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Solarabic hosted a dialogue session with LONGi and their agents in Lebanon, AGS International company. The session was led by Eng. Moneef Barakat with Mr. Kai, Director of Sales for LONGi in the Middle East and Mr. Abdeljalil Shehada, founder of AGS International company, the agent of LONGi in Lebanon.
Could you introduce yourself Mr. Kai and LONGi company?
LONGi is a global leader in solar energy with a high market value of development and sustainability, it has primarily focused on the technology of ‘Mono Crystalline’ solar photovoltaic panels.
Since its entry into the market in 2005, the company started manufacturing wafers, and then in 2014 it started manufacturing cells and panels, now it’s one of the largest suppliers of solar panels and wafers. LONGi has produced 100 GW of wafers and 60 GW of solar panels, and has a market share of 40% in the production of wafers and 20% inthe production of photovoltaic solar panels.
LONGi started its businesses in MENA in 2018 and the clients have recognized our brand that makes us happy. We have established cooperation with our partner in Lebanon.
Talking about Lebanon, tell us about the company and the team in Lebanon.
Abdeljalil Shihada auto spare parts company is the agent of LONGi in Lebanon and has several other branches in the Arab world and the Middle east.
Mr. Abdeljalil Shehadeh is the founder and the president and has been the CEO and partner since 2014. Dr. Hosen Shhada is the partner and the sales Manager since 2020. The company now has more than 100 employees. It is the main agent for several other companies specialized in the areas of energy and energy storage, like ‘Luminous – Subsidiary of Schneider’ and ‘Exide’ for batteries.
Mr. Abdeljalil, how has the Lebanon market growth been? Where do you see the solar market in the next three years? Tell us more about solar market in Lebonan.
The solar market is new in Lebanon, solar energy began to enter the Lebanese market in May 2021. At the same time, AGS International started its activates in the field, since we are agents of international battery companies and also work with several companies specialized in renewable energy like ‘Trina’, ‘Canadian’ and ‘LONGi’. This made the marketing easier for us.
We think competition in the Lebanese market will be great during the next three years for us and for other companies, so we are going to focus significantly on the media, marketing and the end users.
We are establishing a special stock to supply LONGi products in ‘Jebel Ali’ in UAE. We expect to become the major distributor for LONGi.
You started with many solar panels companies, are you still working with them
No, currently we are working only with LONGi.
Energy market importance in Lebanon owing to the energy crisis that the country is going through, the problems of the electrical network and the shortage of electricity, these reasons have made solar energy a need and not a luxury. Do you think this situation will stay the same, or will the electricity and network situation improve soon?
Electricity system in Lebanon is different than other countries. Here, the government supplies part of the electricity and the other part is produced by the local people and they sell it. So, many citizens are turning to solar system solution, hence we expect the Middle East solar market to stay booming….
What kind of batteries? Is it only Gel
No, we invest in more than one type of batteries such as “gel”, “lead acid”, “lithium” and “tabular” and we work with international companies.
Your interest in quality explains your work with “Longi”, the number one company in the world. In the beginning, there was no awareness of the brands, but now there is a great awareness of the types and quality of panels. The question is: What is your criteria to choose the solar panels that you distribute and what makes you choose Longi over the rest of the companies?
We believe in credibility. Here we are very interested in matching the product datasheet with the actual product information, and “Longi” is characterized by matching the product specifications with the datasheet. We are also interested in working with international companies that care about the quality of their products.
For you, when you got the panels from the company in China, were there difficulties in the shipping process to Lebanon,or was it easy?
The success of the company is the success of the entire team members. When we contacted the company at the beginning, we communicated with Mr. Kai directly. He was very cooperative and facilitated the process of cooperation with Longi. We thank him and always consider him our partner in success and we promise to establish a long-term relationship in the region.
As for the shipping process from China to Lebanon, was it easy?
In the previous period, there was a delay in the supply process due to health conditions in China and we always wished them safety, and we dealt with the supply process like big companies. Our company is considered the number one company in the field of batteries and inverters in the region and will soon be in the field of solar panels.
From a technical point of view, is there a quick response from the team of Longi, and what is the level of technical expertise of their team?
Every day we cooperate with LONGi and achieve new success in terms of orders. In general, the company is a good supporter in all aspects, whether sales, technical department or logistics, and it is really a company that deserves to be the number one in the world and we are happy to cooperate with them. Mr. Kai is very cooperative with us, and is always cheerful despite all the pressures and difficulties we went through previously.
Due to the weather conditions two weeks ago, many systems were damaged and the solar panels got out of place, despite the difficult financial conditions of the Lebanese, Mr. Abdul Jalil, what is your advice to customers when considering the process of installing a solar energy system to avoid making this mistake?
Our company is divided into two parts: a marketing department and a technical department.
As for the marketing department: Marketing is carried out by “LTSY” company, one of the major marketing companies in Dubai, owned by Mr. Fadi. The company provides all marketing services such as digital marketing via the Internet or external marketing.
Mr. Fadi pointed out that marketing is great in Lebanon as well as in Dubai, and because the world of marketing is very large, it is necessary to find a way to deliver the product in a way that achieves the best sales and the best feedback. For LONGi products, we prefer external marketing. The basic plan aims to get out of the heart of the cities and head to the outer streets and city entrances through small posters and panels.
Mr. Abdul Jalil, tell us about the technical side?
When a technical defect occurs, companies always try to study and analyze the defect, and we are among these companies. We try to make the installation method better and stronger. For example, we are more interested in the impact of weight and wind on the panels. These weather conditions and the problems that followed caused the companies’ attention and directed them not to fall into this problem again.
In the coming period, there will be courses and an introductory conference for companies that install systems to raise their level due to the lack of equal experience for all companies that install energy systems.
Our work with Schneider for a long time made us qualified to deal with international products. We are interested in knowing who sells the product and the product itself and the most important matters related to the product. We are interested in raising the level of the person who sells the product by the formation of sufficient experience for him to talk about the product or deal with it in the event of a defect.
Mr. Kai, we want to hear from you about the past period and could you give us feedback about working with Mr. Abdul Jalil Company and working in the Lebanese market?
We believe that the Lebanese market started to boom last year due to the urgent need for energy, and it is expected that the demand in the market will remain high during the next two or three years and then reach a state of stability, in addition to the price of the system, we expect the demand for systems to increase and this is what makes people see that these systems work for them, too.
Concerning our partnership with Mr. Abdul Jalil, everything is going smoothly, they are ambitious people and ready to take on greater responsibilities in the region. We discussed several things such as our partnership with them and the possibility of having local warehouses and some activities in the markets and if there are some solutions, we share them with their team.
I believe that, in partnership with them, the Lebanese market can become prosperous.