Caterpillar equipment supplied by Barloworld for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project in South Af

Caterpillar equipment supplied by Barloworld for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project in South Africa.

The executive director of the Cat dealership in southern Africa has called the continent a rental market of the future as this year’s Bauma Conexpo Africa got underway in Johannesburg.

Barloworld Industries covers 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the company’s Shane Fitzpatrick believes that in rental terms, Africa’s time has come.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “New countries like Zambia are moving into rental, which is the result of an education process for us. Half of our customers are new and we are seeing younger entrepreneurs become customers. There is more call for predictive maintenance and customers are realising that operator efficiency is the key to utilisation and resale.”

Barloworld has been established in Africa for more than 100 years , and its links to Cat go back to 1927. Its rental fleet covers around 800 units of equipment, ranging for large trucks to skid steers, with a total value of US$250 million (€225 million).

It offers a range of rental options starting from three months, as well as new and used equipment.

Mr Fitzpatrick said the majority of the company’s rental revenue comes from mining and construction.

In terms of mining, Mr Fitzpatrick said that the diversity of countries and currencies that the company deals with across its African customer base means it is less affected that it would be if it was operating in Australia, for example.

“Our advantage is that we can move from diamonds to gold to copper. We don’t have the same highs and lows. And even when the mines are down, people still need to maintain the equipment, so the parts and service business is still good.

“But it’s not just about mining. We are increasing our earthmoving presence with some very good agricultural customers as well.

“If you have the nerve to do business in Africa, it can be worthwhile.”

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