"To face the Covid-19 outbreak, Bolloré Logistics has implemented an organization system enabling the pursuit of logistics operations with a view to ensuring supply-chain continuity. In this context, the company launched a dedicated airfreight carrier called WARA providing regular weekly links between Europe and the countries of West Africa."
Could you give us a brief overview of Bolloré Logistics’ operations in West Africa and the importance of mining for the business?
Bolloré Logistics is part of Bolloré Transport & Logistics, a major operator in transport and logistics in Africa, providing its customers with a large variety of services including port activities, land and rail transport and customized logistics solutions. Regarding more specifically the mining industry, we have developed an operational excellence based on our wide network, the expertise of our teams, our footprint on the continent, and our engagement in continuous improvement. Benefiting from a significant experience in this industry, we have been working with a large number of mining players for many years: EPC and/or the mine owners during the construction phase; mining service providers, reagent suppliers and equipment manufacturers once in operation. On the construction part, a fair number of projects are expected to go live in the short-term, prompted also by the high gold prices.
How did the pandemic change Bolloré Logistics’ way of operating?
At the height of the pandemic, there were some countries under complete lockdown and without the possibility to receive some freight. At that time, French and European airspace travel had also come to a halt. To face the Covid-19 outbreak, Bolloré Logistics has implemented an organization system enabling the pursuit of logistics operations with a view to ensuring supply-chain continuity. In this context, the company launched a dedicated airfreight carrier called WARA providing regular weekly links between Europe and the countries of West Africa. This carrier proved essential not only in mining but also towards supplying other industries. Today, the majority of countries have now reopened their borders, however not all airlines have resumed their service into West Africa, prompting Bolloré Logistics WARA service to carry on. Because the ports remained opened throughout, we managed to stock goods safely in warehouses until the destination country reopened. Except for a few delays which were to be expected, we successfully overcame the challenges thanks to the effective measures put in place.
What can you comment on the level of regional integration in West Africa?
Through the membership to ECOWAS, the countries in the region have established a good level of integration whereby common rules are adhered to. As a logistics service provider operating throughout the region, we have noticed major improvements through such an integration, which is enhanced by the digital revolution taking place.
How is Bollore Logistics making use of new technology in the mining industry?
In mining specifically, our customers’ transport requests are integrated within our system using a standard EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). This is shared with our customers wherever they choose to check their shipment all the way through to site delivery. Road and structure surveys are a prerequisite to any mining logistics project and depending on the operations planned, these surveys are of different character. Bolloré Logistics has also developed an agile and performant tool based on a solid field expertise. The software allows for exact geolocalisation of all the pinch points and structure as well as providing immediate interactive data transmission to a remote end user.
Recent events have heightened security fears across the region. How does Bolloré Logistics adapt to respond to the current security challenges?
Bolloré Logistics collaborates with the management of each country, as well as with our customers, so it is a joint effort. At HQ, we have a Safety Director who oversees these considerations while ensuring procedures are effective for local employees and strictly followed, especially when transporting sensitive cargo. Given recent events in countries like Mali and Burkina Faso, our clients have increased their expectations in terms of security measures, as well as health and safety. As a logistics service provider, we need to make sure we have sufficient coverage and protection. Also, depending on the nature of cargo, escorts can be organised with local gendarmerie and/or military.
What are Bolloré Logistics’ future priorities?
Our clients appreciate the deep integration within local environments and the extensiveness of the network we have throughout Africa. Bolloré Logistics has an extensive portfolio of services and we commit to serving our customers’ needs to the best of our ability. As a responsible company, we also commit to support our customers in the strict respect of the regulation of the countries in which we operate. In the same way, we have formalized CSR policies through our program "Powering Sustainable Logistics" to maintain a conscious footprint and act as a committed employer for our teams in all circumstances.