In a particular singular time the whole World is currently going through, we were fortunate to catch with Hadyr Koumakpai, Africa Sales Director of JA Solar, one of the top tier 1 module manufacturers in the industry.
We have covered:
- Importance of Africa Market for JA Solar
- Impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak for JA Solar and the industry
- The consequences on the daily routine
- The advice for the industry on how to better mitigate the consequences.
You can listen to the interview HERE.
RiA (Q1): So good morning everybody. So good afternoon for people that join us ahead of us. So we are here today talking to Mr. Hadyr Koumakpai, the Sales Director of JA Solar Manufacturer. And we’re going to have a pretty interesting topic I would say. So talking about the business for sure, but also the impact that the current Corona virus is having in the industry in particular as well on JA solar. Mr Hadyr, so good morning it’s a pleasure to be talking to you today.
HK (A1): Good morning Tony. Pleasure talking to you.
RiA (Q2): Excellent, excellent So now before we dive in into the thick of the subject, could you please introduce yourself but also your wonderful company? JA Solar, please?
HK (A2): Well my name is Hadyr Adebayo Koumakpai. I have been working the solar industry for about close to 10 years now and mainly looking at Africa as a market. And I’m working for JA Solar as Sales director Africa. Talking about JA Solar the company has been established since 2005. And we had been operating let’s say more than 15 years now, and we have about 20 branches all over the world. And we have been supplying all the top products and advanced products in the market. We own a lot technologies such as facial. We own a lot of patents as well. And I mean the company had done quite great for two years now. We have been number two global market share and in we are also represented in Africa so far.
RiA (Q3): Okay. It looks like you have a tremendous track record and we’re very pleased to have you today. So how important would you say is the African market for JA Solar?
HK (A3): Well I should say that JA Solar has been supplying technology in Africa for numbers of years now if we look at our total shipment in Africa, I feel we should be our idea above its own 800 megawatts. And for the company Africa is very a key market. It says that we notice that is there is a lot of countries with various sales challenges of power generations. And a lot of countries consuming fossil fuels and also, I mean that’s just the impact the environment. And recently we have noticed a lot of interest in solar and also I think that this year in 2020 the company has put a separate department for Africa which I’m the one managing and also given a lot of support. And we are actually recruiting about four workers in Africa this year and I think for the company, Africa is still a market that we want to focus in.
RiA (Q4): Excellent. Those are good news to hear. So four people, so people, listening to us wanting to apply, by all means they should go and reach out to your HR team. Now being one of the top solar PV manufacturers and the Chinese are a company with 12 manufacturing branches and 20 branches overall, I believe overall. So I was wondering how you currently dealing with a topic or let’s say and a global issue that the world is facing a health issue, which is the pandemics some would say, I’m talking about the current coronavirus crisis. So how is it affecting you?
HK (A4): Well, I mean, you should know that the Chinese authorities obviously have taken a let’s say, serious measures to prevent the spread of the virus and also that has create a lot of shutdowns of factories and also some industrial I mean all the industrial sectors are impacted. So far, you know, they, something as very serious as well as the fact that some factories are not operating, you also have the month forces because you should remember that corona virus, I mean the big news started during the Chinese new year when all the main workforce are in the provinces. So, and after that there was no train. So it was very difficult for people to come back in the city or come back to work. Up to date. I mean a lot of people still work from home and even though as JA we have a manufacturer spread across China, obviously we have some who are still joining and some which are maybe not joining 100%, but again what is more important here is the fact that manufacturer wise is not the only problem. There is also a serious problem into the transportation and logistics.
RiA (Q5): Excellent. So it’s important to understand the widespread impact that obviously the crisis is having for the industry and the society at large. How would you say your daily routine or daily routine activities of the company have been impacted? You’ve given us a bit of information about that, but can you tell us a little bit more?
HK (A5): Yeah, look the fact that already worker are working from home has changed a lot of habits. Usually, I mean you get the workers working close to each other’s so they can talk and solve problems immediately. Or, you can just call or go to go to the factory or you can just go to the office of the logistic company and sort your issue, I mean, in less than one day but today everything has changed. Even if you go for instance to your logistics companies offices, they are not there. So if you need to send for instance some documentation for DHL or maybe through the Chinese DHL you cannot do that easily. So that’s a serious issue so far and obviously on the routine wise we need to consider all that and obviously that will impact the shipping time. It impacts a lot of things and nowadays, I mean some customers try also to understand because again, this situation came all of a sudden so we all trying to adapt to it to avoid the spread of the virus.
