Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman is a self-declared Afro optimist: "I am more optimistic about Africa than I have ever been in my career," he tells Engineering News.
"Africa has changed greatly." Africa has seen a mining- and energy-driven recovery, which has had the domino effect of an increase in disposable income, which will, in turn, require an increase in foreign direct investment. Africa has a "huge population" that wants "to live better", Oberhelman says.
Caterpillar is considering the development of an African manufacturing plant. "We are looking to make an investment in Africa," The 37-year company veteran says. The envisioned facility will manufacture mining capital, energy, and construction-related equipment, with specialised mining equipment production remaining at the company's existing manufacturing sites. He stressed, however, that this will not happen within the next two to three years.
Looking globally, Oberhelman says that population growth worldwide resulted in a consumer base that requires infrastructure and consumable commodities - all of which suits the Caterpillar brand. "Every time a road goes in, or an airport, we want to be there," he said. In May, Barloworld, the South African Caterpillar dealer, opened a R250-million remanufacturing centre in Boksburg, which has the capacity to rebuild capital equipment components for customers in the mining and infrastructure sectors, Engineering News says.