Road freight in sub-Saharan Africa goes digital with DHL’s Saloodo!

Article written by Irma Venter

Digital freight forwarder Saloodo!, a subsidiary of DHL Global Forwarding, has launched a digital logistics platform for shippers and transport providers in South Africa, bringing the first digital road freight solution to the region.
An efficient road freight network is a key conduit of trade within a geographically wide-spread country such as South Africa, but also within the 16 landlocked countries within sub-Saharan Africa.
However, much of the region’s road freight operations remain fragmented and highly traditional, missing out on the visibility, efficiency and security that logistics technology offers, says DHL Global Forwarding CFO and Saloodo! Middle East and Africa CEO Tobias Maier.
“Digital transformation is a top priority for the industry and, given the demographics, we expect demand for digital transformation to be driven by emerging markets globally.
“Africa is the world’s youngest continent, with 60% of the [population] below 25. This is a dynamic generation of digitally-minded young adults, demanding smart, digital solutions both on the business and home front.”
With South Africa as its launch pad into sub-Saharan Africa, Saloodo! is the first digital logistics platform available in the region that offers a single, simple and reliable interface for shippers and transport providers to best optimise cost, routes, cargo and transit times, notes Maier.
Backed by DHL’s global and regional footprint and expertise, all contractual relationships on the platform are organised via the existing local DHL entity, providing trust and peace of mind to carriers and shippers alike, he adds.
“With real-time visibility, Saloodo! will inject greater transparency and efficiency to the road network in the region, enabling shippers – from small enterprises and startups to large multinational groups ­– to find trusted and reliable freight carriers in South Africa.
“This will, in turn, help carriers manage existing fleets and optimise capacity with full truckload shipments.”
With a market value of R121.1-billion in 2018, road freight volumes in South Africa have been increasing steadily, growing by 5.6% in June last year compared with the previous corresponding period.
Equally, intra-Africa exports already accounted for 26% and 12% of South Africa’s 2018 total exports and imports respectively ­– almost 50% of which are with neighbouring countries in this landlocked region.
The Saloodo! platform was first launched in 2017 in Germany to connect companies and transport providers within Germany, or from Germany throughout Europe.
Moving into emerging markets, the digital freight service was introduced in the Middle East in early 2019, where some 350 shippers are already registered.
Collectively, the service has grown to more than 30 000 shippers and 12 000 carriers covering 35 countries.
How does it work?
Saloodo! provides shippers and carriers with a one-stop platform for road freight connections for domestic shipments within South Africa, as well as international movements to several neighbouring countries in sub-Saharan Africa, explains Maier.
It enables business-to-business companies (shippers) to find verified freight carriers and, in turn, helps carriers to find suitable full-truckload shipments to optimise their truck capacities.
The portal has a three-step process, through which one is able to find a freight carrier, create a transport request, receive confirmation of the request and track the shipment in real-time.
There are no set criteria as long as one has access to the portal and is able to register successfully in order to keep track of the shipment.
A shipper has to have a valid VAT identity that is registered with a company address, in order to register on the portal, adds Maier.
“A carrier needs to undergo a detailed vetting process that is country-specific (depending on the local regulations and requirements), to ensure we only have reliable transport providers on the platform.
“With Saloodo!, you can ship all kinds of full truck loads, including containers. We are working on extending our services to also cover partial truck loads soon.
“In the case of valuable, dangerous or theft-sensitive goods, shippers must inform Saloodo! of the specific transport request and, depending on the type and value of the goods and the current risks involved, this will enable us to connect them with the right providers, meeting the requirements associated with the specific shipment,” says Maier. 
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