RiA (Q6): Okay. And those impacts that you’ve mentioned so they concerned JA solar, but I suspect as well that they will also be tapping into the global industry. According to you. What is the global impacts you are seeing for the solar market?
HK (A6): Yeah, I mean I’ve seen something written in by PV info. If you look at that information link according to them the coronavirus actually has a affected, a lot of shipping, and cause delays in a lot of projects in China. And you know, the fact that, I mean, the projects which have been planned for Q1 now have been postponed to Q2-Q3 and I really believe that Q23-Q3 might happen otherwise If the, spread keep going, it might cause further delay again. Something else that you need to consider is the fact that some factories have stopped and that’s definitely has provoked let’s say less production in the market. And also obviously has also provoked some shortages of goods in the global industry. I believe that is not only related to the solar panels but the entire industrial in the whole and even other industries such as the car industry has been impacted. Still, we really believe the first target for 2020 according to the expected sales volume, we still can keep it and the previsions still remain the same. I got into our targets for this year and I believe this will be the same for all the solar module manufacturers.
RiA (Q7): And that’s impressive because This is a very serious crisis. But if you keeping your target, it means that you know how to recover. That brings me to ask you the question. How can the industry react to mitigate the impact of this health scare?
HK (A7): Well one thing which is important is what is the prevention and given the fact that all the China major suppliers solar modules or any other industry are impacted. We are trying our best to find a way to go around it. Obviously the fact that we have also some measures taken by the government. We are trying to adopt also to it And that adaptation obviously will require people to be more careful and to try to find a way to work without spreading the virus. I believe if each company has the way of addressing that issue and I believe that the industry is mature enough and they might follow the regulation put in place by the China authorities and so far it’s supposed to be fine.
RiA (Q8): Okay. Okay. One thing that we learned, which is quite impressive is that China has built a hospital in 10 days. So which would need obviously fast power to function. And I was actually wondering how can the solar market exploit such opportunities?
HK (A8): Well, you know, when we are facing epidemic or pandemic some people might say we feel that the best way a company like JA Solar, like our type of companies. What does you think of, first of all is the, let’s say, the social responsibility and how to feed back the society. I think it’s better to take about how we can support them than how we can make it be a business opportunity. Obviously if there is any demand in terms of power, we might also be happy to supply it maybe still in terms of social responsibilities as businesses and saying that, let me just also come up to the fact that on 25th, January, just after a few days of the, corona virus issue, our company has decided to give close to 10 million Yuan to Wuhan authorities, which basically about USD 1.5 million in terms of support. So for us obviously a company need to make profits, but we believe also that we have a serious obligation towards the society.
RiA (Q9): That’s very nice to hear. That sense of responsibility that your company JA Solar, is having toward the society. What advice, and that’s my last question. What advice would you give to other manufacturers and industry at large at this particular moment?
HK (A9): I think the industry should be confident. Both global demand as well as for Chinese demand for international Chinese based companies that should be very confident because again, this the Corona virus outbreak obviously is a challenging time, but we need more positive mind; and we believe that 2020, we’d be a great year of development. Despite the challenge, we just need to be more positive and try to also take all the measures to have wide out the coronal virus and also communicate to all the workers the right way to address it and also shared the updated information to the customer so that at least everybody should be on the same page.
RiA (Q10): Whoa. On this very up beating, uplifting words. So I just have to say, Mr Hadyr Koumakpai Sales Director JA Solar for Africa. It was a good pleasure for us to talk to you today at renewables in Africa. We’ve learned a lot how you dealing with the crisis. Definitely. We believe that we will be sharing this good message with our listeners and they will also learn from you. So thank you very much for your time and hopefully we will catch up with you at another time.
HK (A10): Thank you so much, Tony, and pleasure talking to you today. Thank you.
RiA: Appreciate that. Thank you.
Listen to the interview HERE.