Ghana’s Logistics Flagship
Celebrating a decade in existence, BAJ Freight and Logistics Limited continues to propel the reputation of Ghanaian freight forwarding services on the international stage
Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Josh Mann
“I personally think the industry is a very interesting one and full of adventures. As long as there is trade there is a constant need for freight forwarders, hence our business is here to address this need.
“We therefore see our profession as a calling. This is where we have drawn and continue to draw our inspiration from. Besides, I think with this business, one is opened to the world, its innovations and its vast opportunities.”
Joseph Biney is full of optimism when it comes to his country’s logistics trade.
A proud Ghanaian and CEO of BAJ Freight and Logistics Limited (BAJ), in the decade his company has been in existence he has seen a sea change in how the sector conducts itself.
“I think that the industry keeps improving by the day,” Biney continues. “With more multinational companies coming in who want to see a job well done, logistics companies wishing to get a piece of the pie with them have had to step up their game and meet the high standards that are demanded.
“With tighter competition and industry growth, these international companies now require fully certified management systems as well as well-established ethics and compliance programmes.
“On the whole, I would say that there are still areas of opportunity in the sector, but we have definitely improved from where we were 10 years ago. Companies today are more efficient and more sophisticated. I can say that the logistics business in Ghana is improving and improving very fast.”
Although BAJ was incorporated in 2009, its three founders’ collaboration dates back almost 30 years.
Indeed, the acronym BAJ derives from their first names – Fred Bart Simpson (known as Bart), Ato Quagraine and current CEO Joseph Biney – and the trio’s collective efforts, along with their team of dedicated staff, have helped put Ghanaian logistics on the map.
This is evidenced in a number of internationally recognised certifications, including OHSAS 18001:2007 for health and safety and TRACE, the world’s leading anti-bribery standard setting organisation.
BAJ has also been recognised in the form of repeated industry awards, winning five separate accolades alone last year, the most prestigious being the 2018 West African Outstanding Haulage Company and Ghana Business Logistics Company of the Year.
“Looking back from its incorporation and reflecting on all the successful delivery to our wide range of clients, we can say that we have come a long way,” Biney adds.
“This has become possible through strong leadership, sound corporate governance and dedicated staff. Reaching this decade milestone gives us the confidence that we can face the future and we are poised to carry on doing whatever it takes to achieve greater heights.”
Biney’s words are reflected in activity on the ground.
BAJ is embarking on an ambitious expansion project at Takoradi Port, currently building a 31,000-square-metre facility to cater for oil and gas clients. A third of this space will be used as a warehouse with the remainder being utilised for a lay area.
“Our development here is going to be one of the major attractions to any offshore company wanting to do business in Ghana,” says Biney.
“Offshore activities are about ports, and any company that has this facility will help its clients improve their efficiency. We are right in the middle of the port, and we have all the equipment and manpower to handle cargo within it.”
Biney also outlines plans to expand into other West African countries as a precursor to wider international growth.
“We are looking to be present in at least two to three countries in the sub region,” he continues.
“We are already involved in cross-border transportation – we move cargo from Ghana all the way to Nigeria, Niger and Ivory Coast. All the same, we plan to establish our presence within some of these countries in the coming year as oil discovery is ongoing.”
These bold activities and ambitions are what Biney believes helps to stand BAJ apart from other logistics providers in Ghana.
The company is willing to take risks in pioneering projects. For instance, it is the first local logistics company to obtain a licence from the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission to handle and transport radioactive sources.
BAJ is also the first Ghanaian company to acquire a 20-axle line modular trailer that can handle up to 800 tonnes of cargo at a time, the company now in a position to provide total logistical support.
“We believe in the old adage – nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Biney adds. “We take high risks, not blindly, but based on forward thinking and well thought through enterprise risk assessment.”
The other key point of difference, for Biney, is his staff’s determination to deliver the job no matter how challenging.
This attitude is testament to the company’s commitment to training, mentoring and coaching, development which goes beyond the mandatory skills required by the industry and ensures BAJ can keep up with the sector’s technological advancements.
BAJ’s positive attitude towards expansion and seizing opportunities leaves Biney confident about the future for both his company and the country’s logistics industry writ large.
“Fortunately for Ghana, we are advantageously located with a long coastline,” he says. “We also have a peaceful and stable country, which allows companies to feel confident about bringing their cargo into our ports and be certain that it will reach its final destination.
“The fact that we neighbour landlocked countries, as well as francophone countries, ensures that for every cargo that has one of these neighbouring countries as final destination, we act as a point of entry.”
Biney also eludes to lessons learned from the 2010 crisis in Ivory Coast, a time which saw several nearby countries use Tema Port as an alternative gateway. While this provided an uptick in business, it demonstrated the need for Ghana to increase its capacity to handle cargo, something which BAJ is actively addressing through its own expansion project at Takoradi.
What the 2010 episode did show, however, is that Ghana has the capability to deal with freight forwarding and logistics operations of all kinds, something which Biney wants to build on by attracting foreign investors both in terms of finance and technological knowhow.
He concludes buoyantly: “We see more major international companies coming in. This in turn means that local companies in the supply chain will be under obligation not only to practice working to meet international standards, but to be accredited to, and continually maintain international management systems.
“It also means that national accreditation bodies and other support services will need to step up their game. Overall, this will enhance trade and have a positive economic impact on the country.”