This month, we had an interesting conversation with Toni D’Andrea, the CEO of ISSA PULIRE NETWORK about his vision for the cleaning industry in the Middle East and Africa, the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the regions and how the industry can collectively progress.
- Tell us about your vision about the cleaning and hygiene industry in the Middle East and Africa.
I envision the Middle East and Africa as the two areas of the world where the cleaning industry will report the most relevant growth acceleration of the market in the next few years.
Cleaning is considered one of the six most important factors in the modernization of society. These two huge areas, the Middle East and Africa are rapidly moving forward to a profound change of habits and customs thus creating new and higher expectations.
There are interesting cases, big cities, in the Middle East like Dubai or Doha which have shown how possible it is to expand and develop in such a short time. This growth has generated interesting consequences . I had an honour in the previous years, to be a member of the jury of the MECHF Award. By evaluating their best practices and performances I can undoubtedly say that they have achieved the highest level of cleanness, reliability and safety standards possible. Something which is comparable with the most advanced countries in the world. I’m really impressed with such a deep transformation, which happened only in a few years. In these regions there is a forest to grow where today there is a prairie in these regions.
- What are the challenges facing the cleaning industry in these markets?
Cleanliness is a primary need. There is no organic growth, in a country or in a territory, if the cleaning does not play a key role. If I look at the growth forecast and global trends referring to these countries I can easily understand what a huge transformation should happen.
In the next 30 years the African population will more than double, passing from 1,1 to 2,3 billions. 23% of the global population will be living in Africa. These countries will invest massively in creating new cities, new infrastructures, new services. In the Middle East the population within 2050 will have increased by 250 another million. Cleaning industry follows these trends and we are certain that the most interesting matches will be played in this region in the immediate future.
If we concentrate on how many billions of new square meters of offices, schools, hospitals, train stations and airports will be created and will need to be cleaned in the next few years, we will understand how big is the challenge and the opportunity that we are going to face soon.
COVID-19 experience has taught us how important cleanliness is to fight the spread of the infection and how important it is to know how to do it.
- How can the industry collectively overcome these challenges?
The cleaning industry, especially in Europe (which is a continent where most of the biggest players are located), has a very important role to play. Being the reference point for this immense development, most of the manufacturers have an extraordinary opportunity to build their future. We all are faced with a unique condition, never seen before, of which we can accurately determine the dimensions and the impact. However, facing such an imposing challenge requires great skills and vision. We have just opened a dialogue with representatives and learned about people in the Middle East and Africa region in order to clearly understand what are their expectations, their needs and how we can move forward together properly and effectively. Our new show in Nigeria “Clean Africa ISSA PULIRE, from 16 to 18 February in Lagos, is the first milestone of a long itinerary list. It will be the first place where we can start to design and build up a long term project for our industry.
- Tell us about the opportunities that lie ahead for these markets?
I see a lot of opportunities. Manufacturers may expand their business to these new areas, as well as thousands of new cleaning contractors who can create their own activities there.
Competence and technology are the key words. Competence for doing a job in a proper way from the start and technology to enhance productivity, promote safety and to improve the quality of work.
- What kind of training programs do you intend to introduce to these markets?
Training is the magic word. Everything revolves around it. There is no development and success without training and education. Training is the primary condition for moving any action. If we talk about something which has never happened in human history at this scale, we can easily understand how relevant this activity is for supporting such a huge transformation. Training is for the people to help them do the job. It has to do with everything, especially in the cleaning service, where any operation needs to be executed in a specific way according to a specific need.
- What does the future of commercial cleaning and hygiene look like?
In general the future of the professional cleaning and hygiene industry looks like an amazing challenge in the EMEA region, it looks like an extraordinary opportunity. The pandemic has shown, more than any previous collective experience, how much cleanliness and hygiene represent the effective defense against the spread of the infections. In densely populated areas such as those cities in Africa and the Middle East that gather tens of millions of inhabitants, the issue of environmental safety, management and control is absolutely crucial. A lot has been done but there is still a lot to do. We will do it by sharing a common vision of building a cleaner world.