Nigeria is losing about 50 percent of perishable export goods yearly to the absence of cold chain facilities at the airports, according to the African Center for Supply Chain (ACSC).
A cold chain is a low-temperature-controlled supply chain network. It uses facilities such as cold rooms, freezers, refrigerators, cold boxes, and carriers for preserving temperature-controlled fruits and vegetables.
Speaking in Lagos at weekend during the maiden award and dinner event of ACSC, Obiora Madu, the director general of ACSC Council, pointed out that the absence of cold chain facilities at Nigerian airports is one of the biggest challenges facing export trade, adding that perishable export goods are wasted annually to lack of cold chain.
Citing an example, Madu said that during the Covid 19 outbreak, Nigeria had to choose the vaccines it can manage their temperature due to the lack of conditioning facilities in the country.
Madu however said that ACSC is perfecting plans to carry out research on the need to have conditioning or cold-chain facilities at the airports to cut down on post-harvest losses in Nigeria.
According to him, ACSC discovered that people who export farm produce, run the risk of having wastages especially when they miss their flights due to a lack of cold-chain facilities at the airport.
He added that the conditioning facility will keep the vegetables and other farms’ produce intact till the next flight to the destination.
“Nigeria’s supply chain is already complicated even before Covid. The absence of logistics infrastructure is another reason why Nigeria is not competitive. On the logistics performance index of the World Bank, Nigeria is ranked 110 out of 160. This shows that Nigeria scored poorly in all the pillars that were considered to arrive at that number,” he said.
On logistics infrastructure, Madu said that if Nigeria had a functional rail network the cost of transporting goods would be about half of what cargo owners are currently paying to move goods by road.
He said apart from East Africa, there is no other region in Africa that is integrated with rail.
“There is DHL research that said that lack of supply chain talent is getting to a crisis stage and Nigeria’s situation has become worse because of ‘Japa’. Companies are losing good hands. We see people in very good paid jobs leaving the country. In America and Ireland, supply chain talent is about 39 percent of the challenge that they have. That is why ACSC wants to grow local certification in the supply chain,” he said.
Temitope Bandele, director of Customer Supply Chain sub-Saharan Africa of Friesland Campina, who spoke on the theme, ‘Leveraging Supply Chain Excellence in the Changing World Order,’ said Nigeria needs to enable the supply chain trade to leverage the opportunities inherent in policies such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to develop the people, structure and improve the economy.
He said the supply chain today has gone beyond measuring KPIs, freight forwarding, procurement, and planning to become a way of life.
He further said that disruption has become the order of the day such that nobody knew that what happened during Covid will happen, and nobody knows what will happen next year or even in two years’ time, which is why the supply chain experts need to be ready.
“We need to develop our people, processes and technology to be able to meet with the disruption. At the same time, we need to copy from the Western world, best practices and localise them to work in Nigeria that is the only way we can grow as a business and a nation,” he said.
Bandele however said that integration within Africa is what the African Center for Supply Chain is pushing for.
“In Africa, there is that inability to integrate which is linked to inadequate infrastructure and economy but we need to come together to explore how to share best practices within the West, East and North Africa as a whole,” he said.
While pointing out that Nigeria needs to have a standard structure of education that teaches Supply Chain and leverages global skills to develop capacity in Nigeria and Africa, Bandele said there is a need to integrate Supply Chain in the curriculum of Nigerian universities, especially in courses like Accounting and Finance.
During the event, ACSC also gave fellowship awards to seven members and inducted 12 new members.
The center also gave Supply Chain awards to corporate bodies including GIG Logistics, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MTN Nigeria, Skelas Ltd, and OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria Ltd.
On the individual category, Azuka Okeke, CEO of Africa Resource for Excellence in Supply Chain was given the ‘Supply Chain Personality of the Year 2022’ award and Temitope Bandele, director of Customer Supply Chain sub-Saharan Africa, Friesland Campina, was awarded Supply Chain Manager of the Year award.