With this outbreak we have demonstrated to our customers how resilient we are.

Serigne Ndanck Mbaye


January 26, 2021

How has the pandemic affected DHL’s operations in West Africa?

For the logistics sector, air freight was the most impacted, as we saw a huge drop in capacity especially belly capacity in view of border closures and restrictions that led to flight cancellations. Despite the situation, DHL was able to leverage our global network and partnerships to launch a dedicated air freight service – UbuntuConnect – transporting essential items such as PPEs, from China to Middle East and Africa via Dubai. UbuntuConnect reached Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa on a weekly basis, as well as Kenya, Angola, Senegal, and Ivory Coast when required, while DHL Aviation, our own network flight, was the only Airline that kept its regular routing and schedule in West Africa. We also had to adapt and adjust our ground operations to ensure our employees are safe and that all guidelines regarding social distancing are adhered to. We also had to take into account customs regulations requirements as well as government advisories, while maintaining our quality standards to serve our customers’ needs. While it is too soon to fully grasp the economic impact of the pandemic, I am confident that with our international footprint and range of solutions, we are able to continue to meet our customers’ needs. With this outbreak we have demonstrated to our customers how resilient we are.

DHL has embarked on an ambitious plan to reduce carbon footprint- how does this plan translate at national and local levels?

While offsetting carbon emissions is important, preventing emissions is even more important. For example, we are promoting the use of electric street scooters, commonly used in Europe and now entering our geographies. DHL will be neutralizing the carbon emissions of all less-than-container load (LCL) ocean freight shipments from January 1, 2021. The CO2 compensation for all LCL shipments will be achieved by using maritime biofuels.

How has innovation helped DHL maintain its market leadership?

As per the goals mapped out by our Strategy 2025, we have been on this digitalization journey for a number of years now, and despite the ongoing pandemic, we have accelerated the various digital initiatives. With our emphasis on data analytics, we are able to improve the speed and quality of our solutions, to meet specific customers’ needs and enable their businesses.

What do you identify as the main challenge as a logistics operator today?

The biggest challenge we face today is the need to maintain a good balance between keeping our people safe, while at the same time ensuring we continue to meet our customers’ business needs.  As such, we have ensured to make available resources and tools for our employees to work from home efficiently. For those of us who are needed onsite, we ensure that they are given access to protective equipment and that all guidelines are adhered to.

What is your final message for our audience?

The pandemic has brought many lessons- one is that the world is indeed a global village and closing down borders is not sufficient to keep safe. What happens in one part of the world has a knock-on effect somewhere else. We should learn from the pandemic to strive more towards integration and equality. More humility, I believe, is also important: the world predicted that Africa would be devastated if hit by the virus, but Africa has been able to maintain control of the situation so far, ensuring that social distancing measures, wearing face masks and personal hygiene are adhered to, and we have seen different local points of production for ventilators to prepare for a worst case scenario.

In the logistics sector, I believe DHL has proven to be very resilient and agile, enacting our BCP (business contingency plan) and keeping services ongoing during unprecedented times. Managers around the world are also learning that the old control-and-command model of monitoring employees is outdated, and it needs to be replaced with trust: people are working from home and they continue to do their jobs very well. This pandemic has also brought to life our purpose “Connecting people and improving lives” with all the PPEs we have delivered while no other company was able to.


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