On February the 22nd, we caught up with Africa Plantation Capital C.E.O and MD of AVAKON, Eng. Kosta Kioleoglou at his office in Nairobi and talked about Blue economy, his new venture Avakon and his future plans. In his interview with Erick Madisson, Eng. Kosta provides an overview of Avakon, its products and discusses future growth opportunities. He also outlines the company’s key competitive advantages.
Who is Avakon?
Avakon is the vehicle to bring top of the range engineering, development and construction related brands in the East Africa Region. With an extensive background in the field, we decided to bring to the region unique solutions that we believe are missing from the market. Avakon is now representing three top brands from three different sectors.
What are the current brands that Avakon is representing?
We are associated and representing Klaus Multi-parking covering the sector of smart parking solutions, Cockpit which provides some of the best smart house solutions and Rogan Associates one of the top European consulting engineering companies with extensive experience and expertise in Port infrastructure – development and maritime transport as well as transport planning, highway and intersection design, road safety studies, railroad and railways stations design, transport generated environmental Impact Studies and Urban and architectural planning.
Could you give us a quick brief on these companies and what you have to offer?
Klaus multi-parking, the German giant and one of the leading companies internationally providing smart park solutions is one of the brands that Avakon is proud to introduce to the East Africa Market starting from Kenya. With a proven history of over 100 years, Klaus introduced its first car parking in 1964. Today Klaus Multi-parking is one of the leading manufacturers of parking systems in the world for over 50 years. With its Headquarters in Germany and representatives in over 65 countries worldwide Klauss is now offering the same solutions to the East Africa Market via Avakon. The company offers a wide range of parking solutions with hundreds of fully or semi-automated parking spaces for simple houses to more complex structures.
Cockpit is offering state of the art remote home management solutions. An easy to install and operate solution covering the needs of every 21st century user. Just a few years ago smartphones and tablets were considered a luxury but today, almost everyone has one. Similarly, intelligent home management will cease to be a privilege for the few and will become an indispensable tool to ease our daily routine. Cockpit is a smart and simple system that enables you to control your home from anywhere in the world, using one intuitive app on your smartphone. Smart home used to be an expensive solution for the few. With Cockpit, this option has never been so accessible. We believe that in a very short time cockpit will be part of every new development and will be installed by many existing house owners.
Finally our property consulting, engineering and development background was the foundation for our association with Rogan Associates. Since 2013 I have been monitoring the developments of the property market as well as the infrastructure development of Kenya. A lot has been done so far and a lot more is going to happen in the near future. Apart from the significant traditional infrastructure projects in the mainland there is a lot of potential in the coastal region of Kenya targeting the blue economy opportunities. The blue economy aims to move beyond business as usual, to consider economic development and ocean health as compatible propositions. Blue economy is ideal for a long-term strategy aimed at supporting sustainable and equitable economic growth through oceans-related sectors and activities such as tourism, fisheries, renewable energy, and maritime transport. Kenya has started prioritizing the blue economy as the seventh sector to drive the achievement of Vision 2030 development agenda.
It is obvious that Blue Economy will play a key role and attract a lot of local and international interests in the coming years. Several companies are now taking a position in order to play a part in the country’s big plans for the development of a sustainable blue economy. Today, Avakon, representing Rogan Associates in the region is ready to provide top of the range engineering consultancy on infrastructure projects and Blue Economy related projects.
So what is exactly Avakon’s expertise regarding engineering?
We have been working on this with Rogan Associates since 2016. This collaboration combines decades of experience and expertise worldwide, covering all the fields of waterfront development, sea transportation, port operation and management, coastal engineering, maritime and harbor works, transport planning, environmental studies, macroeconomic analysis and planning, economic development strategies and measures, investment opportunities and portfolio planning, regional and urban analysis and planning, as well as port strategy at regional, national and international level.
Ranking as one of the top Engineering Consultancy Companies in Europe specialized in Waterfront and Port infrastructure-development, as well as in Maritime Transport, ROGAN ASSOCIATES has been offering these services all over the world for the last 40 years. It is our privilege to represent ROGAN in the East Africa Region .
Our aim is to provide the required technical know-how and innovation to support Kenya’s plans to foster and develop sustainable blue economy. We believe that Kenya is now ready to develop the blue economy as one of the most crucial sectors to drive the achievement of Vision 2030 development agenda, and we are ready to offer as much support as required towards this direction.
Mr. Kioleoglou, since 2013, you have achieved several goals and worked in different sectors of the economy. What made you to decide to make this new start?
It is true that since I came to Kenya back in 2013 as the director of engineering and property appraisal for an international property consultancy company, I was privileged to achieve almost every goal I had in my mind. In 2015, I was given the opportunity to introduce to the East Africa Region one of the leading agroforestry companies globally, APC group with the incorporation and ‘birth” of Africa Plantation Capital.
Although this venture seemed to be outside my field of expertise, it is directly related with land acquisition, project development and management which are some of my fields of expertise. We started small and today Africa Plantation capital is one of the leading plantation management companies in the East African region, awarded twice by the Kenya National Chamber of commerce and industry (KNCCi) as the “new business of the year, 2016 and Best Agribusiness Company, 2017.
Over the last two years, we have managed to grow to where we are today. We are operating five offices, 6 nurseries several hundred acres of plantations, with over 120 personnel and over two hundred casual workers. I am happy to be surrounded by a great management team, all of them Kenyans who I believe are capable enough to continue running the company on its successful course.
This is what gave me the idea to start something new. I always like to look for new challenges and opportunities. Together with Engineer Dr. Christos Solomonidis, we saw this opportunity on the blue economy back in 2016 and almost two years later, I am ready to start this new journey with Avakon. I believe that there is a huge gap in the market for anyone who wants to provide high-quality services and products. This is what Avakon is about. Today with Klaus, Cockpit and Rogan and in the near future with more brands, we will bring innovation and unique opportunities to the East Africa region . We are already setting up Avakon Uganda as we expand our operations within the region which will be proceeded with acquisition of several pieces of land in the path of growth of the capital. Ideally, our focus is in the area between Entebbe and Kampala where we will offer ready to build plots inside a state of the art gated community with a selection of European designed house plans. This will offer unique surroundings, security and a well planned urban outlook. Avakon’s land projects will bring in a new way to invest in Uganda’s property market.
So, are you planning to withdraw from Africa Plantation Capital?
No, this is not part of my plans, at least not for now. APC remains one of my main priorities. I am just going to have to work a bit harder to build up together with my associates a new brand in the region. Although it might sound difficult, I am ready to face this challenge and make it happen.
Kosta Kioleoglou was Interviewed by Erick Madisson on February the 22nd 2018