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MA ERSK SI E R R A LE O N E

Overcoming industry challenges through investments in technology www.maerskline.com/en-sl


ame M A E R S K

S I E R R A

L E O N E

DELIVERING ON ITS

SHIPPING Promise Aligning with the wider Group strategy to standardise its technology processes, Maersk Sierra Leone has benefitted from improved cargo efficiencies to create an even better experience for its customers Writer: Emily Jarvis Project Manager: Tom Cullum

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or almost two decades, Maersk Sierra Leone (SL) has been a crucial part of Maersk Group’s African operations, overseeing the carriage of cargo to and from Sierra Leone. In order to continue aligning its service offering with the high level demands and needs of the country, the Company has focused its recent investments on improving customer experience, while moving towards a standardised use of technology throughout its essential processes to align with the wider Group. Despite the apparent 20 percent contraction in the Sierra Leonean economy in 2015 (according to the World Bank), Maersk SL has registered volume growth above five percent for the past few years, with 10 percent recorded in 2015, due in part to the growth of capital goods and fuel imports into the country. Managing Director (MD), Lee Brough recalls: “This is a far cry from where we were when we first moved into the country; initially managed by a third party agent, Star Marine in 1996 and eventually establishing our own local office here in 2003 in line with the growth of the country’s economy; becoming more accessible to the growing number of customers in the market.” Sierra Leone has limited finished goods production, which makes the country and its industries heavily reliant on the importation of goods. Maersk SL plays a leading role in the provision of international sea transportation of containerised cargo, where it carries at least three out of five containers to and from the country; including cargo ranging from basic foodstuffs and construction materials, to higher value commodity goods such as appliances and clothing. “This year, it is estimated that we will carry 14,000 40-foot equivalent containers (FFE), which is an impressive feat given the economic and infrastructural challenges that Sierra Leone is facing,” he adds.

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Infrastructure gap

Africa’s market brings many other big challenges, but with challenge comes opportunity. The continent has witnessed relatively high growth rates in recent years when compared to more developed markets, and Brough says that with each year comes “comparatively greater progress”. He highlights: “Opportunities are constantly opening up across various industries, all of which are in some way impacting the movement of goods. There is a backlog of infrastructure requirements that are in various stages of being addressed and it is encouraging to see progress being made. “Of course, there is still some way to go towards improving access to water and a stable electricity supply, as well as bolstering communication mediums to make them more reliable and bring down the cost of data access. Decision-making for parastatals can also sometimes be perceived as complex and time consuming leading to inefficiencies, however it is very rewarding to be part of the changes in the market overall.” Maersk’s high reliance on cargo flows to and from Sierra Leone as a prominent industry leader in the country means that it has been highly impacted – both positively and negatively – by a contraction in the export market, while simultaneously experiencing a 10 percent growth in the import market. “Sierra Leone is seeing a slowing of timber exports and reduction in scrap metal exports, while also seeing growth in imports driven by the increase in demand for construction and foodstuffs. Despite the decline on the one hand, the market has remained buoyant as there will always be demand for our services,” Brough adds. With a multitude of projects in the pipeline that look to improve the

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Lee Brough, Managing Director Brough began his career with Maersk after undertaking the Group’s graduate programme. After holding many different roles across three different regions, Brough was given the opportunity to lead the Sierra Leone arm of business; working in an exciting, dynamic and challenging environment

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A port vessel tour during the Ebola crisis revealed the strict measures being taken to be able to handle cargo as usual

shipping environment, Maersk SL has placed a concerted focus on improving efficiencies in order to reduce communication bottlenecks that ultimately impact the customer and their overall cargo experience. “One of the top challenges we face in Sierra Leone is with regards to the technological capability of the local market. With communication costs high and unreliable at times, we are looking closely at what we can do to create the best solution in the environment we operate in,” he explains.


