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Logistics Lessons

Learning with and from our African partners

by Fabian Wagner and Andre Schwarz (30.04.2021)

Let's start with the obvious: of course it makes more sense for the local supplier to organise the logistics to Europe, right? This realisation cost us some time and grey hairs, but also tells us a lot about the way we see ourselves and the logistical structures between Europe and Africa, especially during the pandemic.

Read why here.

West Africa

On the global map of goods flows, the port of Ghana, Tema, does not feature prominently. As a result, container shipments have to wait for a long time before they can be shipped. What is less relevant for raw materials is crucial for processed end products such as chocolate or cosmetics, which need to be stored in a cool place. The offer from our logistics service provider to rent an entire refrigerated container therefore appeared to be the only viable option in the crisis situation. Particularly if the additional cargo from Benin could also be transported in the container. Between Ghana and Benin, however, lies Togo, which had long since closed its borders to neighbouring countries. And so a distance of just over 300km becomes more than 1,500km by going around Togo. After some discussions with our logistics partner, Jake from TambourOriginal in Benin checked possible options with his transport agent and quickly found a solution for transporting the bottles by air to Germany. Freda from KAEME also found a quick and hassle-free solution for the cosmetics.

South Africa

Papama, the founder of AYTIN in South Africa, was pragmatic, open and more organised than us right from the start. When we went over our price calculation with her, she was amazed at the logistics costs we had calculated. We quickly agreed with her that she would take care of the logistics to Europe and we would simply pay a surcharge on the purchase price. What can we say: the ordered goods were on their way to Europe quickly and without any problems.

East Africa

Our goal to ship both products out of the country in the same container failed because the consolidated container in the port of Mombasa did not get full during the pandemic. The goods from Kenya do not need to be refrigerated, but even here the tropical climate can cause the goods to start moulding if they are stored for too long. We therefore had the goods transported back to Nairobi so that they do not spoil at the port. Somoye from Miyonga then organised the transport by airfreight to Germany.

What did we learn?

1. a large part of our end products come to us logistically optimised via the major " long-haul roads": from China or the USA. We are one of the few importers who import finished products from African countries. It is done and it is possible, but it also costs a lot more.

But that doesn't stop us, it spurs us on! - #unique

2. steering the logistics chain of the individual products from the respective countries out of Germany was a big mistake. We are not on site and do not know the specific local structures. Therefore, we should trust our local partners and just let them do it. Sounds banal, but it actually is true.

We still see a lot of room for enlightenment! - #Empowerment

3. we want to act sustainably, but with our small quantities we are still dependent on air freight or so-called consolidated containers, which are often not full in times of Corona.

From there: "Join us in filling the container!" - #sustainable

The Authors

Published on: 30.04.2021