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Continuing its expansion across Africa, Regus will open its first centre in Gabon later this year
Continuing its expansion in the continent, Regus will soon add a 21st African country to its roster – Gabon, which sits on the Atlantic coast and has a population of just over two million people.
As a French-speaking country surrounded by English-speaking countries, it is an untapped resource for continent-wide expansion for many French-speaking African nations, says Tarek Abou-Zeinab, Regus country manager for Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal and now Gabon.
“It is very far from what we usually refer to as West Africa. Now our presence there will grow our network in the continent,” he explains. “We will be opening in September or October in this year in the capital Libreville in a great location downtown.”
For existing Regus customers, it will provide an easily accessible base to begin operations in Gabon. “A Regus member anywhere in the world can come here, and use this spot,” adds Abou-Zeinab. “I will be heading there at the beginning of August to view the final touches of the centre, and to have two to three interviews for new tenants.”
So what kind of businesses have been showing interest?
“The businesses so far have been mainly multinational companies,” he says. “They are looking to have a hub in Libreville, and I will soon be heading to a real-estate event in Gabon to see what the opportunities are for us.”
Crucially, adds Abou-Zeinab, Regus will not simply be providing more of the same. Offices already exist in Libreville, of course, but the Regus approach will be something fairly revolutionary for the country. “It’s important to keep in mind that it will be the first solution for serviced offices in Libreville,” says Abou-Zeinab. “Previously, they used to have only conventional space. Flexible working is something brand new. It’s been very exciting for me to be present there.”
Flexible working will be introduced to Gabon. Companies looking to globalise will move in and bring their existing approaches to the country, and of course local businesses of any size will also populate the offices and pick up the benefits of serviced office space.
It’s nothing new for Abou-Zeinab, who has overseen the spread of Regus’s popularity across North Africa already. “We are in West Africa, we deal with the currency, we know the situation,” he says. “We also have partners inside Gabon that will support us. They are on the ground and can help us in that respect. The challenges are becoming less and less. Before we enter any country, we study it very well. And we’ve picked a good partner who will be able to advise us where the challenges might be.”
So far, enterprises as large as Siemens and IBM have showed a high level of interest in taking a space in the new centre, and Abou-Zeinab has in fact found it relatively easy to introduce Regus to Gabon.
“It has not been difficult,” he explains. “We offer a flexible solution for any enterprise, and any entrepreneur. We have such a high rate of customer satisfaction – we provide an excellent customer service for our clients, in terms of secondary service and in terms of the IT infrastructure. Most of the multinational companies choose us due to our huge investment in IT because, for a lot of them, the most important thing is their security.”
It is, in fact, only the newness of the concept of flexible working that will take time to spread. But as multinationals and expanding SMEs begin to populate the centre, it’s only a matter of time until more ambitious Libreville businesses flood in, says Abou-Zeinab. “Whenever it’s a new concept, the only challenge is to bring people in order for them to view the location, and to explain to them that we can overcome any challenge with our area managers and the sales team on the ground,” he explains.
It’s a very exciting time for Abou-Zeinab and his team, who are overseeing the opening of the new centre later this year. Then, he says, it may be time to expand further: “We will start with this one Gabon location, and we will look in six months to a year’s time at how the business is going, and we will move forward based on the demand and the country itself.”
Are you looking to expand your business in Gabon? Regus could be the solution