of studies and methods at the head of an integrated design office, technical director, as well as deputy general manager in charge of the technical direction, the hydraulic direction, the civil engineering direction and the engineering works direction. With more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry, El Rhazi has been Managing Director of SOGEA Maroc since 2014.
What main challenges did you have to overcome during the pandemic?
The consequences of the pandemic have been significant for all sectors of activity. In construction, where we are active, the pandemic resulted in a three-month stoppage of all projects and construction sites. For SOGEA Maroc, the stakes were high. We had to guarantee the safety of all employees and draw a roadmap for a resumption of activity in the best conditions. We have managed the decline in productivity, and we have borne all the costs caused by the shutdown of certain projects. This resulted in a 20% loss of revenue and played a significant role in the decline in turnover. Throughout this difficult period, we were able to remain vigilant and united, while also making our contribution to the special fund dedicated to the management of the pandemic.
What is your overview of the sector, both in general and in terms of the ability to bounce back after the pandemic?
The construction sector in Morocco was doing well. Morocco was in a stage of continuous development in terms of various infrastructure projects, and the pandemic had far-reaching repercussions. A revealing factor of the impact on the sector is the cement sales. Due to the shutdown of several projects, sales plummeted considerably during this period. Many companies suffered great financial difficulties, while others were forced to suspend their activities. However, I think the sector will rebound. This is already the case for us in 2021 with an increase in turnover compared to 2020.
Does SOGEA Maroc remain optimistic for the sector?
Construction is a key sector of the Moroccan economy, contributing nearly 6% to the national GDP, with almost 1 million jobs. At SOGEA Maroc, we are optimistic because we have been able to adapt quickly to new constraints and optimize our operating methods. Having said that, it is important for the government to launch major projects to further stimulate the sector and safeguard employment.
In general, what are the criteria for selecting the projects you are working on?
We target clients with whom we share the same commitments, by working on projects with high added value for SOGEA Maroc, which allow us to highlight our expertise and propose innovative solutions.
Does your close relationship with your customers set you apart from your competitors?
SOGEA Maroc has an integrated design department with nearly 50 employees that allows us to offer solutions adapted to the needs of our customers as well as technical variants that allow us to keep pace with market developments and position ourselves in relation to the competition. The quality of our work and the respect of our contractual engagements are two other major differentiating factors.
Do you have any regional development plans?
Our group is present in nearly 20 countries in Africa, covering the building, hydraulics, civil engineering, and engineering sectors. In line with Morocco’s economic opening on the African continent, our desire is to support Africa’s development and share our expertise. This support will initially concern the hydraulics and construction sectors, with the support of the group companies already established.
What are your objectives and expectations for the year?
The main objective is continuing to progress in our various activities and grow our human capital, as our team is our real wealth and the reason for our success. Our top priority is our customers’ satisfaction and loyalty. We constantly listen to them to meet their expectations and even exceed them, thus forging long-lasting relationships focused on transparency and trust. Furthermore, we have set ourselves an ambition that goes beyond economic performance. We also aim to improve our social, societal, and environmental performance. We are contributing to making a difference and creating a better future for communities.
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