PCS Group of Companies

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ounded 50 years ago, PCS Group is organized into two divisions. First is Pee Cee and Sons, a distribution company for food and beverage products that cater to retail, wholesale and food service sectors. The company holds distributorships for many FMCG brands in various product categories such as frozen foods, condiments, dairy/ egg products, edible oils, beverages and confectionery. “We place importance on brand value and customer loyalty. Our ability to position brands that meet consumers’ daily needs and lifestyle has put us in good stead,” says CEO of Pee Cee and Sons and Milla Group, Mahesh Nandwani. “We work carefully with ISO approved suppliers to source top-quality produce and raw materials, ensuring we deliver nothing but the best for our customers.” Second is Milla Group (SL) Ltd, a plastics manufacturer producing a number of items to suit the following purposes:

Mahesh C. Nandwani

CEO, PCS Group of Companies

• Water tanks for the storage of clean water • Garbage disposal solutions to reduce waste pollution • Household plastics for everyday local use • Packaging solutions for food, water, grains and liquids • Agricultural bags for plantations • Concrete plastic and PVC pipes for construction and building material companies Milla Group is rated as a pioneering local industry striving to promote the “Made in Sierra Leone” image. Milla Group also engages in CSR activities to empower communities that suffer socio-economic challenges. The group has an integrated set up with factories, warehousing facilities and delivery

vans with and without temperature control. There are wholesale branches in five regions: Freetown, Waterloo, Bo, Makeni and Kenema. These combined allow for a wide distribution outreach for food and plastic items nationwide. The whole management structure strives to ensure products are affordably priced and readily available. Transporting perishable items and plastics have their different challenges and special attention is taken to handle the supply chain to guarantee the products are in the best condition for the end consumer. All the vehicles are fitted with state-of-the-art tracking devices that feed live time updates and help monitor fuel consumption. This effort helps to maximize the utilization of the vehicles with every effort taken to be environmentally considerate. PCS Group employs a combination of skilled expatriate workers and indigenous staff and is committed to their skills training and development. PCS Group is well known for its low employee turnover rate and the company emphasizes on meriting and promoting employees within the company throughout their tenure. In the last 10 years, operations have expanded in Liberia with the opening of Pee Cee and Sons Inc for food distribution, the Payless supermarket chain and Milla Group Inc. The management at PCS Group aims to keep growing sustainably from strength to strength with the commitment to always delivering quality and value to its customers.

T +232 76 603542 E office@peeceeandsons.com officesl@milla-group.com www.peeceeandsons.com www.milla-group.com


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Case management software

L E O N E

For the past six years, Maersk has been looking closely at its global IT systems in order to streamline its processes across all its operations in order to address any inconsistencies in service levels. “This cleanup reduced the number of applications by more than 2,000 as we move towards a more standardised use of technology across the Group, but this is of course naturally impacted by if and how that technology can be accommodated at each location,” Brough notes. “Technology is a crucial differentiator for the Maersk Group;

after spending more than a century in the global market we have invested a significant amount of time and money into ensuring our internal and external processes benefit from state-of-theart software and delivering on our shipping promise in the most efficient way possible.” The recent implementation of Maersk’s case management software in Sierra Leone has been a key enabler that delivers multiple benefits to both customers and the Company itself. From backend systems that enable direct communication via EDI batch transfer messages to customers and

BOLLORÉ AFRICA LOGISTICS

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n Wednesday 16th September, under the patronage of His Excellency the President of the Republic, the Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma, an Official Ceremony will be held for the signature, by Bolloré Africa Logistics and the Port Authorities, of the Port of Freetown container terminal extension project. After six month of engineering and design study, Bolloré Africa Logistics will expand the capacity of Freetown Terminal by building up a new 270 m quay with a draught of 13m, backed by 3.5 hectares of storage yard, taking the total capacity of the container terminal to 750,000 TEUs. Brand new state-ofthe-art equipment, including two shipto-shore gantries and four gantry cranes will be set up at Freetown Terminal, with the goal of doubling productivity at the container terminal within four years. The new quay will be operational within three years with modern equipment. The whole of the investment, including infrastructure and equipment, amounting to $120 million, will be funded by Bolloré Group.

US$5.2

billion In 2014, Maersk Group reported profits of US$5.2 billion

Philippe Labonne, CEO of Bolloré Africa Logistics explains: “this is a great opportunity for the Bolloré Group and our Sierra Leoneans partners to develop the Port of Freetown into the gateway to Sierra Leone and its hinterland, and a transhipment port”. The project will enable the creation of 500 jobs, as well as generating indirect employment for hundreds of people. The Bolloré Group will also build capacity through high level skills transfer.

