African perishable shippers and logistics experts call for united efforts to tackle high supply chain costs and constraints at first Cool Logistics Africa conference
London, 03.05.2012 – Logistics costs in Africa are up to four times higher than elsewhere, Mark Hassenkamp, CEO of Corvus Investments International, advisor to Chiquita Brands International on fruit sourcing diversification strategy, said at the first Cool Logistics Conference ever to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.
If the African continent wants to compete on global markets and seize the opportunities offered by the agriculture sector, not just in South Africa, but in transition countries such as Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, this must change.
Held in Cape Town late April, the international event attracted over150 participants from 15 countries drawn from the global and regional perishable supply chain. Exporters, importers, retailers, air and ocean carriers, 3PLs, ports, cold store and land freight operators came together over three days for a frequently passionate dialogue on the continent’s cold chain and perishable logistics outlook.
There seemed to be rare agreement at Cool Logistics Africa between transport, logistics and perishable professionals – including fruit exporters united under the Fruit South Africa umbrella organisation –that change is now of the essence.
As Delena Engelbrecht, CEO of Go Reefers put it: “We are playing catch upin South Africa and may have no more than seven years left before congestion and delays put the region on a back foot.”
Even in South Africa, logistics costs pitched at 13.5% of GDP remain too high compared with the USA and other main trading partners, said Abriede Swardt, Managing Director of Capespan Exports. Tau Morwe, Chief Executive of South-Africa-based Transnet National Ports Authority, used the conference platform to outline the R300 bn ($38.7 bn) capital investment programme to improve South African ports and global logistical competiveness. He also mentioned that Transnet was ready to engage more proactively with the private sector in the future in order to tackle operational constraints and to become generally more demand-driven.
Critically, Transnet, which hold sand controls important landside logistical assets, was also seeking to assuage any fears that issues that brought some of South African ports to a standstill in 2010 will not be repeated this year.
While reaffirming Maersk’s commitment to South Africa as the Southern gateway on the African Continent, David Williams, Head of Maersk’s Southern Africa Cluster expressed the hope that some of the ‘occasional shocks’ to the Southern African supply chain will be avoided in the future.
Picking out the refrigerated maritime transport sector, Maersk warned that the problems of equipment shortage will not go away, especially as this market sector is expected to grow and older units have to be withdrawn. According to the world’s leading refrigerated container operator 44, 000 FEU were scrapped in 2011. This year the figure is estimated to reach over 47, 000FEU and could reach nearly 70, 000 FEU by 2016, based on a 13 year lifespan.
Throughout the 2-day conference and 1-daypost conference operational workshop, Andy Connell, Business Unit Manager, Shipping & Logistics at Dole South Africa, kept reminding attendees that the spirit of logistical innovation lay in the passion for detail, combining a unique creative approach with practical awareness of challenges in ports, shipping and inland terminals across the entire perishable supply chain from producer to retail shelf.
Heralding the entry of the African consumer in the near future, and outlining potential significant trade shifts in the region, major Kenyan producer Hasit Shah – Director of Sunripe and Vice Chairman of Kenya’s Shippers Council – chimed in with Mark Hassenkamp’s analysis: “We need to integrate the small holder into the cold chain.”
“Following the success of this first ever Cool Logistics Africa Conference, we will be back in Cape Town next year to continue the dialogue and facilitate sharing of ideas, knowledge and practical solutions to improve Africa’s perishable supply chain performance, ” said Alex von Stempel, Director, Cool Logistics Resources.
What people said about Cool Logistics Africa 2012:
“A very well organized and attended conference, fantastic venue with great facilities. The presentations were outstanding and a lot of ideas were shared between participants.” – Johan Kriel, Port of Salalah “Great conference, with many local industry leaders thatwill be instrumental in further developing the perishables export of the African continent.” – Anton van Rooij, ThermoKing
“The first Africa conference was in my view a full success. Well organized with plenty of “quality” speakers.” – Clemens Holz, Hapag-Lloyd AG
“The Cool Logistics Africa Conference in Cape Town during April 2012 was very well organised, interesting and informative. The speakers were excellent, experienced and expert in their particular areas. I gained considerable new knowledge and a broader view of several aspects applicable to the cold chain. The opportunities to network were by far the best I have experienced at many previous conferences I have attended. As a result I have gained a significant number of kindred spirits that I look forward to sharing knowledge and experiences in the future. I agree with the comment made by Steve Cameron on how impressed he was with the commitment and passion the South African participants the solve challenges and get things right.” – Max Braun, Fleetwatch
For more testimonials, please visit: www.coollogisticsafrica.com/attendees
About Cool Logistics Resources
Cool Logistics Resources Ltd. provides high-quality business intelligence, relationship-building and networking for supply chain, logistics and transport professionals in the international perishables markets. Staged for the fourth time in 2012, the annual Cool Logistics Global conference brings together logistics and transport professionals from around the world to assess key trends and best practice in end-to-end logistics for chilled and frozen goods, including market outlook, shipper needs, maritime and air transport, landside logistics, cold chain technology and more.
Launched in 2012, the Cool Logistics Africa conference assembles all of the key players to discuss how to deliver cold chain capacity, services and skills for Africa to compete fully on the world perishables stage, grow regional trade and ensure efficient distribution for vital food imports.
The two live events are supported year-round by the Cool Logistics discussion group on LinkedIn, Twitter and website activity, and the online Cool Logistics Community for conference participants.