Thinking of trading with Africa? Robert Keen, Director General of the British International Freight Association, takes a look at some of the things to consider from a logistics perspective if you are planning to try to capitalise on the opportunities that the continent offers for British businesses looking to expand their overseas operations
Home to more than 50 countries, not only is Africa a diverse continent, but also a resilient one. Since 2010, more than 15 of its economies registered growth rates higher than five per cent despite a slow recovery from the global recession. As the world economy cautiously recovers, Africa’s progress is expected to accelerate, with the world’s emerging economies continuing to grow more quickly than the more developed ones.
The freight forwarding industry can provide a range of key services to traders looking to do business with Africa, taking over on your behalf many of the responsibilities involved in transporting your goods to and from the continent as quickly, securely and affordably as possible.
As well as arranging the transport of your goods – whether by air, sea, rail or road – freight forwarders frequently provide other services in areas such as customs clearance, export documentation and insurance. They often offer distribution, warehousing, packaging and other supply chain services. Most forwarders will look after specific parts of the process for exporters and can often offer control of the entire transport process. Many transport and logistics operators also offer freight forwarding services.
The role of a freight forwarder is to help importers and exporters transport their goods. Many freight forwarders specialise in particular service areas, modes of transport or markets. Freight forwarders are often seen as the travel agents of international trading. If you have a consignment of goods you need to move from country A to country B, a forwarder will identify and book the best routes, modes of transport and specific carriers dependent on your requirements.