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Logistics giant with a rich heritage

The international logistics provider Kuehne + Nagel has been active in Africa since 1954. Despite challenges on the continent, Senior Vice President Jan-Dirk Schuisdziara affirms that “Africa is an important market of the future.”

How do South African grapes get to our fruit baskets in cold seasons? Where do we get a fresh bouquet of flowers in the middle of winter? How do European relief supplies reach those in desperate need of them? For over 60 years, Kuehne + Nagel has organised the transport of goods from, to, and within African countries – and has been a member of the German-African Business Association for almost just as long. “In addition to current economic data and country information, the German-African Business Association supports the logistics provider with helpful contacts and suggestions for business activities at the local level”, says Jan-Dirk Schuisdziara.The Senior Vice President of the German Kuehne + Nagel organisation considers the transport of fruits and grapes from South and North Africa to Europe as an important segment for the company in its own right. Cut flowers are air-shipped from East Africa, just as fresh fruit and vegetables are from Egypt. The automotive industry represents a significant segment as well. For a number of internationally active companies located in Africa, Kuehne + Nagel takes on all logistics operations across the country. The company was founded in 1890 in Bremen, and today its core products consist of sea freight, air freight and contract logistics. In addition to these, it also provides solutions for numerous industries, such as supplying the gas and oil industry in West Africa, managing the project logistics for entire industrial facilities, as well as conducting the delivery of relief goods on behalf of international aid organisations. In Germany alone, over a hundred staff are involved with logistics in Africa. LOGISTICS WITH PLANNING AND COMMITMENT “Africa covers an area of 30 million square kilometres – that’s a real challenge for any logistics provider” says Michael Schröder, the company’s sea freight route manager responsible for Africa. Work on the continent is hampered primarily by deficits in infrastructure. “Nevertheless, providing logistics is quite manageable with careful advance planning”, stresses Schröder, pointing out the internationally proven concept of his company: strong global, national and regional management, a globally standardised IT system, as well as well-trained, motivated African and international staff across all levels of the company hierarchy.“Africa has future potential, particularly for German companies”The long-established company has been active in a number of African countries for decades, and is continuously expanding its presence. According to Schuisdziara, the close relationship of the African offices with the Kuehne + Nagel global network allows customised transport and logistics solutions to be offered to an increasing number of clients. With over 70,000 staff and 1,300 offices in more than 100 countries, Kuehne + Nagel is one of the world’s most successful logistics companies. Close familiarity with local conditions is indispensable, particularly in Africa, where transport infrastructure is lacking in many places. This familiarity has been hard won by the company. Kuehne + Nagel has been established in Namibia for decades. With the 1975 opening of the Namibia office, local staff concentrated on the air and sea freight businesses. Four decades later, a team of 50 now works providing an ever-increasing range of services. These now include customs clearance, cross-border road transport to and within the neighbouring countries of Angola and Zambia, as well as the warehousing of non-perishable goods.In addition to Namibia, the company has its own business locations in Angola, Egypt, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. This year, the tenth African office of the logistics giant will be opened in Ghana. In South Africa and Kenya, the company ranks in the top three local freight forwarders. Since 2002, the African business magazine Professional Management Review (PMR) has regularly named Kuehne + Nagel the best freight transporter in South Africa.Jan-Dirk Schuisdziara, a board member of the German-African Business Association for six years, emphasises that “Especially in recent years, I have been able to witness the rapid economic development of many African countries at first hand.” With over a billion inhabitants, he views Africa as a further important future market alongside the rapidly growing economies of the Far East. “Despite the various local challenges, I am convinced of Africa’s future potential, particularly for German companies”. Over the last few years, he has seen a marked increase in average gross domestic product across many African countries – not least because of the steadily increasing interest of foreign investors.