The African continent has massive economic potential and fostering trade plays a critical role in stimulating various growing industries such as financial services, energy and technology. However, a lack of infrastructure and challenging customs procedures continue to pose logistical challenges for South African and global businesses, particularly in landlocked countries such as Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“Establishing reliable trade lanes between the continent and the rest of the world is key to stimulating Africa’s economy-generating industries in order to meet the growing needs of its customers,” says Maersk Line’s Bruce Marshall, country manager for Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
“Increasing trade activity between landlocked countries and the rest of Africa and the world will not only stimulate their own economies, but also assist them to become more self-sufficient,” he states.
Pointing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Jonathan Horn, managing director of Maersk Line in Southern Africa, highlights that the eighth goal seeks to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.
“It is important to raise awareness of the importance of trade between Africa and global markets, as it is the cornerstone of sustainable economic growth and can be an engine that drives employment and growth in Africa’s economies.”
Horn explains that the key to achieving optimal trade is a perfect marriage between maritime, road and rail transportation, depot and warehousing facilities. “Experienced partners possess the necessary expert knowledge to provide solutions and reliable transportation of goods, as well as have representation in the relevant countries,” he adds.
Africa’s need for energy
Marshall says that an example of the one of the commercial opportunities present in Africa is the need for energy. “This has been recognised by global exporters of energy products such as China. Africa is the ideal place for alternative and innovative energy solutions, as many countries cannot depend on conventional electricity resources.”
Energy exporters such as China, which is currently the biggest exporter to these landlocked regions, supply products such as solarised traffic and street lights, solar lamps, torches, inverters, generators, solar panels and other alternative energy sources.
Marshall notes that there is a very strong relationship between Asian energy manufacturers and reliable trade partners that distribute these energy products to the importers in various African regions, which in the past, may have been unable to access international supply chains and global markets.
See the role that trade can play in Africa. Click here to watch the Maersk Group short-film.