By Josephine Wawira ,
According to Euromonitor, the world’s fastest-growing economies by 2030 will be in Africa. This consequently makes the continent the next big e-commerce market. And as this positive narrative continues to place Africa as a top investment destination, the need for advanced logistics systems has become inevitable. The growth of e-commerce will significantly depend on the quality and efficiency of logistics networks; from intra and cross trade to financial transactions in payment of goods and services.
When writing the African e-commerce story, I often leap at the chance to explore only the enviable milestones the continent has made. Nevertheless, there still exist formidable challenges especially in logistics, a vital constituent of the industry. The African Development Bank, in its 2019 African Economic Outlook, notes that “trade costs due to poorly functioning logistics markets may be a greater barrier to trade than tariffs and nontariff barriers”. This side of the story must also be told; if we are to find sustainable solutions to what could be the gateway to growing Africa’s e-commerce by leaps and bounds.
Unsatisfactory National Address Systems and Transport Infrastructure
One of the biggest logistics’ hurdles holding back the industry is the lack of proper national address systems in most African countries. This, coupled by poor road networks, make it even harder to conveniently deliver products to customers. Consequently, companies have had to rely on fairly descriptive addresses and landmarks provided by the customers during the initial stages of the online purchase process. The delivery persons are also required to keep in constant contact with clients when delivering products, to receive further directions while en-route.
While generally Africa’s infrastructure lags behind that of its counterparts including America and Europe, it is worthy of note that each country has its own value proposition. In 2018, the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index placed South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, and Côte d’Ivoire as the top 4 best-performing countries in Africa, while Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea and Zimbabwe were at the bottom 4.
In most African countries, the result of the poor road infrastructure is heavy traffic jams that lead to delayed deliveries, cancelled orders for the on-demand services and subsequently loss of revenue. Alternative modes of transport have therefore come into play in some markets like Kenya and Nigeria, with the use of easy to navigate motorcycles, popularly known as Bodabodas. With about 1.2 million motorcycles in the passenger transport business, Kenyan ecommerce companies have strived to tap into this market by using Bodabodas to swiftly deliver products, especially within busy cities.
“There are huge opportunities for logistics to grow e-commerce, but few established players exist in the market,” notes Apoorva Kumar, Jumia’s SVP of Logistics. Present in 14 African countries, Jumia is one of the ecommerce players building logistics and fulfilment infrastructures to ease delivery of products to consumers using both vehicles and bodabodas.
Jumia’s Bodaboda Rider
Providentially, technology has been a boon to the logistics industry. In Nigeria and Kenya, Jumia is running a well-established system using Machine Learning, relying on GPS enabled delivery apps. The coordinates collected in the first delivery are then registered and used in making a logistics network for future conveyance.
In Rwanda, companies like Zipline are leading the way in commercial drone deliveries. While initially focused on delivering blood to remote health centres that are otherwise difficult to reach fast due to Rwanda’s hilly terrain; it is expected that Zipline’s drones will in future be used in other sectors including e-commerce. Back in Kenya, Astral Aerial Solutions is using drones for among other services, last mile deliveries. The company aims to, in its words, “open up Kenya’s hard to reach regions to new and exciting business opportunities”.
The possibilities for a better future in logistics, in my view, are endless! And as Apoorva reiterates, companies cannot solely build a successful logistics system. “It requires integrating various systems and partners to create a big enough network to serve the growing needs of the e-commerce consumers,” he says, calling for both private and public partnerships to this endeavour.
What Then, Does the Future Hold?
Data by logistics consulting firm Knight Frank shows that the cost of transportation represents 50% to 75% of the retail price of the goods. This alone underpins the demand for long-term strategies to the logistics challenges in Africa.
From delayed deliveries between local destinations to sluggish growth of cross-border trade, the effects are being felt across the board. Modern online retailing is headed towards pre-orders, requiring mature infrastructure for both small and medium businesses. This will help meet the packaging, storage, distribution, freight and last-mile-delivery requirements. Though challenging, Africa is a land full of commercial opportunities; causing a scramble for a piece of the pie among international investors.
Therefore, for e-commerce companies in Africa to achieve sustainable bottom-line growth, there needs to occur more tech-empowered handshakes between multiple service providers across markets. Governments have the responsibility to create one-window-policies that empower digital payment solutions as well as logistics infrastructure including road networks, air cargo handling systems and warehouses among others. Similarly, e-commerce and logistics powerhouses like Jumia should commit to empowering more upcoming entrepreneurs. They must also use their leading positions to continue paving the way for economic integration in Africa.
