DHL Global Forwarding (DGF) has been actively participating in Africa’s development with the launch of UbuntuConnect, Saloodo! and many freighter services connecting the continent with China, Middle East, US among others. Founder of Saloodo! and having worked across Europe, Africa and Asia, Amadou Diallo, chief executive officer, DGF Middle East & Africa speaks about the partnership with Ethiopian Airlines, supporting AfCFTA, and the company’s vision for Africa.

When it comes to health care, you have launched a 100-tonne weekly air freight service from China to the Middle East and Africa. How the route has been profitable to DGF and what is carried on rotation to China?

UbuntuConnect was a weekly service we launched back in April 2020, for organisations and governments shipping goods, mainly essential medical items from China to Africa and the Middle East. Capitalising on Dubai's geographical location as the gateway to countries in the region, we consolidated cargo from across China and air freight them via Dubai to their various destinations across Africa and the Middle East, all within two or three days.

At the time of the pandemic, countries were grappling with the lack of essential supplies, and the impact was more keenly felt in the region where routes were already limited, and there were multiple flight cancellations. Now that the supply chains for these essential items have normalised, all shipments from China to the region are tracking well as we continue to secure capacity across different airlines that we work with. Having said that, we will keep assessing the situation and make adjustments as and when needed.

We connect the continent to the world, made possible by the hubs such as Brussels, Lagos, and Leipzig, as well as our gateways in Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, and Dubai.

Will you be planning for a dedicated freighter service in Africa like you have launched in Sep 2020 between China-Amsterdam-US-South Korea?

We are global enablers of trade, so our customers can count on us to continually assess the market conditions and needs, to ensure that we meet their business objectives. The UbuntuConnect service which we launched last year is a clear example of how we can carve out specific routes and capacity that the region needs, by working with our airline partners and the global network. Our joint venture with Ethiopian Airlines is also an asset, which we fully leveraged to connect the continent with the rest of the world.

We also launched a carbon calculator to predict transport-related emissions.

How the decarbonisation for LCL shipments effective January 1 this year, serves as an important mission to DGF’s business?

In line with Deutsche Post DHL Group’s mission to achieve zero logistics-related carbon emissions by 2050, we have committed to neutralising the carbon emissions of all less-than-container load (LCL) ocean freight shipments, to lead the transition to clean and sustainable sea freight transport. The CO2 compensation for all LCL shipments will be achieved by using maritime biofuels, utilising existing and new partnerships.

At no extra cost to the customer, the heavy oil that would ordinarily be used is replaced with sustainable marine biofuel onboard a preselected container vessel. In this way, true carbon neutralisation is achieved. The CO2-reduction benefits are allocated to the customer.

In addition, DHL Global Forwarding has a GoGreen carrier evaluation programme, which allows the freight forwarder to partner closely with carriers that have a strong environmental performance. We also launched a carbon calculator to predict transport-related emissions for almost all shipment sizes and modes of transport. With this, customers can determine in advance the exact environmental impact of their shipment, anytime and at no extra cost.

You are a key player in the introduction of Saloodo. With long-term experience in the African region, what do you think needs to be changed in Africa to make it an exciting hub for trade?

It’s no secret that Africa has its share of challenges. Talent retention, a lack of adequate logistics infrastructure and ongoing changes and reviews of the regulatory framework remain key challenges. But the African market has proven itself ahead of the curve in many respects, with countless opportunities lying just beneath the surface.

As an African myself, I’m proud of how far we have come. I think we are at a very important juncture now, where we are seeing waves of change that will help propel the region forward. As the world’s youngest continent, we have a dynamic generation of digitally-minded young adults, demanding access to international markets, driven by e-commerce which has to be fuelled by smart, digital solutions. This mindset makes Africans more open to change and capable of adopting new technology much faster.

We need to change the way we do business and embrace digital transformation – it is exactly this vision that prompted us to launch Saloodo! in Europe back in 2017 and subsequently extending that to Africa in 2019. With Saloodo! now available across the entire continent, it is heartening to see that our digital road freight marketplace has made so many inroads in boosting intra-regional trade, which is a key proponent of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

It is easy to pass this off as blind optimism, but I can assure you that nobody knows Africa as we do. We have been here doing business for decades, and with our global network, and grasp of local nuances, we have a long heritage of connecting people and improving lives with an unparalleled footprint across the continent. While the pace of growth may be curtailed by the ongoing pandemic, it will be a misstep to glance over the continent’s potential. Given this, we are working closely with our customers to support their businesses, so they can continue to tap into international markets.

Your partnership with Longhorn Vaccines & Diagnostics is a crucial one in times of crisis. How many Covid-19 testing vials are expected to reach Kenya?

Longhorn is donating one million tubes of its PrimeStore Molecular Transport Medium (MTM) to increase the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 testing of refugees and displaced persons in Kenya, Nepal and the Philippines. Our partnership with Longhorn sees us delivering these testing vials by tapping into our global network of experienced Life Science and Healthcare (LSH) logistics specialists, to support the fight against Covid-19 worldwide.

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