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Digital tech boosts supply chain in the midst of COVID-19

Africa , 24 Mar 2021

The continued restriction of movement has affected the supply chain sector leading to adoption of new technologies to improve the import and movements of goods.

According to Alioune Ciss, CEO of port logistics and trade technology company Webb Fontaine, new technologies such as AI, Machine learning and blockchain are increasingly being adopted in the continent at various landing ports, even during COVID-19.

“We use IOT in tracking movement of containers throughout Africa. In the world of trade and customs it is important to know where your lorries or trucks are. We are also working with artificial intelligence and machine learning in our smartfraud detection, which are tools that allow customs to determine fraud with historical data,” added Ciss.

The pandemic has seen a shift towards a digital way of doing business in terms of trade and port logistics, which has resulted in an increase in income in some countries.

In its white paper on the effects of COVID-19 and trade, Webb Fontaine stated that in 2020 the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) collected more revenue than in 2019, due to the digitalisation of custom processes.

“We have seen in several Africa countries, government revenues triple due to digitalisation of trade and custom processes,” Ciss stated.

A 2020 report by research company ODI and Africa Trade Policy Centre titled Africa trade and Covid-19: The supply chain dimension concurs with Webb Fontain’s view of increase in digitilisation.

“In response to supply chain risks and disruptions as a result of Covid-19, many global lead firms have also relied on ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies. Future GVCs are likely to embody higher levels of automation, which can facilitate more flexible adjustment to changing demand, mitigating firms’ risks in the event of a pandemic or other shock,” the report states.

The e-Conomy Africa 2020 report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) adds that: “Investments in the private logistics sector are enabling an increase in the movement of goods and services; more investments and interest in the sector could catalyse even broader development across the entire ecosystem.”

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