Africa has been home to many of the fastest growing economies in the world – creating a need for new buildings, houses and roads, as well as access to abundant energy and clean water.
Caterpillar’s connection to Africa spans more than 100 years. Our dealers cover over 50 countries with a presence in nearly 150 cities, plus more than 15,000 employees combined between Caterpillar and our dealers. It’s a key continent for us and we are proud that together, with our partners, we are helping our customers in Africa to build a better, more sustainable world.
The Caterpillar Foundation has invested more than $65 million since 2010 in Africa. These investments have benefited hundreds of thousands of people with access to education, clean water, sanitation and microfinance.
At Caterpillar, we consider our customers’ success as our own. With an aftermarket parts distribution center in Johannesburg, South Africa, our district offices, family of brands, and independently owned Cat® dealers provide customers in Africa with localized, value-added solutions that help meet current and future needs.
Our customers supported many of the largest projects conducted throughout the continent, including building the Inga Dam, widening the Suez Canal and constructing rail lines through the middle of the Congo and Nafud Desert. Our first product sale, a Holt steam tractor, occurred in 1903 in what is known today as Mature, Zimbabwe. Our first dealer was appointed in Tunisia in 1926. Get to know more of our history in Africa below.
Together with our dealers, we continue to support customers today in mining, energy and infrastructure.
First Holt product sold in Africa, 1903. Almost from the beginning as a company, Caterpillar machine sales and aftermarket parts services were managed by dealers – and, one of these dealers, Parenin (today known as M.T.I Cat) in Tunisia is the oldest. Parenin introduced the first Holt Caterpillar gasoline powered track-type tractor into Africa in 1912.
Holt 60 tractor pulling a Holt Combine Harvester in North Africa, 1912.
Caterpillar 2-ton tractor pulling a plow in North Africa, 1925.
Caterpillar tractors exported to Africa, 1926. By the 1920s, Parenin was selling Holt Caterpillar track-type tractors and combine harvesters across Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. Leading up to that time, Caterpillar and the dealer were busy supporting customers with the first gasoline powered Holt Caterpillar tractors in Port Natal, South Africa (1913) and farmers who used our mahcines on their South Africa farms by May 1914.
First Caterpillar diesel tractor sold in Africa, 1933. The first Caterpillar diesel dozer was sold in Africa in 1933.
The first Caterpillar D4 tractor being unloaded at the port of La Goulette near Tunisia, 1938.
Our customers use Cat products to help construct the Managil Dam, 1957. Starting in 1957, Cat machines begin work on the construction of the Managil Irrigation Project. Eighty-eight Caterpillar machines and three Caterpillar engines helped construct a 160-mile canal from the Blue Nile to turn 300,000 acres of desert land into fertile fields.
Cat dealer providing onsite services for a customer’s D8H dozer in Cameroon, Africa, ca. 1975.
A Caterpillar D7 tractor with a pipelayer attachment in North Africa, 1950.
Cat D8 tractors and No. 80 scrapers were used to widen the Suez Canal, 1956.
In 1959, Cat machines help construct a railroad through an African jungle to open up mining opportunities in the region. Fifty-six new Cat machines - including D8s, D9s, DW20 Wheel Tractors with No. 456 Scrapers, No. 12 Motor Graders, and No. 463 Scrapers - joined a fleet of older Caterpillar machines on a 180-mile railway construction project through a jungle in the Republic of the Congo, parts of Gabon, and the Central African Republic. Many of these machines were used later to mine manganese in the region.
Cat machines help construct the Kainji Dam in Nigeria, 1964.
Cat 789C Off-Highway Truck, 2000. Working in a mine in South Africa.
307E Mini Excavator in working application in southern Africa, 2000s.