GE Global Growth Organisation President (pictured) and Chief Executive Alex Dimitef’s work entails overseeing the company’s operations in emerging markets. He was recently on a visit to Kenya and had a chat with Weekend Business. Excerpts:
How would you rate Kenya and the region generally in business environment?
When I first came to Africa in 2010, all the conversations were about how difficult it was to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa and how complicated it was to get things done. Fast forward to 2018 and all the conversations are about how exciting it is to do business on the continent; for instance, how rewarding it is to electrify parts of the region for the first time or deliver quality healthcare to communities that have never had it.
I believe that the governments have grown in sophistication. There are tremendous improvements, there is more predictability and less risk in terms of changes in policy environment, which is in turn attracting capital from all over the world.
What are some of the key projects that GE is involved in today?
There has been progress in developing skills both on the GE team but also for customers and partners. To date, over 1,000 healthcare professionals have been trained in different aspects.
We have also developed partnerships with universities across Africa that are aimed at growing training in healthcare including improving curriculum. With these initiatives, we are playing a part in developing the next generation of leaders across different sectors particularly power, healthcare, aviation and renewable energy, that will play critical roles in these economies.
GE have been part of implementing the Managed Equipment Service at various hospitals in Kenya. Has this been a value for money project?
In January 2015, we were selected by the Ministry of Health, among other firms, for the implementation of the MES project. Our role is to provide radiology infrastructure in 98 hospitals across the country. The results are speaking for themselves. As of 2018, Kenya has more than doubled the number of breast scans, there has been over 30 per cent reduction in the average cost of scans and significantly fewer patients are referred to other hospitals for radiology services because they have local access. Through this project, the healthcare story in Kenya is becoming tremendous and will get a lot better.
What would you say are the opportunities for GE in the Kenyan and regional market for global companies?
We see a wide variety of opportunities in different sectors. In addition to developing infrastructure, we can help develop local skills in the areas that GE excels. In Kenya, we are investing a lot more in energy and healthcare. We are very positive about the East African market.
What in your view is the biggest challenge that African markets face in developing infrastructure?
The developing world is facing a gap between demand for new infrastructure projects and ability to finance those projects. The challenge is to present projects that are structured in a way that they provide enough certainty to attract financing from across the world.