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With Better Logistics, Africa could be a Bigger Exporter of Fresh Produce and other Services

Getting products from manufacturers to market can be a slow and expensive process in Africa. But a new generation of trucking companies believes internet technology can transform supply chains and bring down prices for shoppers. Among the “e-logistics” businesses looking to shake up the transportation of goods is Kenya’s Lori Systems, which uses a cloud-based platform to connect companies wanting to shift cargo with the truck drivers who can move it. Poor infrastructure and logistics can add between 40% and 60% to the cost of goods in Africa, according to a report this month by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Google. A cumbersome supply chain means fruit grown on the continent often spoils before reaching its destination, or it can’t compete on price. Lori Systems has raised “north of $25 million” in funding. Sendy, another Kenyan e-logistics company, raised $20 million in an investment round backed by Toyota (TM) in January, and last year, Nigeria’s Kobo360 raised $20 million from Goldman Sachs (FADXX) and other investors. The IFC report cites e-logistics startups as key in growing Africa’s internet economy, which could be worth $180 billion by 2025, accounting for more than 5% of the continent’s gross domestic product.