South Africa is a long way from Germany, so how is it that Germany should become the central European gateway for goods originating in the southern most African country?
Logistics Alliance Germany, in short, LAG is meant to bring representatives of the German logistics sector together with potential partners from South Africa.
This was at least the initial aim at the recently held Air Cargo Africa conference in Johannesburg.
The simple aim is: To ensure that more goods being transported out of South Africa to Europe, are passing through Germany.
Does this then make sense?
The LAG focus rests presently on air freight traffic from South Africa to Europe.
This would make sense due to the fact that the greater proportion of exports from South Africa to Europe in terms of goods value is by air.
The figures for 2013 show that goods to the value of €28.5 billion were traded between South Africa and the European Union.
Stefan Schroeder, Executive Director of the newly formed Logistics Alliance states: “South Africa is a market that is full of opportunities for German companies and it also opens doors to other African markets in the region.”
Munich airport takes the lead
The case for using Germany as the ideal hub for taking delivery and of distributing goods all over Europe was highlighted in Johannesburg by Markus Heinelt, Direct of Cargo Traffic Development at Munich airport.
He explained to those present that the Bavarian capital offers prime time flights to both Johannesburg and Cape Town and that in his view there have already been positive developments in this direction.
The LAG team sees the South African automotive industry as well as the perishable markets out of South Africa as being the most important sectors where they can make best use of this project.
South Africa still has an important automotive industry based in and around Port Elizabeth. German car manufacturers such as Volkswagen and BMW have had production plants here for many years.
Project is still in its infancy stages
LAG is a public/private partnership project linking the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure with the German logistics industry.
The goal is to market Germany as a logistics base and German logistics & services under the general heading “Logistics Made in Germany.”
It is not quite clear as to whether the South African venture is in this sense a pilot scheme, or if LAG also has other regions in the pipeline.
Admittedly, the scheme is in its infancy stages and there is surely much work down the line in order to convince shippers in South Africa to firstly become better acquainted with project and then eventually become part of the transport chain.
The question remains as to whether LAG can put a programme together which will convince shippers and consignees alike as to whether German airports such as Munich and Frankfurt can act as European distribution gateways for South Africa.
A long way to go yet!
John Mc Donagh