Panalpina, one of the world’s largest freight and logistics companies, has opened its regional office in Nairobi to serve clients in the oil and gas industries in East Africa.
The listed Swiss firm with over 500 offices in more than 70 countries and a workforce of about 16,000 joins a growing list of firms setting up offices in Kenya to service the regional industry.
Panalpina said Kenya and Morocco, where it has opened another office to service the North African market, are part of its Africa expansion.
“With strong prospects in the two countries, especially in the energy and infrastructure sectors, establishing a formal presence is an important part of our long-term market growth and customer satisfaction objectives,” said Panalpina regional chief executive for the Middle East and Africa Peter Triebel in a statement.
The Nairobi office has already started operations and will be headed by Juergen Paliko to be joined by five other employees for starters. The air, land and sea logistics firm said it already has clients in the oil and the gas industry.
“We do not talk about specific clients, but yes we already do have some,” Panalpina corporate relations media manager Sandro Hofer told the Business Daily.
The company expects more business to come from the various mega infrastructure projects in the pipeline in Kenya.
“The construction of a mega port in the northern coastal city of Lamu also reinforces the need for on-the-ground support, as the building of roads, a rail link and a pipeline will soon be underway,” said Panalpina in a statement.
Other mega infrastructure projects include the standard gauge railway whose construction began on Monday and the expansion of Mombasa port which received a Sh25 billion loan from the Japanese government.
Kenya plans to construct 10,000 kilometres of tarmac road under the annuity programme. The Nairobi office will also be used to serve clients in other regions.
“With the Nairobi office in place, Panalpina is now able to take a more focused approach to cultivating local business and also trade lanes from the Middle East and Asia into Kenya,” said Mr Paliko.
The booming construction and the nascent oil and gas industries have been attracting international companies which are eyeing the billions going into exploration and construction work in the region.
“East Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Some estimate that there is up to $68 billion (Sh6.2 trillion) of projects under construction in the region, ranging from civil engineering and infrastructure to resource development,” said Atlas Development chief executive Carl Espry.
Tullow Oil is one of the companies serviced by Atlas. The UK-firm cross-listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) in December last year.
DVN Holding, a Hong Kong company associated with former Blackwater chief executive Erik Prince, bought a 49 per cent stake in Kijipwa Aviation, a Kilifi-based firm that transports staff to drilling and mining sites.
Local companies have not been left behind. KK Securities and TransCentury subsidiary Civicon are servicing geothermal, oil and gas companies in the region.