www.bollore-africa-logistics.com

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suppliers, to remote monitoring of vessel bunker consumption, the right technologies form an integral part of the Company’s value proposition. The case management software creates a reference number that tracks a customer query – provided the query cannot be immediately concluded – and this reference is then available to every colleague around the world to action in the most effective way. Brough says: “The software creates a standardised platform which enables further efficiencies in communication; for example, a customer does not need to repeat a query if they want an update on an issue, they merely quote the reference number.” The Group is now working to stabilise the software to ensure that it will deliver the expected benefits when promoted to the wider Sierra Leone market. Separately, Maersk has recently formed a strategic partnership with AT&T in order to have greater

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control over cargo quality, and ultimately, ensure a better customer experience. The partnership will allow the Company to initiate live communication with Maersk’s reefer (refrigerated) containers. “Our containers have been kitted with various communication devices so that

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we can remotely track and monitor the real-time condition of refrigerated containers,” he confirms.

Developing market

Leveraging the wider Group expertise and investments, Maersk SL has spent a significant amount of its time hiring


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local Sierra Leoneans and putting them through various training schemes in order to upskill the available workforce in the country. These resourceintensive activities are designed so that employees gain a clear insight into the liner shipping business, and on-thejob training allows them to build an understanding of the Maersk company culture. Brough says: “We tend to have a local approach to securing talent in all the markets we operate in, as the Group as a whole believes this leads to the greatest synergies. A key challenge for us remains in identifying the right calibre person to begin with, as a shipping course is not typically offered by mainstream training institutes in

30,000

people Maersk Line employs more than 30,000 people globally

Award-Winning Crisis Support In 2014, the Maersk Group reaffirmed its long-term commitment to Ebola-hit countries through a US$1 million donation to the UN humanitarian relief efforts, a feat that was nominated at the 2015 Lloyd’s List Global Awards. In order to avoid massive disruptions to trade with the three worst affected countries - Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - Maersk Line ensured continued services to the continent, providing extra equipment to enable trade and ensure a regular flow of food and relief supplies. This was achieved via the continued movement of four vessels in one specific loop among other careful strategies to continue cargo flow. Within Sierra Leone, Maersk is known for its donation of containers, computers and other essential materials to the local community. “Our corporate social responsibility is designed to create additional value and lead to a tangible social impact that really makes a difference on the ground. We have been in West Africa for decades and will continue to be, and this is our way of demonstrating our commitment to the region,” emphasises Brough.

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Africa, with the closest match being a course in logistics.” Through extensive in-house training both online and instructor-led – Maersk SL is able to tailor its training to the individual, based on their role and needs. Due to the substantial number of employees that the Group hire globally, there are also often specialist positions that need to be filled that require the movement of employees between countries so as to take on various assignments when required. “However, raising the level of our local competency is also important and in line with this, personnel from Sierra Leone recently attended, and subsequently completed, international training for the global sales organisation, despite the ongoing Ebola crisis at the time,” he highlights.

Ease of business

With the ongoing improvements being made to Sierra Leone’s basic infrastructure needs, such as power, water and telecommunications, Brough is hopeful that with time, there will be greater ease of business in the country. “We ourselves are also making ongoing improvements to our efficiency and technology infrastructure in order to improve our supply chain and reduce transportation costs; but our investments will also have a wider impact on the import and export efficiencies in Sierra Leone,” he summarises. Led by the Group’s five core values – “constant care, humbleness, uprightness, our employees, our name” – Maersk will continue to be an integral asset to the global cargo shipping and oil & gas industries. These values are representative of its past, the present and its future direction, driven by continuous innovation and re-evaluation of its processes within a changing economy such as Sierra Leone, to better deliver on its shipping promise.

KPMG is the largest firm of chartered accountants and business advisers in Sierra Leone

KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services. We operate in 144 countries and have more than 137,000 professionals working in member firms around the world with significant professional strength and experience. The firm is dedicated to the concept of providing a full scope of services to meet the diverse needs of our clients. What differentiates KPMG is its multidisciplinary team approach and industry experience. KPMG offers customised, industry-focused strategies across three main functions: Audit, Tax and Advisory. KPMG, a partnership established under Sierra Leonean law, is a member of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity

www.kpmg.com/sl 37 Siaka Stevens Street Email: kpmg@kpmg-sl.com Tel: 232 76 601 595

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MAERSK SIERRA LEONE LTD 7 Bathurst Street Freetown Sierra Leone T: +232 22 22 78 25 E: fnasal@maersk.com

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MAERSK SIERRA LEONE  

Maersk Sierra Leone Business Brochure - Africa Outlook Issue 32

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