As Africa sets to expand trade over the coming decade, a digital freight management company has a plan to help revolutionize a traditional industry critical to the continent’s economic future.
For Africa, trade is taking center stage thanks to the Continental Free Trade Area agreement – the largest in the world – that has unified 1.3 billion people across fifty-five (55) countries in a market valued by the World Bank to be worth $3.4 trillion. The unfolding opportunities from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will position companies to deepen their market penetration beyond their geographical limits and service market gaps across the continent. In essence, a fast-moving consumer goods firm that is based in Ogun State, Nigeria can sell its product in markets as far as Nairobi, Kenya, in East Africa. Likewise, another firm in Rabat, Morocco, can source materials from anywhere in Central Africa. These dynamics have inspired hopes that AfCFTA will boost Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035, yet one of the most critical success factors is often ignored– Freight Management.
Freight Management encompasses the broad activities that facilitate the movement of goods through the supply chain to the designated endpoints. The process seeks to manage the complex operations, including the financial and administrative considerations involved in transporting goods such that there is an optimization of cost and time, and the inbound or outbound goods arrive at the right places in the best physical conditions. Globally, this industry is estimated by Global Industry Analysts Inc., (GIA) to be worth $2.1 trillion in 2021, and serves as the lifeblood of international commerce. In Africa, the services offered by freight companies stimulate economic activities and bridge factories to the market, underscoring the importance and value of freight management to the continent’s economy. Although the role of freight services is clear, the traditional way of providing trade support has failed in unleashing the potential of cross-continental trade. According to 2019 data from UNCTAD, Africa depends on the rest of the world for 85.8% of its total import, compared to Latin America and the Caribbean (84.9%), North America (81.5%), Asia (38.5%), and Europe (33.9%). On the flip side, intra-regional export amounted to 15.5% of total export trade within the year, against 30.1%, 59.6%, and 68.0% intra-regional trade in North America, Asia, and Europe respectively. At the heart of the high dependence of Africa on the rest of the world for trade is a myriad of issues related to tariffs and poor infrastructure. Due to the unavailability of critical road, rail, and port infrastructure, traditional ways of handling freight can be expensive for businesses in terms of monetary and non-monetary costs. The inherent difficulty in transporting goods to where they are needed at the right time and cost negatively impacts the business environment and, when aggregated on a national or continental level, results in lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
To solve the problem of freight management in Africa, OnePort 365 – a holistic freight forwarding platform with Africa at heart – streamlines trade by digitizing the entire process of handling inbound and outbound shipments. The OnePort 365 digital channel facilitates seamless containerized freight management using technology to eliminate the complex and manual processes required in coordinating the end-to-end movement of goods through the supply chain. Leveraging the tech-driven multimodal solution by OnePort 365, businesses that have containerised cargo to send or receive – regardless of distance – can use the platform to arrange for every step in the freight process including inland haulage, ocean freight, warehousing, insurance, terminal handling and customs brokerage. Therefore, the OnePort 365 platform essentially integrates services from origin to load port to help businesses operate efficiently.
Through the digital platform, users have access to instant competitive rates and can immediately obtain comprehensive quotes. The cost-saving advantage for businesses is immense because the platform simplifies the process of booking shipments and saves productive hours contacting vendors. In addition, it reduces risks associated with limited available information, and the volume of paperwork involved in booking shipments.
On top of that, the OnePort 365 platform can be accessed from anywhere in the world and provides flexibility that is consistent with the demands of businesses in the twenty-first century. Even in the context of the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that in its earlier days ground the world to a halt, digital platforms like OnePort 365’s minimize the potential disruption to business operations that might stem from difficulties in collaboration and communication between parties involved in a freight management transaction.
Perhaps one of the most important features of the OnePort 365 platform is the complete visibility available for users. With the platform, users can track their local and international shipments which helps in minimizing the incidence of goods getting lost-in-transit, ensuring that routes are optimized, and freight planning can be effective and data-driven.
In broader terms, the platform offers businesses the opportunity to operate optimally, unencumbered by manual processes and associated costs. By deploying technology there is much certainty around business operations because of the end-to-end control that users have. Unlike traditional freight management that is complex, digital integrations have proven to be the best bet in ensuring that deliveries are on time, at the best prices, and get to the right destination in the best conditions. The digital platform is supported by world-class cybersecurity infrastructure that includes end-to-end data encryption and multi-factor authentication for access control to guarantee the data protection and privacy of users.
With this comfort, there is room for businesses that utilize digital freight management platforms to scale up their activities, manage cash flow, and operate efficiently within their respective markets. For instance, a manufacturing firm that makes use of cost-saving digital platforms to ship raw materials to its factories can afford to sell its final output at a more competitive price than its counterpart that uses inefficient and more expensive traditional freight forwarding services. Therefore, the choice of freight management service can have an impact on a business’ market share or position within its industry. On a continental level, by reducing the cost of freight forwarding a significant hurdle to trade will be eliminated.
“What we have been able to do is to streamline the trade process for African cross border trade using technology,” said Hio Sola-Usidame, co-founder of OnePort 365 at a recent media parley that was held virtually. “We are aware of the challenges involved when dealing with the import and export of goods from this part of the world.”
Within eight (8) months of launching the digital platform, over 13,000 tonnes of containerized cargo were booked, and the adoption rate since has been on a geometric scale notwithstanding that the freight management industry has historically been traditional.
OnePort 365’s vision for a digitized freight management system in Africa is rooted in its deep and practical understanding of the continental landscape and peculiarities. The firm’s expertise on cross-continental and inter-continental trade is “clear as day” given that it has shipped exports valued at over $10 million. Also, the firm’s services encompass Ocean freight, Inland haulage (Trucking, Barge, and Rail), and Warehousing (Short and Long Term) to Value Added Services like Marine Insurance and Customs Brokerage. With the digital platform, the wealth of the OnePort 365 team of experts is available at the click of a button to deliver instant support in addition to the comprehensive solutions available on the One-stop-shop platform.
As a testament to the impact of OnePort 365 in providing freight management solutions that expand trade in Africa, OnePort 365 is a member of the Sealink Consortium put together by the Export-Import Banks of Africa to streamline intra-African trade routes by bridging national and regional infrastructure gaps. “Our purpose is to usher in a radical change that enhances Africa’s participation in global trade with complete systemic transformation,” Sola-Usidame added.
Managing Director OnePort 365, Hio Sola-Usidame
Since OnePort 365’s establishment in 2019, they have opened operations across all geopolitical zones in Nigeria and have offices in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Ghana. Some of their shipment destinations include Greece, Turkey, the U.K., India, Congo and Mexico.
To learn more about OnePort 365 visit www.oneport365.com. Follow @OnePort 365 for the latest news and updates.