Wilhelmsen Ships Services (WSS) has opened a new branch in the Ivory Coast, and will be operating in the busiest port in the region.
Initially focused on providing agency services to customers, operating both in Abidjan and the port of San Pedro, WSS’s newly assembled team has hit the ground running after just a few short weeks of trading, successfully completing a number of port calls.
Supported by WSS’s North and West African management in Port de Bouc, France, the team in Abidjan is led by Rodrigue Alia. With a wealth of international and regional maritime and logistics experience, along with an MBA in Transport and Logistics from the Bordeaux Ecole de Management, Rodrigue heads up a team armed with decades of shipping industry experience.
“Building upon the almost instant success of our first foothold in West Africa, in Dakar, Senegal, which we opened just two years ago, this latest venture is the next step in the ongoing expansion of our operations in the region,” says Bård Bjørløw, WSS Regional Vice President Europe, who oversees West African operations.
As the world’s largest producer of cocoa, a major exporter of minerals, such as manganese and zinc and the key transit point for its landlocked neighbours to the north, the Ivory Coast’s ever-expanding ports are one of the key components in the entire region’s impressive economic growth.
“We see West Africa as an opportunity, like everyone else. When we talk to our customers, they want us there and they want us to expand further.”
However, despite the considerable opportunities offered across the region, setting up a new office, or working with hitherto unknown service providers and sub-agents can be difficult, time consuming and often fraught with potential problems.
“So, simplicity of set-up, coupled with the elimination of this risk are key drivers in WSS’s strategy of cautious steady expansion in the region,” says Bjørløw.
“Finding a suitable partner, who shares our company values and our governance is really difficult. So, we have to find the countries that are viable for us. One of them is Ivory Coast,” Bjørløw adds.