DHL Express invests in light of increased African security measures
Globally, the increased concern around public safety has resulted in the intensification of security measures for transportation of goods internationally. Businesses which trade internationally need to be aware of the security measures in place to mitigate the risk to their operations and their people.
This is according to Oliver Facey, Vice President of Operations for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), who was speaking in light of the recent announcement of Sudan, South Sudan and Djibouti joining the list of red countries, a classification which results in strict security measures being imposed on goods transported across the country’s borders. The African countries currently classified as red countries include Niger, Nigeria, Mali, and Somalia.
Countries across the globe are classified according to their security risk profiles and are either regarded as red, white or green. The classification determines the level of security measures applicable to the countries, and include various restrictions on the items that can be transported, as well as the screening levels packages need to be subjected to before being cleared for transportation to the EU and US.
A red country is considered high risk due to potential national security concerns. Similarly, a white country is considered to have a certain level of risk, but not as high a security risk as a red country whereas green countries, such as France, have a minimal security risk level.
Facey says that the nature and degree of security is changing, and that society at large needs to be aware of the possible implications. “The business-to-consumer (B2C) market in SA is growing with the emergence of e-commerce and the increased demand for consumer goods. The rise of the SME has also resulted in greater variety and accessibility to new and competing products. Goods are now just a click away, and can be sourced and ordered from anywhere in the world.”
He explains that global security breaches, such as terrorist threats and the trading of illegal substances, have resulted in the global transportation of goods being subjected to a number of security regulations, largely driven by the European Union (EU) and United States (US).
“In order to trade with the EU and US, red countries have to comply with set regulations and conditions. There are however certain challenges in select red African countries. For example, in Nigeria, a certain airline will be compliant with the regulations, but the country’s airport is not – which results in a package needing to be redirected so that it can undergo the required security tests and authorisation.”
In order to counteract these challenges and to assist local businesses and individuals to trade internationally, DHL Express has invested over €3 million in the last two years to improve security processes in select SSA countries.
Facey says that while the regulations should not hamper trade between certain red countries and the rest of the world, consumers and businesses need to be aware of them and understand that certain items cannot be moved as easily as others.
“Additional time needs to be spent on planning as certain items may need to be rerouted to countries in order for them to be screened and cleared for shipping. When it comes to global opportunities, knowledge is key to success for many businesses; and knowing which markets to target, how to market their product, how to identify customers, how to get paid and critically, how to ship globally. It’s important to have a trusted partner to assist you, not only with complying with the regulations, but to assist with solutions to ensure that your products reach the desired recipient.” concludes Facey.
DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry and is part of Deutsche Post DHL Group, which generated revenues of more than €56 billion in 2014. With more than 325,000 employees in over 220 countries and territories worldwide, they connect people and businesses securely and reliably, enabling global trade flows.
By Oliver Facey, Vice President of Operations for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa.
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks.
A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so.
What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.
"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"
That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.
But where has this skills shortage stemmed from?
Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.
COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.
It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing.
So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done?
Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change.
Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.
Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line.
On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains.
Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months.
Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector