Africa is brimming with opportunity. The continent, which is home to some 1.1 billion people, has a growing GDP and the youngest overall population in the world. As WWL’s Vice President and Head of Emerging Markets Werner Van Dessel explains, this creates an extremely interesting demographic for exporters.
“Although Africa still has a long way to go before it can be compared with the developed world, there’s every indication that the continent will continue to evolve in a positive way,” he said. “And with a huge population of young consumers, Africa’s buying power is only going to increase.”
Although parts of West and Central Africa have recently been hit by a crisis due to low oil and commodity prices, most analysts believe the continent is at the start of an optimistic journey that will see substantial growth and infrastructure development, driven by a growing population of young people and improving economic circumstances.
“Going forward, we expect to see increasing demand for construction and agricultural equipment for farming and infrastructure developments, as well as substantial demand for autos to support increased wealth,” Van Dessel said.
WWL’s new RoRo connection to Africa will link major exporters in Asia, Oceania and North America with key ports in Central and West Africa. The service will be based on a connecting carrier agreement with a first-rate carrier that has more than 25 years of experience on the African continent.
WWL will ship the goods from Asia, North America and Oceania to either Zeebrugge or Antwerp in Europe, where they will be transshipped to WWL’s partner’s RoRo vessels servicing West and Central Africa, Van Dessel explains. WWL will provide the through bill of lading, covering the cargo from the first port of load to the final port of discharge.
No other major global carrier is providing a RoRo service of this kind with transshipment in Northern Europe, he said.
“When customers entrust their cargo to us, they can be confident that it’s being well looked after,” Van Dessel said. “By incorporating these routes into our fixed trades via Zeebrugge and Antwerp, we’re ensuring the regularity and reliability of the service.”
WWL has appointed agents on the ground in each of the 10 new African destinations. The agents have been selected on the basis of their strong local presence, market knowledge and ability to offer high-quality solutions to WWL and its customers. Many of them will also supply or facilitate inland and terminal services in their respective markets.
“This new connection will allow us to close a gap in WWL’s global service offering,” Van Dessel said. “Whereas in the past customers had to talk to two or three different suppliers to cover these routes, we’re now here as a single point of contact for the customer, with the capability to manage their entire journey.”