“Sub-Saharan Africa deserves more attention”
DACHSER´s Country Manager South Africa, Detlev Duve, about chances and challenges the region poses to logistics, the growth of renewable energies and the automotive industry and the need for complete and integrated logistics services.
Mr. Duve, which developments do you see in the South African logistics market?
The logistics landscape is changing rapidly, while competition is intense. Fully integrated logistics is going to be one of the future drivers for growth. With new services like warehousing and distribution we are able to offer the full scope of logistical services already today.
New developments in IT and expansion into new markets will also help us grow. Sub-Saharan Africa is a business hotspot that deserves much more global attention and we aim to play a major role in this developing market.
Mr. Duve, which role do cross-border transports to African countries play for your business?
We have been moving cargo for many years in the Sub-Saharan region. Road infrastructure and customs borders have always been traditional challenges. At least within the Southern Region of Africa, improved communications and electronic data interfaces have made large inroads into moving cargo more quickly. The sheer volume of freight moving within the current infrastructure is a day-to-day challenge we are able to meet with our know-how and experience.
This is why companies do not have to have a “fear” of dealing with Africa. This stops some companies from even attempting to sell in the African region.
This is why companies do not have to have a “fear” of dealing with Africa. This stops some companies from even attempting to sell in the African region. With our experienced staff we have been able to help many companies develop routes into Africa and will be focusing on this ‘gateway function’ in the future.
Last year, South Africa´s economy only experienced sluggish growth of about 1.4% percent. Predictions for this year are similiar. What kind of challenges do South African companies face?
The economy may take a quick turn for the better or worse, or have sporadic peaks and dips. That is not predictable. Managing this volatility has become very important, as you need to maximize profitability in both situations. DACHSER´s ability to react very quickly to client needs on a global basis has been our strength and in turn helped our clients minimize the risk of these fluctuations. I believe, however, that in South Africa the next couple of years will be very tight with regard to cash flows. Longer payment terms coupled with higher interest rates will hamper quick recovery of the economy.
What do South African companies expect from a logistics provider?
Changes in the global economy have forced many companies to move from “cherry picking“ to cost-cutting and streamlining their operations. This in turn has led to more outsourcing and the need to look for a fully integrated logistics partner.
Building up a broad and comprehensive range of services over the past few years – worldwide transport of merchandise to and from South Africa, warehousing and finally distribution - we help our clients cut costs and focus on what they do best, servicing and marketing their products.
South Africa is one of the leading countries worldwide when it comes to mining. What other vertical
industries does DACHSER South Africa target?
The mining industry will remain one of the drivers in Sub-Saharan Africa for some time to come. Renewable Energies has become a very interesting vertical for us in South Africa with three different solar companies working with us extensively to build up their market.
The most interesting project is a solar farm being built near the geographical center of South Africa. The first High Cube containers arrived there at the beginning of August, with many more to come by the end of the year. The automotive industry is another promising vertical industry we have been targeting in conjunction with the global automotive industry team.
Let´s talk about your company. It has been nearly four and a half years now since you joined DACHSER. How has your business evolved since then?
When we decided to join the DACHSER family four and a half years ago the reasons were very clear and the best way forward in a new chapter in our 33-year history. We had become too large for the local market and were unable to make inroads into the global arena. By joining DACHSER we were able to mutate to a global player overnight. We have been able to attract global, corporate clients that we were never able to access before. As a global player we are able to entice a different type of clientele, one that would like to associate themselves with a strong single global brand.
Talking about your team, what kind of role does employee development play for you?
DACHSER South Africa has always developed its staff and trained new talent for our business. The importance of this is very clear: In South Africa, we have a very high unemployment rate and the training offered in our industry is limited. So it is our responsibility as a company and corporate citizen to constantly keep investing in the development and improvement of our staff.
Three years ago we embarked on a special training program. We employ approximately ten learnerships per year, train them on a freight-training program, then integrate them into our work environment. The benefits have been amazing. Not only are we empowering young people – we are able to absorb many learners as valuable members of our DACHSER family once they have completed the course.
Detlev Duve, Country Manager DACHSER South Africa
Born in Hamburg, Germany, Mr. Duve immigrated to South Africa at the age of five. After his temporary return to Hamburg for his studies and first career steps in the air and sea freight industry, Mr. Duve moved back to Johannesburg in order to joint his family´s business ‘Jonen Freight (PTY) Ltd.’ in 1995. In his new role he was responsible for the dynamic growth of the company in sea freight exports and imports. As one of the Directors of the Cargo Partners network he oversaw the internationalization of his company. Mr. Duve followed this path when he fully integrated Jonen Freight into the global DACHSER Air & Sea Logistics network in 2011. Since then, he leads the country organization with considerable success.