Dec 2023 – Feb 2024
Born and raised in Senegal, Mohamed has two siblings and was born between them, i.e. he is the middle child of his parents. He is happily married and a father to two young children.
Mohamed is currently the Managing Director (MD) of NOVAGO, Senegal, a long term vehicle leasing company.
He previously went to France to study for a bachelor’s in ‘Business Admin, Management and Finance at BEM in Bordeaux before going on to study for a masters’ at Montpellier Business School. He has dual experience at multinationals/SMEs.
AGN; How did you secure your current role as MD of NOVAGO, Senegal and what attracted you to this company?
ML; After completing my studies in France and while I was working at Renault/Volvo Trucks there, my desire was to return to Africa as I could see the vast potential the continent holds.
I looked for jobs on the continent and one of the biggest dealers of Renault/Volvo Trucks, i.e. GBH Group offered me a job as Sales Director in Ghana for new and used Renault trucks. I was employed in that role for 4 years where I was responsible for 3 branches.
While at GBH Group the role of MD at NOVAGO came to light. I was eventually successful in my application.
The role appealed at the time because it enabled me to continue working in the same sector, it would enable me to grow as a person by undertaking a more senior role and it would enable me return to my country.
AGN; What do you miss most about France?
ML; I would say the discipline and rigour with which things are done there is something I miss. It is not lacking here but I feel we don’t tend to apply ourselves to a similar extent across the board in Africa.
AGN; What key duties do you undertake within your role?
ML; The MD shoulders the main responsibility for everything associated with the company. Responsibility to team members, shareholders (if applicable), group members (if applicable) and all other stakeholders.
Monitoring and managing relationships with partners and stakeholders is also a key part of the role. Ensuring performance is optimised is also very important. I am involved in all of these things.
AGN; Renewable energy is increasingly being utilized for work, rest and play. How important is utilizing renewable energy at NOVAGO and can you highlight anything that demonstrates your commitment to its usage?
ML; We provide mobility solutions. Increasingly at NOVAGO we are pushing electric vehicles as a solution. A number of multinationals and even smaller companies have strategies to use less carbon fuelled vehicles.
NOVAGO is seeking to meet this demand by providing electric vehicles. While we are aware of the changes happening elsewhere we are not waiting on others to lead the charge but are proactively offering electric vehicles and also providing charging solutions to facilitate their usage and widen their appeal.
AGN; There remains an infrastructure deficit across large parts of Africa. Good roads, refuelling stations be that for petrol, diesel or solar recharging points are not always as plentiful as may be desired. It is of course understood that a deficit of solar recharging points is not particular to Africa.
What comments do you have to make about how the gap could be bridged more effectively in Africa?
ML; We need to compare what is comparable. If we were to look at South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and so on in Asia, the GDP of such countries in the 1960s was similar to a number African countries, but now such Asian countries as a result of achieving phenomenal growth are helping countries across the African continent. We need to look more closely at what they did right in comparison to ourselves.
In terms of transportation in general, a multifaceted approach is required to deliver a more effective, efficient and affordable means to enable people and goods to move more easily. Metro/underground trains, trams, electric buses and an expanded train network are part of the solution.
With regards to electric vehicles (EVs), providing domestic recharging solutions to those who purchase these vehicles is an interim step. As mentioned earlier, that is something we offer at NOVAGO. Petrol companies are taking steps to install recharging points in refuelling stations and of course one needs the government to take a lead in developing infrastructure on a national level.
AGN; How would you say Senegal compares to other African countries?
ML; Senegal is a peaceful and cosmopolitian country. It is not always evident to outsiders that we are quite cosmopolitian but the reality is that we are. There are only around 20 different ethnic groups here and we are quite multicultural in some ways. Senegal is a melting pot of diverse cultures, reflected in its vibrant music, dance and traditions. The cultural richness here creates a unique and welcoming environment.
AGN; What would you say are Senegal’s USP’s?
ML; Senegal is a very stable country. It is easy to establish a company here in comparison to some other countries on the continent. It has a sizeable population of well-educated/ trained people so finding staff here is not difficult.
Senegal has demonstrated consistent economic stability, fostering an environment conducive to business growth.The country’s commitment to
economic development is evident in its progressive policies and infrastructre investments.
The Country is also at the forefront of sustainable energy efforts and has embraced renawable energy projects, showcasing a commitment to environmental responsability by creating opportunities for clean energy.
Last but not least, Senegal has a dynamic tourism sector. The potential is huge from the bustling markets of Dakar, to the serene landscapes of
Casamance, Senegal offers a diverse range for tourists to experience.
In Dakar the temperature here is between 22 to 26 degrees from November to May while during the hotter months it is around 32 degrees. It doesn’t tend to rain that heavily here either.
AGN; Is there any one person you would say has been extremely pivotal in your upbringing and if so who is that and what can you share about them?
ML; It would be two people rather than just one and they are my mother and father. My father came from a family of modest means and his father died when he was 9 years old. He left his family aged 9 to move from Thies which is around 72 km east of Dakar to Saint Louis in the North of the country.
He applied himself and did well at school and went on to do well professionally. He instilled the values of hard-work and humility in me and my siblings and made us aware that we should never take things for granted irrespective of what level of success one may have achieved at the time as fortunes can change in an instance.
My mother had her own career but instead of seeking to advance herself to a senior level she compromised so she could spend more time with me and my siblings, especially since my father travelled a lot due to his job so he wasn’t always at home. My mother is a solutions oriented person and that aspect of her character has rubbed off on me in terms of how I handle problems or go about doing things.
I couldn’t conclude without mentioning my dear and loving wife, mother of my two children. She inspires and supports me at all times, even in career choices.
AGN; Do you have a talent or skill that very few people know about?
ML; I like drawing and while I don’t do it a lot I don’t think I am bad at it.
AGN; How do you like to unwind?
ML; I go to the gym 2 to 3 times a week to keep myself in reasonable shape. I also like to travel with the family for recreational purposes once or twice a year and I also enjoy going to restaurants when I can.
AGN; Is there anything else you would like to add?
ML; Not at this juncture.
Previous ‘Personal Profile’ interviews are available here; archive
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on behalf of African Global Networks (AGN) - Dec 2023