On 21 May 2020, FIATA’s Region Africa Middle East (RAME) hosted a Zoom conference attended by 60 members to discuss the state of the industry and governments’ expectations of the freight forwarding industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting’s speakers included FIATA President Basil Pietersen, RAME Chair David Philips and COMESA Trade Director Francis Mangeni; it was moderated by Salahadin Khalifa, from the Ethiopian Freight Forwarders and Shipping Agents Association (EFFSAA).
The opening remarks from the speakers highlighted the challenges burdening the freight forwarding industry as it moves to adopt digital tools and remote operations. A positive takeaway from the pandemic will be the realization that freight forwarding needs to invest heavily in technological advances, not only by adopting Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), but also by advocating governments to consider digital solutions that would facilitate clearance, permit acquisition, and virtual approval of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) status.
In addition to digitalization, this pandemic has also emphasized the importance of implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Launched two years ago at an African Union summit, the agreement is being stressed more than ever as an opportunity to curb economic losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and future global disruption.
With the objective of maintaining close relationships with its members, FIATA hosted another conference on 10 June 2020 with the topic ‘Shipping lines’ relationship with forwarders during and post COVID-19’. Such trade dialogues help bring the industry closer together during these difficult times.