Logistics firm eyes bigger market pie after MSC pact, rebrand

Jason Reynard Chief Executive Officer Bollore Africa Logistics East Africa Region. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Logistics firm Bollore Africa Logistics recently rebranded into Africa Global Logistics (AGL).

This followed the $6.1 billion (Sh793 billion) acquisition by global shipping giant MSC, which AGL Regional Managing Director East Africa Jason Reynard said highlights the long-term commitment of the company to invest in Africa’s supply chains and infrastructure.

Mr Reynard also discusses the company’s green goals which involve the adoption of electric forklifts, electric bikes, use of biofuels and increased use of Standard Gauge Railway to cut carbon emissions.

The company indicated that AGL will be more intentional in its sustainability and carbon reduction footprint. How are you incorporating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) in your operations?

Strengthening AGL’s commitment to ESG, the recent acquisition of 17 electric forklifts and reach stackers signifies a major stride towards a more sustainable future for our operations across Africa. We are also experimenting with biofuels for our transport fleet and EV motorcycles. This aligns perfectly with AGL’s established focus on transparent ESG reporting, as evidenced by our publications aligned with Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards. This certainly demonstrates our commitment to sustainability reflected in tangible actions that have a positive impact in the environment and aligning with the evolving needs of our clients, at the heart of Africa’s Transformation.

What investments is AGL Group looking to make in Kenya and the region?

To demonstrate our commitment to African logistics, we’ve secured land in Kenya’s Naivasha Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and in Athi River to expand our footprint and reinforce our strategic positioning for growth in cargo handling. Alongside this investment, we’ve also acquired 25 new trucks dedicated to Ugandan routes and upgraded our Mombasa Logistics Hub with the purchase of an additional projects base and new Heavy Lift and project equipment. We strongly believe Kenya will be a central player in shaping the future of African logistics.

How do you view the transport and logistics market in Kenya in terms of growth and potential, and what areas are ripe for expansion for your company in the region?

Kenya’s strategic positioning and robust economic landscape provide a fertile ground for the transport and logistics sector’s growth. With its advantageous geographic location, skilled labour force, and resilient economy, Kenya serves as a pivotal player in facilitating intra-Africa trade. The ongoing investments in infrastructure, including projects like the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and the development of Inland Container Depots (ICDs), are enhancing the efficiency of the transport network, while the burgeoning economy, particularly in sectors like manufacturing and agriculture, is driving the demand for seamless logistics solutions. Additionally, the surge in e-commerce activities and Kenya’s potential as a regional hub further bolster the prospects for the sector’s expansion.

What is your take on the local rail and road network and would you say the firm and generally the industry has benefited from Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) operations and the Naivasha SEZ?

SGR offers a more efficient and potentially cheaper way to move large volumes of cargo over long distances compared to road transport. This benefits our clients by reducing overall logistics costs. By taking bulk cargo off the roads, SGR can help alleviate congestion on major highways, potentially improving travel times and reducing wear and tear on road infrastructure. The Naivasha SEZ will potentially further enhance the logistics sector accessing markets in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Last year, the AGL Kenya team initiated a transformative project with the aim of prioritising rail transport more than ever before where our clients trusted us to select the mode of transport for their cargo, reducing carbon emissions by 394 tonnes of greenhouse gases. The team successfully transported 1,199 TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) via the SGR cargo train from Mombasa to Nairobi ICD and 856 TEUs via the Meter Gauge Railway cargo train to Malaba. This reduction is equivalent to the emissions from 80 petrol-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year, covering the mileage of an average petrol-powered passenger vehicle over 916,291 miles, matching the electricity use of 70 homes for one year, charging 43,478,825 smartphones, and growing 5,910 tree seedlings over a period of 10 years. This is key for our future and sustainable logistics implementation.

What improvements would you like to see in the transport and logistics sector in Kenya right from the port of Mombasa?

The Kenyan government has made commendable strides in advancing and improving the transport and logistics sector, particularly at Mombasa port. However, continued advancements are needed in three key areas to unlock its full efficiency and competitiveness. The first is port efficiency, which would entail upgrading technology, increasing capacity and streamlining processes to speed up cargo movement. The second one is inland connectivity by promoting multimodal transport, optimising SGR usage, and expanding ICDs for faster delivery.

The third area is the overall sector enhancement through reducing red tape, investing in skilled workers and fostering regional collaboration.

These improvements will certainly make Kenya’s logistics sector more efficient and competitive.

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