SIMAT, Leader in Transport in Ivory Coast is ISO 9001:2008 Certified

Read more about the business opportunities in Ivory Coast, boom that is currently happening in Africa and ISO 9001:2008 Certification that SIMAT’s recently obtained – all in the interview with Stéphane Eholie.

SIMAT, Leader in Transport in Ivory Coast is ISO Certified

Stéphane Eholie, CEO of SIMAT – a logistics company in West Africa – accorded an exclusive interview for Boursorama – a leading European online financial services company. In the broad ranging interview Mr. Eholie highlighted the business opportunities in Ivory Coast, boom that is currently happening in Africa and ISO 9001:2008 Certification that SIMAT’s obtained – a proof that in Africa is able to cater for management and quality of services which are comparable to Europe and the US.


2012 has allowed us to reach almost full employment. 2013 needs to us grow in an external manner – and by external, I only mean within the region.

SIMAT is an Ivorian company that specialises in freight forwarding & handling. It is also the only company to be listed on Euronext with 100% Ivorian funds. Please tell us more about yourself. What is your job exactly and in which market does your business operate?

Before speaking about our activities, I would like to present SIMAT to you briefly. SIMAT was founded in May 2001. Since then, we have gone from 40 people to more than 250, not to mention that we have about 1000 day labourers. We are into consignment, forwarding, handling, storage, transportationexport and import. We are also into marine and air transportation. We are located in Abidjan, where there is a port and an airport.

San Pedro has the second port in Ivory Coast. SIMAT has all the clients, whether they are national or international. We are also very active in terms of inter-language activity, which includes operations with Burkina and Mali, both landlocked countries. This is very important, because it has an impact on all kinds of economies – especially national economies. Indeed, everything needs to go through the port. All in all, SIMAT is an auxiliary transportation company.

Why did you choose the Paris stock exchange to raise funds? I understand that you entered the stock exchange in December 2007…

Indeed. There are two reasons why I made that decision. As you might now, Ivory Coast went through an extremely difficult period as well as very acute crises. As a matter of fact, in transportation activities, there are two essential things to consider: insurance and banks.

Global trade is regulated by a certain amount of rules. Ivory Coast, from 2004 to 2006, was not a very interesting spot, where there were additional insurance premiums and where banks only wanted to work with companies that were already “out there”, although I prefer not to name them.

So in order to be more independent, you decided to try your hand in the stock exchange.

Actually, no, not even that. It wasn’t really to be independent. Only, we wanted to show the world that there were other companies that were capable of offering quality service. So our first and foremost objective was to get more people to know about us. There were different issues at hand, namely notoriety and respectability, which had to be there.

Fate, too, played a role in this story. At that time, Euronext was looking for other markets – it was already quite present in emerging markets such as China and India. It also had its eyes set on Africa. Therefore, it was a series of events that led me to enter the Paris stock exchange.

Today, we talk about globalization; I thought it was the right moment to show there were companies with Ivorian funds which we were just as able as others to compete in that sector.

Ivory Coast suffered from a terrible political crisis which turned into a civil war. How did SIMAT survive those events? What were the consequences on your activities?

I must admit that 2011 was extremely difficult for us. Still, there was a lot of stagnation for about six months, but then our business started again very well. We were able to retrieve about 90% of our losses during the first six months. The last six months have been quite positive for us.

You have begun moving forward again. You have just received an ISO certification; perhaps you could say a word or two about that to us.

We are proud of that certification. It is  ISO 9001:2008 certification related to the Quality Management Systems.


I always say this: Africa must not be seen as a place where there are pandemics, where the African civilian is aided and cannot contribute to development. This is all lies. I think that management and trade standards are the same in Africa as they are in Europe or in the rest of the world. I strongly believe that the next decade will be Africa’s.

At present, countries have double digit growth. Now is the time to invest in this continent. For us, who will always want to prove that we can do everything the way it’s done elsewhere, that we can have local management that follows modern management standards. This is why this certification means a lot to us.

This certification was done by a multinational that I will not name – let’s call it SGF. What matters is that this certification allows us to enter other markets because some of them require companies to have the certification. This gives us a quality label, but it might also give us opportunities to do business with future markets.

What is the outlook for growth? How can SIMAT grow surrounded by its competitors, like Bolloré? We did not talk about that, but what can interested investors expect of you for the coming year?

Things are going well with Bolloré. We both work intelligently on the market. I think that each one of us has its own niches, its own specialty business lines. I do not think that there is a problem and the proof is that actually, the market is neither competitive nor equal.

What is SIMAT’s future?

For us, 2012 must be a stabilizing year. We moved back a year since the crisis, so this year must allow us to go back to equilibrium. As for 2013, it must be a year of external growth. I am not saying this because I am Ivorian, but Ivory Coast is an important market, with more than 40% of the region during times of crisis. It could become 50% in a year. It must and can become better on all levels – primary, secondary and tertiary.

2012 has allowed us to reach almost full employment.

2013 needs to us grow in an external manner – and by external, I only mean within the region. We need to look for the potential of countries within the sub-region. And yet, I think, why not France tomorrow? France needs to understand its fundamental role as a partner to West Africa, whether by the weight of the past or by capacity to allow us to shine throughout the world.

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