Is Africa on your logistics horizon?

Roger OakdenGlobal Logistics

Know your business opportunities.  

Being a logistician is different from working in logistics. To be a logistician requires more than knowing how to do the planning and operational roles; you must know why they are done in your organisation – that is, the role they play in the  strategy of your business.

The business strategy must not only manage the planning to meet current customer expectations, but also planning and managing the changes required for adapting to the future. A logistician must therefore understand and be capable of managing change.

To do this requires you to study changes in international business and socio-political trends, so that advice on new supply chains and their challenges can be provided to the CEO and Board. For example, as China moves up the development scale, companies involved with clothing, footwear and items requiring simple assembly are starting to relocate. Some will go to countries in Asia, but not all. If your business is in apparel or simple assembly, then Africa must be in your supply chains change plan.

An outline of African development is contained in the free app World in 2013, published by the Economist magazine. The media generally provides sad stories about Africa, but positives are happening. This is especially so around industrial investment coming from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), but also from Africans investing in Africa.

Where to invest

Growth is in minerals, agriculture and low labour cost manufacturing. Countries that are within the world’s top ten for GDP growth are Ghana, Mozambique and Rwanda. Other growth potential countries (in alphabetical order) are Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

Investment is occurring in infrastructure (mainly financed by China); professionals are starting to return to Africa from the developed countries where they have been working and innovation is happening in mobile technologies that addresses African challenges. These are positive stories.

Research the positive stories and the growth countries so that you know more about your future supply markets, supply chains and customer needs. It may take some years, but a logistician must always be ready for the future.

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About the Author

Roger Oakden

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With my background as a practitioner, consultant and educator, I am uniquely qualified to provide practical learning in supply chains and logistics. I have co-authored a book on these subjects, published by McGraw-Hill. As the program Manager at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, I developed and presented the largest supply chain post-graduate program in the Asia Pacific region, with centres in Melbourne, Singapore and Hong Kong. Read More...