In 2016, RA International formulated a strategy to enter the mining industry. How has this plan progressed?

TS: Our business is deeply rooted in our DNA, and we remain committed to it. However, about a year and a half ago, we made the decision to expand into the mining industry and infrastructure development. While these sectors are growing, humanitarian projects still contribute about 50% of our revenue. We specialize in operating in environments characterized by rapid changes in threat levels, minimal infrastructure, and limited third-party support. We excel in challenging environments where local suppliers and subcontractors are scarce, making it difficult to obtain equipment and materials. Our management approach, policies, and procedures are tailored to operate effectively within these parameters.

SN: Currently, RA International has a significant presence in Tamale, Ghana, and in Central Africa, including Kenya, South Sudan, and North Sudan. We have observed increased activity in the Ethiopia and Eritrea region due to political changes, leading to expanded operations in both countries, especially in the mining industry.

Training can be a significant challenge in the mining industry, especially with the introduction of new technologies. What is RA International’s approach to training in the mining industry?

SN: RA International assesses the local skills available and identifies any skills gaps. We then match the required skills with the available workforce. Over the years, we have maintained a strong focus on local content development. In our current operations in Somalia, we have achieved a local content percentage of 45%, and in the Central African Republic, our operations boast a 92% local content, including 22% female participation in the construction industry as of August 2018. We have successfully strengthened local content development by training and empowering local employees to be actively involved in operations. Our training emphasizes not only the acquisition of new skills but also their practical application to improve productivity, both on-site and in daily life. We also ensure that employees understand the end results of their work, enabling them to see the value of their contributions.

RA International also demonstrates its commitment to local content development by offering higher initial compensation than the local market rates. We pay employees not based on their current skills but on their potential after training. These efforts, along with our focus on corporate social responsibility and adherence to the principles of the UN Global Compact, have allowed us to align our operations with universal principles on human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.

TS: Operating in high-risk areas necessitates involving the local community. We consider corporate social responsibility a top priority and actively participate in the UN Global Compact. We sponsor local businesses, provide mentorship to local subcontractors, and ensure that everyone who interacts with us benefits from the relationship. Additionally, we contribute to healthcare by donating to clinics, support education by building schools, and are involved in anti-prostitution initiatives.

With RA International’s unique background in operating in high-risk areas, how does the competition in remote site services in Africa compare?

TS: While there is competition, our broad range of services sets us apart. RA International doesn’t solely focus on catering or construction but offers a comprehensive spectrum, including construction, maintenance, operation, and life support services. Life support services encompass catering, cleaning, laundry, pest control, and logistics. Another distinguishing factor is our background in peacekeeping and humanitarian projects, which has honed our ability to mobilize rapidly. If a company requires personnel on the ground within a few days, we can deliver. With a multicultural workforce of 2,500 individuals, we can swiftly handle logistics such as shipping goods to remote locations like the Central African Republic, accomplishing it in half the time it would take the UN.

SN: We invest in our customers and our employees to gain a deep understanding of the local landscape, including language, culture, politics, logistics, and weather. This knowledge allows us to provide valuable insights and credible answers to our customers’ questions. We can also identify potential difficulties in advance, enabling proactive preparation and avoiding challenges during operations. Particularly within the mining industry, we recognize the importance of thorough preparation and aim to cover all bases beforehand.

What are RA International’s priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?

SN: RA International is currently undergoing a restructuring process to optimize our services and operations. This restructuring will facilitate company and portfolio expansion, ensuring that we have the necessary resources, systems, compliances, and capabilities to deliver the best possible services to our clients.

We currently have substantial ongoing operations in Oman, Somalia, Kenya, and South Sudan. Given our current position, we have the capacity to add more projects to our portfolio in additional countries. In the near future, RA International is considering projects in West Africa, with preliminary research already underway in countries such as Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire. Our primary objective is to identify opportunities where we can add value to local operations and industries.

TS: We are in the process of expanding into the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal, but our schedule has been quite busy. Over the past five years, we have experienced excellent revenue growth, and since July this year, we are listed on the London Stock Exchange. Being a public company will facilitate capital raising and further enhance our prospects for success.

As a public entity, our strategy is to diversify even more. We aim to increase our presence in the oil and gas/mining sectors and focus on infrastructure development projects. These projects are often funded by governments or international aid organizations. Ultimately, we aspire to cover the entire African continent. Although we are not operating everywhere at the moment, our existing bases across different countries provide us with the reach to serve the entire continent.

Do you have a final message for the mining sector regarding working with RA International?

SN: RA International is a dynamic and ambitious company driven by a strong sense of purpose. With our comprehensive range of services, we have the unique capability to address all non-core requirements for our clients, from initial exploration to full-scale production and beyond. Integrated camp management services in today’s demanding mining environment have become increasingly complex, especially for long-term camps. We offer a single point of contact for our clients, ensuring the provision of services such as health and welfare programs, pest and vector control programs, and recreational facilities.

Our specialist mining contractors effectively handle the transportation of mining and plant-related equipment and materials to the site. Our well-established network of suppliers and logistics partners ensures reliable procurement and delivery. This is where RA International can truly make a difference. We have successfully delivered over US$450 million worth of projects in hostile conflict areas, demonstrating our ability to deliver even under challenging circumstances.

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