Josephine Wawira is a Consultant in Communications and Public Relations, and a writer with a focus on African Development. She has written opinion articles covering among other topics e-commerce, travel, hospitality and tourism and is currently the Group PR & Communications Assistant Manager at Jumia Group.
FG Launches Central Database for Stolen Asset Tracing
Federal government has launched a Central Database under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations (ARTM), 2019 and the Central Criminal Justice Information System (CCJIS) under the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017 – 2011 to assist in the fight against corruption.
Mr Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, at the launch in Abuja, said the database will ensure uniformity of process, access and information feeding to deepen transparency and accountability in the management of recovered assets.
To ensure compliance, he said his office is developing legislation for the full implementation and operation of the CCJIS.
“We will work together to establish and re-enact transparency and accountability in governance and management of our resources which we have committed to do by way of strengthening International Cooperation of our membership of Open Government Partnership,” he said.
In his speech, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by Mrs Ugonna Ozurigbo, chairman, House Committee on Justice, said the regulation on Asset Tracing, Recovery and proper management of proceeds of crime was signed on October 24, 2019, and took effect from November 1, 2019, replaced the proceeds of Crime Regulation of 2012.
The new regulation titled Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 empowers the AGF to take charge of the custody and management of all final forfeited assets, approval and appointment of asset managers and operating and maintaining a database for the records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.
He said, the AGF’s office, under the new regulation, is also required to coordinate inter-agency investigations into recovery matters within and outside Nigeria from all law enforcement agencies whose law empowers them to undertake recoveries and maintaining a depository for all forfeiture orders issued by the Nigeria courts and courts outside Nigeria.
Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management, according to the Speaker, is a core value of good governance and its effective management will serve as a deterrent to would-be fraudulent minded individuals who may find themselves in public offices.
According to him, states resources must not be allowed to be stolen but if that happened by fraudulent individuals, efforts must be taken to trace the proceed, recover same and manage for the interest of the generality of the people.
“When the proceeds of crime are traced and recovered but again looted by government officials, I dare to say such act amounts to the crime of tertiary capacity and must be avoided.
“Assets not accounted for are assets lost; loss of assets undervalues the economic potential of a country and will negatively impact on the net worth of a country. Accordingly, Asset Tracing Recovery and Management is a panacea to rekindling of the value system of a nation,” the Speaker noted.
Konga Bulk Debuts Monday
Konga, Nigeria’s foremost ethical and innovative composite e-Commerce brand is set to unveil a revolutionary new solution – Konga Bulk – which the company says will represent the new normal for forward-thinking businesses and consumers in the Nigerian corporate space.
Equally important, Konga Bulk, the latest innovation from the e-Commerce giant, is set to go live on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Through this initiative, Konga is rolling out a mega platform which has been touted a potential game-changer, offering manufacturers, distributors, resellers as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) an opportunity to take advantage of Konga’s world class assets including its secure regional warehouses, smart offices, cutting-edge technology, advanced logistics capabilities through an internally-owned subsidiary, Kxpress and its Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed payment platform known as KongaPay.
This is in addition to leveraging Konga’s e-Commerce engine and extensive marketing expertise in bringing their products and services to the consciousness of millions of Nigerians nationwide.
In other words, Konga is taking a huge burden off the shoulders of manufacturers and other business owners in Nigeria through this ambitious project.
By allocating physical office and warehouse spaces to partner businesses and placing its many other cutting-edge assets at their disposal, Konga is ushering many into the new normal by bringing succour to corporate entities, many of whom have been encumbered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Konga Bulk will play a very important role, bridging the gap to genuine products and services between manufacturers, distributors, resellers, bulk buyers and consumers.
Resellers and other bulk buyers can also take advantage of best prices available for genuine products exclusively through Konga Bulk.
Kalu Johnson, vice president, Strategic Business, said businesses who sign up on Konga Bulk have a lot to gain.
‘‘Konga Bulk is a very ambitious project which we have positioned as the new normal.
“It is a unique opportunity for manufacturers to take advantage of the huge assets and real estate, both physical and virtual, available at Konga.
‘‘We have invested significantly and strategically in various areas of our operations.
“Today, Konga owns arguably the largest single warehouse space in Lagos in addition to other similar massive infrastructure in other parts of the country such as Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Abuja, Owerri and other locations.
