Smooth and steady flow of goods within and across nations should be harnessed to stimulate trade and manufacturing investments within the SADC region, a logistics expert has said.
Speaking ahead of the 2nd Intra-African Trade Fair (IAFT) scheduled for November 15 to 21 2021 at KwaZulu-Natal, Durban in South Africa, Malawian transport systems analyst, Esther Banda, says efficient movement of goods is one factor that lubricates production and consumption of raw and manufactured goods at national and household levels.
“The movements of imports into the country signals rising national and household incomes and consumption while the exports indicate our ability to produce,” she says challenging Malawi to roll up its sleeve in the manufacturing sector in a bid create growth in outbound and return leg loads for the transport sector.
Malawi’s transport sector is dominated by the road freight services whose operations are largely run by southern Africa based foreign trucking companies who benefit from the country’s wide range of local and international clearing and forwarding agents providing logistics, procurement, and supply management services including subcontracting the country’s few cargo fleet and offering warehousing facilities to international transport companies.
Banda urges players in the logistics supply chain to ensure that the industry is competitive by offering favourable transport rates, ensuring availability and wider distribution of loads, capacity to handle commodities requiring high safety and/or hygienic standards as well as displaying improved efficiency and regulation of border processes.
In 2019, Malawi’s intra-Africa exports and imports amounted to US$331 million and US$801 million respectively, while intra-Africa exports increased by 4 percent between 2018 and 2019 intra-Africa imports declined by 1percent.
Intra-Africa exports account for 36 percent of Malawi’s world exports, while 27 percent of world imports are sourced from the rest of the African continent. 61 percent of intra-Africa imports are sourced from South Africa, while Kenya and Egypt are the main destination markets.
“The imbalance simply means that there are less goods to be transported from Malawi than there are coming from outside the country,” she says explaining that the country has more inbound than outbound loads and that it also offers international freight companies less return leg loads, a situation which has implications on rates.
Meanwhile studies have shown that South Africa and Zimbabwe dominate the share of exports to other SADC countries while Botswana and Namibia account for the largest proportion of intra SADC imports.
Member states are making huge investments in trade and manufacturing industries to increase trade flow and the presence of their commodities in neighbouring countries