He is not yet 50 years old but is already one of the people who are no longer presented on the continent. Youthful face and calm voice, Gagan Gupta, the boss of Arise, has established himself as the champion of the industrialization of Africa. Arrived at the age of 33 in Gabon to manage the local subsidiary of the Olam group, the entrepreneur native of Rajasthan quickly proved himself, gaining the stripe within the giant of the trading of raw materials controlled by the fonds Singaporean ruler Temasek.
In 2010, still in Gabon, he was the architect of the launch of the special economic zone (SEZ) of Nkok, an industrial park of more than 1,000 hectares on the outskirts of Libreville including a unit specializing in wood processing. This concept of industrial and logistics zone should make it possible to meet the challenge of creating local added value and jobs.
Infrastructure: the Gabonese tour de force of Gagan Gupta
To carry it, Gagan Gupta created Arise, a group made up of three entities: Arise IIP, which actually develops the platforms within the framework of public-private partnerships; Arise IS, which specializes in infrastructure and has Libreville and Nouakchott airports in its portfolio; Arise Ports & Logistics, a port operator whose management has been entrusted to the British Andrew Dawes. If Olam was one of the two reference shareholders of Arise with Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), it withdrew in February 2021, handing over to ATIF (Africa Transformation and Industrialization Fund), an investment fund based in Abu Dhabi and created by members of the management of Arise, including Gagan Gupta.
This change has not dampened the enthusiasm of Arise, which has recently multiplied the announcements of the launch of ZES despite the questions that this type of platform raises. For its designer, whom he met in mid-June on the sidelines of the Africa CEO Forum (organized by Capcov Media Group), these zones constitute an effective solution to put an end to dependence on imports and to develop an African industrial fabric.
Capcov: Since the launch of the first SEZ of Arise IIP on the continent, in Gabon, announcements of creation are flourishing. What are your ambitions ?
Gagan Gupta : We want to multiply these areas. We are already present in four countries: Gabon, Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast. Our objective is to double this number by the end of 2022, by adding four countries to this list: Congo, for which formalization took place at the beginning of June, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Senegal and Rwanda. In the next two or three years, we are targeting another four to five more countries, including Nigeria and Ghana.
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