Built to Back African Business
With a fully integrated approach to freight, Reload Logistics is inspiring integration and driving development across borders with its best-in-class service offering
Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Lewis Bush
Africa – a land brimming with untapped potential.
While roughly 16 percent of the global population can be found on the continent, current figures suggest its 54 countries account for just two percent of global trade.
But 2020 marks a new decade and a new era.
Africa is on the brink of transition; its leaders having realised the continent’s potential and the crucial role it can play in the global commodity supply chain.
Of course, the success of this transition will be highly dependent on the continued development of transport infrastructure, investment into which is on the up.
GlobalData forecasts that $69 billion will be spent across 448 large-scale African transport construction projects during 2020, a rise on the $47.1 billion spent in 2019.
Combined, these projects will create an additional 75,297 kilometres of newly constructed roads, bridges and railways upon completion – a web of physical links that will pave the way for regional trade to blossom.
“Logistics in Africa is super exciting with many challenges and many opportunities,” explains Ruud Walgaard, CEO of Reload Logistics – one company for which the future looks incredibly bright given the transport-focussed emphasis enrolling across the region.
“It is for sure more exciting here than in Europe or elsewhere. The industry outlook in Southern Africa, for example, is very positive, with new mining projects coming online and bolstering the flow of goods within the region.”
So, where does Reload Logistics fit into this thriving sector?
As a matter of fact, it is already recognised as a major contributor to the Southern African supply chain.
With strategic footprints in each of the region’s key markets, it handles and moves more than one million tonnes of essential resources a year, from minerals to metals to soft commodities, helping to galvanise local businesses and motivate trade and transactions.
“We are a key player in offering complete logistics services to facilitate the link between supply and demand for various traders and essential commodities such as minerals, metals, tobacco, cotton, sugar, fertiliser and soft commodities,” Walgaard affirms.
“We provide full logistics services to international customers from landlocked countries to ports and subsequently any place in the world.
“Our brand’s success is built on offering solid, reliable and diversified services to our clients. We operate in countries that move quickly and constantly and are therefore always close to the operation to anticipate and react to new situations with speed and efficiency.”
Reload’s five core pillars
Indeed, Reload Logistics is a company with an esteemed value-added offering, the company priding itself on five key points of difference.
First is its ongoing investment into an unrivalled physical asset base that includes 12 warehouses situated in key strategic locations across Southern Africa. In total, these facilities comprise 700,000 square metres of warehousing space, backed up by a fleet of 320 trucks.
“As a freight forwarder, Reload Logistics has invested massively in heavy infrastructure which allows the group to ensure service delivery without sole reliance on third parties,” Waalgaard explains. “Reload Group’s suppliers and key partners complement its asset base which increases our overall capabilities.
“Owing to our ongoing growth we are expanding our network, but those suppliers who have supported Reload Logistics from the beginning have a special place in our hearts.”
Through these foundations comes a second key differentiator in the form of efficient management spanning the entire logistics chain, from critical transport and warehousing activities to clearing operations and shipping.
Here, Maxime Budan, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, enters the conversation and highlights a range of capabilities.
“Our trucks can transport commodities from mine to warehouse to port; we’re able to store, sample, reweigh, bag and handle goods in our warehouses; our clearing allows us to fast track any cargo, trucks or trains across borders; and we provide sea freight services from ports anywhere in the world,” he reveals.
Likewise, having local managers on the ground in Ndola, Dar Es Salaam, Lubumbashi, Johannesburg, Beira and Durban ensures the company is always close to the client and therefore able to respond to and solve any issues in an efficient and rapid manner.
“This is very much appreciated by our customers. It gives them comfort that their cargo is in safe hands at all times during transit from source to the final destination,” Budan comments, the CFO then pointing to Reload Logistics’ focus on legal compliance and its staff as the final two pillars upon which it has built its success.
“Fourthly, we provide our services in a legal and compliant framework which has allowed the group to attract international companies to the region. This was not the case previously, as companies did not receive enough comfort in terms of the overall framework of operation,” Walgaard states.
“And finally, we invest in our people, providing them with the best tools to grow, perform and in turn support the company’s upward trajectory.”
This latter segment is particularly close to the hearts of both Walgaard and Budan.
Their goal is to invest in local people in particular, Reload Logistics’ employees sent on training courses and given the opportunity to cross borders, gaining international exposure and an understanding of varying logistics-related nuances of multiple Southern African countries.
“We are proud to see specialists from Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique working in our Zambian warehouse,” Walgaard affirms. “We consider our people to be our greatest and most important asset. They excel in looking after our clients’ daily needs.”
Realising the potential
Moving forward, this list of key strategic urban areas will only continue to expand as Reload Logistics further broadens and consolidates its reach across the Southern Africa region.
Right now, the company is in the process of establishing itself in Angola and Namibia, its overall warehouse facilities footprint expected to reach one million square metres by the end of 2020.
“We’re optimistic that this enlargement will complete our presence,” Budan comments, “and we’re also looking at extending our fleet.
“Reputation and reliability are vital to logistics in Africa.
Our clients, mainly commodity traders and mining houses, appreciate our commitment to speed, quality and accuracy – characteristics that are already upheld by our existing assets, but ones that will be bolstered by these new efforts.”
Unquestionably, the coming year will be a busy one for Reload Logistics as it continues to sustain its one-stop logistics shop status and growing platform that is renowned for world-class service.
And likewise, the general industry backdrop in which it is operating is similarly promising.
Not only is the continent forecast to receive roughly $69 billion in transport infrastructure investments this year, but plans to build or expand five major ports (in Barra do Danda and Lobito in Angola, Lekki in Nigeria, Musoma in Tanzania and Lamu in Kenya) are also in the works, set to drastically improve Africa’s connections with the rest of the world.
What’s more, the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) implemented last year has already begun to transform intercontinental trade, drawing an influx of multinational firms that are beginning to recognise the long-term prospects offered by an African operation.
These developments stand to benefit Reload Logistics dramatically moving forward, the company perfectly positioned to contribute to the realisation of Africa’s true potential.
“We are certainly looking to the future,” the Chief Executive expresses as our conversation comes to a close.
“Markets are growing and attracting new players from Europe and Asia. Yet it is our solid investments, our people and our dynamism that gives me confidence that we will not only maintain but grow our market share.”