The AGS Group is set to become the first removals company in the world to have full operations in 51 countries in Africa and will shortly open in Eritrea, South Sudan, and Seychelles to complete the network.
AGS was founded in Paris in 1974 and now has 127 offices in 84 countries across the world. The company began operations to and from Africa in 1993 after establishing a base in French-speaking Ivory Coast. This decision followed a high demand from French clients relocating to the area and the absence of reliable quality service providers in the region.
This is not, however, the only reason for the Group’s extensive presence in Africa.
Alain Taïeb, Chairman of the Group, believes that other multinational companies have only belatedly realised the magnitude of the potential of Africa. Covering 30 million km2, it is the second-largest continent in size and one of the largest producers of minerals. It also has key markets with strong growth potential and a young and dynamic population.
"Some countries may be volatile, but the situation is constantly evolving," explained Alain, himself born in Africa. “This continent will have two billion people by 2050; the middle classes are growing – like in China – which implies more wealth; not to speak of Africa's natural resources. People are becoming more educated, some are willing to live better; it is clear that Africa is changing and growing rapidly. This is the foundation of our ‘Africa54’ project: to have a strong physical presence in all African countries. This is a project we all believe in at AGS.”
Laying the foundations in Africa
Africa is a vast continent and can be a difficult place to operate – both from the logistical point of view and in terms of finding people with the right skills to do the job.
AGS’s expansion throughout the African continent has been both through acquisition and by starting new operations from scratch. A major landmark in AGS’s development in Africa was the acquisition of South Africa’s relocation leader in 2001, which greatly increased the company’s footprint in the southern part of the continent. AGS formed a team of experienced managers to recruit and train personnel and oversee each new operation during the critical start-up period, before handing over control to the new team. While local managers handle the day-to-day running of each branch, moves are coordinated centrally by the AGS Africa Desk, which deals with international communications and facilitates all operations. The department is currently handling around 8000 moves a year.
As an ISO 9001:2008 certified company with 13 FAIM accredited companies in Africa alone (31 in total in the Group), maintaining high quality and unified standards is a top priority for AGS. “The group benefits our staff in Africa with employment, and through them we benefit in return from a nuanced and uniquely local understanding of the territory and way of life in their respective countries,” said Alain. “Creating a team spirit and a happy working environment is very important, and our staff work hard to achieve this. From an administrative point of view all our branches are also independently audited regularly in accordance with our ISO certification, so procedures and working practices are maintained throughout the network.”
Management at AGS sees Africa very much as the continent of the future, and has clearly invested heavily in establishing a network of branches across the continent. Its workforce now stands at an impressive 2,406, speaking a vast array of local languages as well as English, French, Portuguese and Arabic. “We believe Africa has a lot to offer to international businesses and we want to encourage more businesses to consider establishing themselves here,” said Alain.
Photos: AGS at work in Cameroon (top); Alain Taïeb, AGS Group Chairman (top right); AGS at work in South Africa (middle left and bottom right).
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