‘‘As a manufacturer, distributor or business owner signed up on Konga Bulk, you no longer have to worry about owning your own office or warehouse space. Nor do you have to bother about the heavy investment in logistics, delivery, payment solution, technology, marketing or activations.
“You can rely on Konga’s world class competencies and assets in these areas.
‘‘Businesses must find a way to rebound from the difficulties occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Konga Bulk, which is focused on ushering in the new normal, is one of the innovations we have come up with to provide a way out,’’ he concluded.
Konga Bulk goes live online at www.konga.com and offline in every Konga retail store nationwide on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Access Bank Reaffirms Support for An Innovative, Smart Lagos State
Mr. Herbert Wigwe, managing director and chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, has said that Access Bank Plc will not relent in supporting innovative programmes aimed at transforming Lagos into a 21st century State driven by technology innovations.
Wigwe spoke yesterday during the finals of the Lagos State Smart Meter Hackathon design held at the Bank’s Corporate Headquarters in Lagos.
An initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Hackathon is aimed at providing affordable electricity meters to the populace by facilitating the design and production of meters that will accelerate efforts towards achieving improvement in energy distribution, monitoring and prevention of revenue leakage.
Wigwe who was represented by Mr Ade Bajomo, executive director, IT & Operations at Access Bank, said that supporting the Hackathon once more reinforces the Bank’s commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of the society.
“Having Hackathon and innovative programmes like this, has always been part and parcel of our DNA in Access Bank. We are forever looking for new things to do to solve real problems in Africa and beyond; new things that would move the life of our people forward.
“We are always looking forward to doing things that would make more people financially independent, driving and enhancing the well-being of the entire society,” he said.
He noted that now the world is witnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and there are Africans working with the rest of the world and using technology to solve the problems of the people.
Wigwe stressed that Access Bank does not exclude the rest of the world when it comes to using technology innovations to address the problems of the people.
“That is why this Hackathon is very important because it’s our people solving our problems and leveraging global solutions to finding our answers to our own problems.
“And that is why at the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), which Access Bank is promoting, we want to have more innovators and innovations that will help in transforming our society for the better,” he said.
The Access Bank boss stated that to see this Hackathon come to light shows the commitment of the Lagos State Government to not only the project, but to the actualization of a smart Lagos, where electricity is accessible and affordable.
He pledged Access Bank’s continued support to the Lagos State Government’s efforts at building a smart state.
Mr. Olalere Odusote, convener of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon and the State’s Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, said that there were very many talented people who applied for the Hackathon, noting that there were 65 submissions in all, out of which its panel of experts reduced the number to the five finalists that participated at the finals of the Hackathon.
“We had the hardware yesterday and we were very impressed with what we saw. We are expecting no less from the software side. We are going to get engaged, look at what they have to offer and then integrate it into our future.
“We are trying to solve our own problems by ourselves. This is just the start; it is not a one-off project. At the end of the event, we will take the product to our prototype mode; we will take the product to a commercial development process,” he said.
The Commissioner said they were not just doing the Hackathon for the sake of it but are looking for solutions that will contribute to making Lagos a 21st Century economy.
He thanked Access Bank for its generosity, support and partnership with the State government. He also thanked other partners for joining in the journey of making Lagos a great state.
Five contenders each emerged from both categories of the competition, and the two winners are expected to share the prize money of seven million naira.
Finalists were shortlisted after a transparent, rigorous and competitive process.
The Hackathon attracted 274 registrations or entries, 127 of which bid in hardware category, while 147 competed in software group.
The five software finalists for the Hackathon on Thursday were Magnitronics, Vectorians, Zeena Platform, Chosen Soft Tech and Gideon.
It would be recall that during the launch of the programme on July 30th, 2020, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu noted that the Smart Metre Hackathon Initiative marked a significant milestone in the implementation of the State Government’s plan towards improving access to electricity.
He said it aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 7 of the United Nations, targeted at achieving universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.
The Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020 was convened by the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, curated by Eko Innovation Centre, and sponsored by Access Bank Plc, Egbin Power, and Ikeja Electric Distribution Company.
Other sponsors include Mojec International, Eko Electric Distribution Company, MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company, ElSewedy Electric, Royal Power & Energy, Venture Garden Group, InfraCredit, and Axxela Limited.
They were supported by the Lagos State Office of Innovation and Technology, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), Oracle, IBM, General Electric, Business Day and Accelerate TV.
The Grand Finale of the Hackathon holds on Friday, September 18, 2020 at Eko Innovation Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos.
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