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Africa’s logistics field on fast growth trajectory as funding and opportunities pile up

The African logistics sector is on an upward trajectory as startups in the sector secure growing amounts of funding as the potential for the space to power a commerce revolution on the continent becomes clearer and clearer.

Ola Olaoluwa
Ola Olaoluwa

Though much of the logistics sector’s growth funding-wise over the last few years has been driven by two companies, with more than 80 per cent of the space’s investment total in 2019 raised by Nigeria’s Kobo360 and Kenya’s Lori Systems, we are seeing a trickle-down effect, and startups raising at all levels.

Powered by opportunity

The development of the sector and its increased attractiveness to investors can be attributed to the size of the opportunity. The ability of e-logistics solutions to power the growth of African commerce – and e-commerce – as that undergoes a revolution of sorts is key.

Image Credit: Stock Image

Tonye Membere-Otaji is founder of Nigerian company MVXchange, a tech-driven maritime platform that matches vessel charter requests with available Offshore Support Vessels (OSVs), helping users conveniently charter vessels while reducing man-hours, cutting costs and improving performance. He says local and international investors and entrepreneurs are more aware of opportunities in Africa’s logistics space than ever before.

Oumar Basse is chief executive officer (CEO) of Senegal’s Yobante Express, an online marketplace connecting users with local couriers that has expanded into multiple markets across the continent. He says logistics is one of the fundamental factors in the development of any trade, and also to be a determinant of the success of online business, and thus startups operating in this space are of crucial importance.

Africa’s commerce revolution

Fuelling the growth of commerce on the continent is at the heart of the logistics opportunity, says Jean-Claude Homawoo, co-founder of Lori Systems, a tech-driven logistics services that, as mentioned previously, is a big fundraiser.

E-hailing solutions have many of the answers here, hence the sector’s swift growth. Lori, for example, effectively coordinates transactions between shippers and transporters using data to reduce waste and lower costs.

This all comes together to create a virtuous cycle, says Kennedy Nyabwala, CEO of Kenya’s Bwala, a last mile logistics marketplace that has itself secured funding.

Free trade is coming

Logistics companies are also well-positioned for the future, with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) signed last year with the goal of creating a continental free trade area to accelerate intra-African trade. Logistics companies are set to benefit.

A funded future

All of this suggests logistics startups on the continent can expect a bright future. With 16 logistics companies already having receiving around US$40 million in total investment in 2020 so far, according to Disrupt Africa figures, the sector is on course to equal or better last year’s record.

Digital inclusion

Ola Olaoluwa

Writer | Economist | Actor | Fashion Entrepreneur