TF Spotlight: Streamlining the African Logistics industry with digitisation
The pandemic indeed has brought many challenges to the African continent, significantly in the movement of goods and cross-border trade, and has paralysed its economy, taking it to a regression of up to 14% in some countries, including Mauritius. Even before COVID-19, there were many challenges faced by African importers and exporters with slow customs, Port, and Airport operations to remedy this, many African states had already engaged in implementing a Regulatory Single Window which has improved considerably the processes at customs and revenue authorities where clearance and declaration of goods are now done online with multiple stakeholders in the value chain connected.
However, the Ports and Airports where there has been an increased volume of cargo mostly in imports, continue to create blockages and delays at customs gates, and container yards both at the Port and inland, causing a hype in transportation costs, therefore reducing competitiveness. The increase in several vessels arriving at their Ports where they are still processing on paper adds to further delays and costs. Today, with advanced technology, the internet and mobile communications and solution providers like Kale Logistics Solutions, it is possible to achieve complete digitalisation of the operations at Ports and Airports by switching to its cloud Community Platforms built with the latest technology like Blockchain amongst others, which enables all stakeholders to connect on one platform for the exchange of data, filing of documents like manifests, Delivery Order (DO) and Air Waybill (AWB) amongst others.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world, measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures. With all the member countries aligning their Trade relationship to maximise this agreement, meaning that there will be a need for digital trade corridors opened between member countries and therefore connecting all stakeholders for all regulatory filings, exchange of data, and apply/submit licences/permits/certificates bringing more efficiency and its potential.
Competition and economic trade revenues are huge, with most of the countries being landlocked and Ports like Maputo, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Durban and others are condemned to fully digitalise their Ports to become competitive in terms of time and cost. Also the building of railway lines and better roads, computerised border posts connected with central Revenue Authorities and customs to facilitate checks and movements using Mobile applications and technologies. Kale Logistics Solutions, digital platforms like e-Marketplace, Electronic Certificate of Origin (e-CoO) and Port Community System (PCS) are great strides in streamlining and bringing transparency into the processes.