Alba 'remains focused on growth'
Manama, January 13, 2010
Aluminum Bahrain (Alba) has taken concrete steps in addressing the threats posed by the economic crisis, and remains focused on continued growth, said its chairman Mahmood Hashim Kooheji.
Kooheji was speaking at the 'Gulf Industry Forum,' held on the sidelines of region's key industrial event Gulf Industry Fair in Bahrain.
“We are at a key moment in history after having experienced probably one of the worst economic crisis in recent times. The possibilities of recovery are very much in evidence but depend upon the speed and quality of structural reforms,” he remarked.
He detailed on how Alba carved out a pivotal role for itself in the Kingdom’s industrialisation drive.
“The story of Alba follows this trajectory since the company’s formation spurred the growth of aluminium industry in Bahrain as well as served as a pioneer in industrial diversification in the region,” Kooheji said.
Alba’s inception was the first ever non-oil industrial initiative in the region, and marked the beginning of the economic diversification in the Gulf. When it began operations in 1971, Alba was the first ever aluminium smelter in the entire region and held this position for nearly a decade.
Currently, Kooheji said, there are seven main companies in the downstream sector, and more than 500 small to medium scale enterprises.
Lauding the visionary leadership, Kooheji said that the catalysts for growth can be found in bold policy initiatives and in the creation/ development of ‘springboards’ that stimulate economic activity.
"Today aluminium is Bahrain’s second major export after oil with total exports in 2008 accounting to nearly $19.17 billion and its contribution to the GDP is 12 per cent.," he added.
According to Kooheji, the challenge for all sectors and all economies was to examine one’s core competencies, streamline operations, focus on efficiencies, explore new markets, and remain growth oriented.
"The crisis presented a key opportunity for turning focus on one of the chief resources in any economy and any organisation, namely, the human resource," he said.
In early 2008, Kooheji recalled, the aluminium industry suffered a 60 per cent drop in prices in just six months. Alba had to make a choice: how to remain competitive in an industry that was going through one of its worst crisis?
A global consultancy was hired to do a performance review. Alba began to focus on operational efficiency, reduce excess costs, streamline operations and explore new markets.
“Management structure was right-sized to help achieve this goal. The idea was to have a less bloated structure that enables swifter decision making,” Kooheji pointed out.
The keyword was efficiency, and that was at the heart of Alba’s initiatives, he added.
Laying out the road ahead for Alba, Kooheji said that Alba will continue its commitment to the principles enshrined in Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030.
“The Economic Vision 2030 aims to lay the groundwork for economic growth that benefits people, an efficient and effective government, and a just and thriving society.
Welcoming the competition in the region, Alba chief said, "We believe it will benefit the entire region as a whole since it will turn the GCC into a force in the aluminium industry."
"The business friendly policies of the government and the foresight shown by the political leadership have been at the heart of Alba’s growth and success. Such inspiring springboards are essential for industries and economies to thrive and to succeed," he added.-TradeArabia News Service