Glass and aluminium are not the cornerstone of the construction and real estate sector, but they count as much, if not more
When Yasin Hassan talks about aluminium, he does so without any doubts or hesitation; 1.5 inches is a good quality, grade A. 1 inch is grade B. And when he talks about glass, he shines; Mogadishu currently uses a lot of blue glass, green glass and reflective glass; these are the terms that he talks in. He speaks glass and aluminium. He has to, for he is the man in charge of Al Musbax Aluminium Company. A family run business that was established in 1968 by his father and that he currently runs with his brothers.
With its staff of 78 dedicated workers and 8 members of the management team, the company not only suppliers aluminium and glass throughout Somalia, but also, they fabricate windows, doors, gates etc.
Al Musbax imports its aluminium and glass from Turkey, China and Dubai, ships the product into Somalia and sells wholesale the items to retailers, suppliers and directly to specific clients. The company supplies Mogadishu, Baidiowo and Kismayo with three main branches; in Sobaad (a warehouse and store), its biggest showroom- measuring 1800 square metres-in Mogadishu, and the third, also in Mogadishu.
He understands that as the real estate sector grows and the skyline of Mogadishu changes, so will the fortunes of businessmen in his line of work. But at the same time, he knows that the field is not as even as he would want it, and that he has to be wary of fake or cheap or counterfeit products in the market that have the potential of besmirching the name of his company.
“When you want to do business successfully and for long, you have to do the right thing. The quality of goods has to be high. I have a sticker on all products that come from my factory or from our stores. This is how our customers know that they are buying from us. China is not the problem. The problem is that we have some suppliers from Somalia who go to China and source for cheap and ineffective products,” he says.
The fact that the recent boom in the real estate and construction sectors has created opportunities for several other businessmen does not keep him awake during the night though.
He explains, “In 2016 and 2017, a lot of companies came up. This is good, even if it has crowded the market, since it shows that we are heading upwards. In aluminium and glass wholesale, the companies are not that too many, so I am not worried about competition. In fact, I don’t even advertise.”
Al Musbax is one of the most capable and strategically placed to handle certain types of clientele in Mogadishu. The company has a 5 year contract with the UN, supplying doors and windows to UN establishments all over Somalia. It has a deal with Qatar and UAE establishments in the country, to supply doors, windows and partitions. To add to these major clients, the company also has contracts with African Sky-a company that represent French, UK and American embassies. He supplies all their aluminium and glass needs.
In 2017, he ventured into the market of PVCs. The company makes and supplies PVC products. But that is not the only thing aside from glass-for windows and doors etc- and aluminium that the company dabbles in. They also sell accessories like door knobs, door handles, plywood, plastic glasses and UPV.
In his eyes, the market is great and the only direction the business can head to right now is upwards. Yasin knows why, “We are going up. The demand for wood and iron is going down. Aluminium is getting cheaper and its demand in Mogadishu will continue to rise.”
But the question of the cost of building products, especially those materials like aluminium that are imported, cannot be wished away easily. Not when every other real estate developer is decrying the high cost of construction brought about by the importation of materials.
“I know the situation and I understand the concerns of our buyers. It is true, out here, cost products is the one thing that gives industry stakeholders the most cause for worry. The prices that Al Musbax gives its customers and clients are competitive. They are not too high. That, I can assure you.”