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Akil a facilitator for Western firms [Gulf Industry]
[January 05, 2014]

Akil a facilitator for Western firms [Gulf Industry]

(Gulf Industry Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Akil Management Services, a consultancy firm based in Bahrain and founded by Dutchman Erik Wellen to help Western companies do business in the Middle East, continues its focus on the information technology and oil and gas sectors as it moves into its fourth year.

Akil has its office at Bahrain Financial Harbour and, earlier in 2013, it set up in Rotterdam, the Netherlands a branch office of the same name.

Wellen discussed Akil's activities over the past year and its plans to facilitate Western businesses, mainly Dutch ones, in the Middle East.

Akil is building a multi-country team of experts to hone local skills in the two key sectors of information and communications technology (ICT) and heavy industries with a strong focus on oil and gas. Besides sales and marketing services, the company is now also offering training and recruitment services to both market sectors. The networking-oriented company is also including in its pool of experts Bahrain people who have retired from companies in the ICT and oil and gas fields and who feel they have a contribution to make. Further details will be announced this month.

Wellen: forging trade ties between the West and the Middle East Wellen sees strong growth opportunities for training in the region. "We've seen that unemployment among youth will rise 30 per cent in the next five to 10 years and we understand that local governments are paying a lot of attention to skills upgrade," he said.

Akil is in the process of establishing a training and recruitment division in 2014 and has inked an agreement with a Dutch firm that will set up technical training centres focused on oil and gas processes where students can have hands-on experience. "It has a wealth of knowledge and uses a combination of expertise and methodology to set up centres for vocational training that will offer hands-on training for the oil and gas industry. They take care of all kinds of oil and gas-related processes, undertaking process simulation with water and steam instead of oil and gas. It's a well-established institute in Rotterdam and eager to tap into the Middle Eastern market," he says.

Akil is also looking at soft skills that can be applied to any sector. Courses will cover leadership, communication and team development together with personal effectiveness. Heading the soft skills team will be Wim-Jan Goedknegt who worked as a coach for over 20 years in all kinds of international companies and officiated as managing director in several organisations prior to that.

With regards to recruitment, Akil is aware of the unemployment challenges in the region but will be focusing on the high-skills segment. It has signed up with a Rotterdam firm that specialises in head hunting for the oil and gas industry and has gathered a battery of highly qualified engineers from Western Europe, Spain and Portugal who are interested in working in the Middle East on a contractual or permanent basis.

  TIES WITH TWO FIRMS With regards to sales and marketing activities, the company is currently actively involved with two companies – technology provider and software vendor Bell ID and Imtech Industry International, a global company with interests in many fields but focusing on the oil and gas segment.

Bell ID's software enables any organisation to issue and manage smart cards or the so-called secure element in mobile phones such as the sim card or the SD card.

Akil represents Dutch firm Imtech Industry International’s interests in the region "Bell ID is able with its software to turn a mobile phone into a credit or debit card, enabling contactless payments for coffee, for example," said Wellen. "Between 2001 and 2010 (before Akil was signed up as their agent for the Middle East), the company had secured five projects in the region and in the last one year alone we secured via Akil three projects. Plus the 2014 outlook is equally good and we're very happy that Bell ID wants to renew the contract with us." With regards to Imtech, Akil has had a business relationship across 18 months which has intensified since the beginning of this year but, he explains, is not long enough when one considers that projects take a long time in coming. Akil is in the process of developing joint ventures with regional partners for Imtech.

The Middle East is one of Imtech's areas of focus with the GCC region particularly a key market for growth. Other focal points are the Far East, where it has been very active in Brunei; the states of Gabon and Nigeria in Africa, and the US.

Imtech has a presence in Oman, a JV in Dubai called Karad-Vonk and a sales office at the Bahrain Financial Harbour, which it opened in 2013.

It is currently discussing business opportunities with two companies that have a strong customer base, one of which is in Bahrain and the other in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Through Akil, Imtech is leveraging a wealth of experience it has had with major firms including Shell.

Akil is also working on winning contracts for Imtech in brownfield rejuvenation across various sectors. It is currently bidding for a project in Bahrain that calls for upgrading and rejuvenation – an expertise that Imtech has as a manufacturer-independent system integrator, having worked with various manufacturers and possessing knowledge of existing systems from makers of any related equipment.

Wellen highlights that Imtech also has expertise in building substations and even power plants up to 50 MW on EPC basis. "The company has built a standby power unit for Amsterdam Medical Centre on an EPC basis and can replicate that in the Middle East," he notes. "We also have the right capabilities for biomass solutions such as power plants using household waste as feedstock instead of using this for landfill." Imtech Industry International – part of Royal Imtech NV – is a $5 billion company with around 27,000 staff worldwide.

(c) 2013 Al Hilal Publishing & Marketing Group Provided by, an company

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