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Mobility and transportation as integral infrastructural pillars for Nigerian supply chain

In this particular article and series of articles afterward, I will be discussing in great detail how the supply chain will be the frontier for wealth creation in Nigeria and Africa as we move into the economy of the future on the continent.

Transportation is a part of logistics, and in defining supply chain as an umbrella, you’d understand that there are several dimensions under supply chain, although people tend to focus more on procurement and logistics. Under logistics comes distribution, under distribution, comes warehousing and transportation, and then under transportation, comes different forms of transportation such as air, road, rail, and water. These are what we refer to as the four logistics/transportation corridors.

Often, logistics and transportation are used interchangeably. However, they are different. You cannot have a supply chain without logistics because it is the muscle that pulls all elements and dimensions within the supply chain together.

 

As we continue to look into mobility versus transportation, it is important to create transportation infrastructure with mobility in its context

Nigeria has invested abundant resources in building its transportation infrastructure. A transportation university exists in the country, however, my advice is that we understand that transportation is evolving and positions Nigeria in the future. The transportation sector is at the forefront of producing economic value and employment generation like never before.

We should also understand that there is a difference between mobility and transportation. Mobility is the ability to freely move or be moved, transportation on the other hand, is the act of moving. The important difference between these two is ability. Transportation is something you do and mobility is something you have.

One comes across as a service and the other provides access to the service. As we continue to improve our transportation infrastructure, we should also consider our mobility infrastructure as valuable infrastructure within the context of transportation infrastructure.

Since 2019, a lot of companies across the globe have been providing mobility services such as Uber, Lyft, and Bolt. These brands are providing mobility on the transportation platform.

As we continue to look into mobility versus transportation, it is important to create transportation infrastructure with mobility in its context. It’s going to be difficult to be able to get employment and value creation without this.

While mobility runs on the transportation infrastructure, you can’t have one without the other. So you can have transportation infrastructures such as roads and water but if people do not have the option of movement, it’s pointless. Mobility isn’t just about having access to one mode of transportation, it’s about having transportation options as well as the quality of those options.

So you can say that in Lagos, there’s transportation infrastructure but very little mobility, the roads are blocked and there are many places with only one route to access them. Some places in Nigeria only get one bus in and out of the area. That isn’t mobile at all!

Quality transportation options help in defining mobility. If it takes you forever to get from one place to another, that cannot be considered as mobile. You should have options that allow you to get from one place to another with ease.

I think this should give more insight as to what mobility is about transportation. With this definition, you can see that Lagos is a state where much consideration wasn’t placed in mobility. Where there is mobility, there should be affordable and safe transportation options.

Read also: The impact of e-commerce on supply chain

This brings us to how the transportation corridors in Nigeria are linked together. How does the rail feed into the roads?

Imagine a Nigeria where one mode of transportation feeds into another, even within one corridor. For instance, within the road corridor, the bus parks are not linked and that is part of our mobility structure.

There is an abundance of transportation infrastructure while the mobility sector is lacking. There’s no reason why the bikes, camels, and Keke can’t link together to form a robust road transportation system.

In some cases, it doesn’t have to be intermodal, however, the priority should be about giving people easy access to options. A prime example in Nigeria is the different modes of road transportation such as bikes, buses, taxis, and “Keke”. All these things can be linked to increasing the ability to move goods and services. This is quite important as we continue to move to the future.

One thing I’ve noticed over time is that we are so concerned about the present that we forget about the future. Nigeria and Africa at large need to adopt a progressive mindset, to aid in writing the script about what will be happening in the next 30 years.

We are in a crucial moment where it’s important to plan for the future. As we are currently improving the standard of living, we must also consider what the next 20 to 30 years will look like. If we’re not creating mobility options, we may set the future generation up for failure.

Nigeria is trying to lead the charge among West African countries in the migration of people from rural to urban areas. But the question is, “how is this going to happen?” “How are they going to have mobility options?”

Inadequate mobility restricts trade. If there is no way for trucks to get to warehouses as can be observed in Nigeria at the moment, especially in areas with security issues, then there would be restrictions in trade. When there are restrictions in trade, the country doesn’t make money and everything else suffers.

It’s rather interesting that we’re so focused on transportation that we’ve neglected the role of mobility. Without mobility access, transportation is rendered useless.

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