The role of supply chains is rapidly changing, driven by a global business movement towards digitisation. Most companies regardless of size are seeking to transform their supply chain functions, with varying degrees of success, as they struggle to keep astride with an onslaught of digital trends that are disrupting traditional supply chain management.
South African ports saw over 3 million tonnes of breakbulk goods in 2018, and reports show that this growth trend is indeed projected to continue increasing well into the future. Moving over-dimensional or heavy-lift cargo is no small feat, whether it is massive earth moving yellow equipment bound for copper mines in Zambia or turbine components for a Northern Cape wind farm, transportation and logistics demands are considerably greater as they are unique to each situation.
Cash flow allows an organisation to pursue opportunities that enhance value. This may indeed become tricky when importing the goods required to run a business becomes an expensive and complex process, including costs associated with moving the goods, as well as duties and taxes requiring payment once the goods have arrived and clearing required before collection. These activities can result in tied up cash leading to reduced efficiency.
From shoes made in China to crude oil from India, the ability for businesses to ship goods by sea has brought about global economic benefit. Every year billions of tonnes of goods are shipped along major trade routes, in South Africa alone over R133 billion worth of goods were shipped around the world in 2018.
African economies have in recent years experienced a surge in business activity, thanks in part to the emergence of an increasingly prosperous middle class. This consumer boom has not only strained retail supply chains but has placed overwhelming demands on national utilities. The World Bank states that more than 25 African countries face an energy crisis, yet the continent abounds with untapped renewable energy resources. Throughout the continent, electricity supply is constrained, and often erratic with damaging ramifications to local economies and crucial infrastructure such as hospitals, telecommunication networks and water supplies to name a few. These challenges within the energy sector are exacerbated by the absence of contemporary energy services and more often than not, poor infrastructure. The need, therefore, to seek out alternative energy solutions is now an imperative for the continent.