Lalani set for Leaders’ forum

Mr Oliver Lalani, the executive director of Roofings Group addresses journalists. PHOTO by Abubaker Lubow

What you need to know:

Sharing success experiences. Oliver Lalani hopes to share with other entrepreneurs about how the company has succeeded in these tough economic times during the Daily Monitor Thought Leaders’ Forum slated December 9 at the Kampala Serena Hotel

Who is Mr Oliver Lalani?
I am the executive director of Roofings Group. I joined the family business in 2009 after completing my studies.

What formed your decision to sponsor this year’s Thought Leader’s Forum?
Because last year’s event was a great success! Besides, we support skills and knowledge development which are some of the aspects that the Forum addresses. So, the Thought Leader’s Forum is the kind of initiative we would want to partner with.

The theme of this year’s Thought Leaders Forum is; “Surfing The Tsunami”. What does this mean to the business community?

Tight liquidity, high interest rates, inflation, political instability in the region, exchange rate fluctuation, falling global commodity prices reducing the value of exports in certain sectors have all had an adverse impact on the performance of the economy and all sectors and indeed businesses within it.

It is in this light that I feel the theme ‘Surfing the Tsunami’ is very fitting. We all know that the Tsunami has hit, but how to put the tools and the knowledge together to surf the Tsunami is what the Thought Leaders Forum will address. In that way, the title sets the right tone for what the main challenges are in today’s environment and how we, as the private sector can overcome them.

How effective are forums of this nature in as far as encouraging entrepreneurship?

An open forum like this one will always encourage entrepreneurship. Pooling leaders from all sectors into an open discussion will bring up a lot of new ideas on leadership. In this way, we can learn from each other by sharing our stories, our way of positioning our businesses in a way that ensures sustainability even in tough economic circumstances.
What I believe is that with good people and the right vision, no situation can be to challenging to overcome as long as we utilise the available resources effectively. The speakers and invited panelists invited all seem to have a lot of experience, it will be great for the participants to learn from people of that ilk who have hands-on experience, and who have succeeded in ‘riding the wave’ rather than being negatively affected by it.

What do you make of the performance of the country’s manufacturing industry?
The manufacturing sector in Uganda has been growing consistently for the last two decades or so. However, during the last few years there has been a lack of investment in certain sectors of manufacturing. There are big opportunities in agro-processing & processing of minerals. The oil sector is of course the most significant one. Once these areas are further tapped into, I am sure that the manufacturing sector will get a huge boost.

That said, it is important to note that the cost of manufacturing is a continuous challenge, especially the access to reliable power which is a prime requirement for manufacturing to grow. However, we are optimistic that the ongoing investment in power generation and the increased efficiencies in distribution will surely enable more investment into manufacturing.

What has driven Roofings Group’s success?
I believe our success is built on a strong foundation of quality products, in time delivery, continuous investment in modern machineries, transparent and ethical business practices. We have a strong pricing policy that is published region wide so that all our customers equally benefit from our low prices. Our group injects a lot of time in understanding customers’ ever growing needs.

Through our products, we have generated a very strong reputation in quality and consistency for which we are very proud. The construction sector has grown and will continue to grow exponentially with an ever growing demand for housing, infrastructure and commercial development.

With Uganda’s population growth rate, the huge potential in export markets, infrastructural development, and the development of the oil and gas sector, we anticipate that the construction sector will double by 2019.

Our investments in capacity development, quality products and advanced laboratory equipment have been positioned as competitive and likely beneficiaries of the projected developments. Roofings is a long term investor in Uganda and I feel that the market and all stakeholders have acknowledged our strong commitment to their present and future needs.

What big projects does the group have in the pipeline?
First, we recently completed our investment in Roofings Rolling Mills Namanve, which was launched in 2013. This project is a backward integrated plant which now supplies Galvanised & colour coated roofing coils and galvanised wire coils to the downstream sheet forming market, in which Roofings Limited in Lubowa is also a player.

Our next project will be to utilise the iron ore in Uganda to make steel which will reduce the need to rely on scrap. This will ensure value addition, employment generation and import substitution, generated through backward integration, which will further improve the positive impact the steel industry has on Uganda’s economic growth.

About Roofings
Worth off plant. The plant is worth about Shs312 billion ($124 million). It is funded by a consortium of bankers and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Employees. It directly employs 2,250 people and indirectly employs many more.