DHL Africa is optimistic about air cargo in 2013

By Freddie Pierce
Despite the current global economic uncertainty, Africa is likely to record stable growth throughout 2013, according to Charles Brewer atDHL Express A...


Despite the current global economic uncertainty, Africa is likely to record stable growth throughout 2013, according to Charles Brewer at DHL Express Africa.


Brewer claims the growth will be as a result of the traditional oil and energy sector, increased consumer spending and economic activity, which remains the main driver of air cargo traffic on the continent.


“We predict that in Africa, we will see solid single digit volume growth in the short term led by the oil, energy and mining sectors, and solid double digit growth in the medium term as e-commerce grows and manufacturing takes root within the region.”


Brewer predicts that within the Sub-Saharan region, routes between Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Uganda will grow as a result of major investment into those markets and their positive economic indicators as well as other factors such as oil and gas finds, or regulatory changes.


“In 2013, according to our own data and volume trends, we predict that South Africa’s main trading partner within Africa will be Nigeria, due to the high volume of technology and electronic goods shipped into that country. From a global perspective, Sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest growing partner will be the Asia Pacific region, which has recently instituted new ties with Africa as it looks to secure sources of raw materials to fuel the future expansion of the region.”


According to IATA, global cargo volumes contracted by two percent in 2012 due to low business confidence. According to Brewer, this was not the case at DHL Africa: “DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa recorded solid single digit growth in 2012, despite high fuel prices and a slowing world economy, and is therefore positive about 2013 going forward.


“It is reported that oil and jet fuel prices are expected to remain around mid-2012 levels or, in some cases, perhaps even decline over the next three to five years, which is obviously positive for the industry as a whole.”


One area Brewer has highlighted as a potential challenge to DHL’s African Operations is South Africa’s current customs laws, due to the significant obstacle of the informal threshold of R500 for duty-free imports which continues to hamper the e-commerce industry, slow clearances and prevent becoming more globally connected.


“South Africa cannot currently realise its e-commerce potential and prevents local consumers from benefitting from internationally competitive prices, as well as the wide choice offered by global retailers,” he said.


One final challenge is the South African labour market. “We saw a major strike in 2012 that crippled most of the transportation industry. While we were still operating, this had a significant impact on our business – the labour environment is a challenging one in Africa, and South Africa is no different.”


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