When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
Econometrix chief economist Dr Azar Jammine describes the current competitiveness of South Africa exporters as ‘unbelievably’ ideal and likely to remain so for a “good few months” and adds that these conditions have also created the opportunity for local companies to “climb in and start producing goods that were previously imported”.
The call fits well with the introduction of the WarHorse initiative aimed at resolving problems arising from the Covid 19 regulations affecting airfreight, particularly the supply of essential products which is experiencing erratic supply patterns with aircraft grounded and major overseas economies taking priority.
WarHorse is an agile response to the difficulties facing importers and exporters affected by air cargo sector issues and the challenges brought about by the pandemic. Independent coordinating company tvg&associates have positioned a dedicated website platform to facilitate an industry-wide shared-space air charter solution ‘underpinned by a compliant and transparent administration process that is independent’ according to CEO Teresita van Gaalen
“The project is designed to secure a number of all-important socio-economic factors in South Africa during the national State of Disaster. Collaboration between all parties is essential in the current circumstances and the intention is to ensure a stable and inclusive supply chain facilitated by a channel that offers impartiality, good governance and a seamless interaction with agents in addition to opening the way for smaller businesses to benefit from the initiative,” she points out.
The project has the backing of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders SAAFF and organisations such as SAEPA as well as companies including Bidvest International Logistics. This support includes B4SA, an umbrella initiative undertaken in response to the COVID-19 crisis by various South African Business Organizations including Business Unity South Africa and the Black Business Council.
WarHorse is centralising and coordinating activities through the www.warhorse.africa website allowing equal participation by all potential players. “The initiative has been structured in such a way that apart from sharing the airfreight space, it will be business as usual for each agent.
Project COO and airline freight specialist Fred du Plessis says “The operation will consolidate crucial industry volumes and obtain the best utilisation of an aircraft to assist in reducing the cost to market while stabilising the flow of essential goods. The creation of a reliable frequency based on uptake will also open the way for smaller businesses to benefit from the initiative.”
But an unintended benefit coming from the market is the opportunity for exports as spelt out by Jammine. This will in turn have an economic benefit for South Africa while increasing the efficiency of WarHorse project. In the words of Fred to exporters ‘jump aboard’.
Van Gaalen says the project is drawing support from across the board. “We believe that in part it is the strong governance approach we have adopted as a priority and the fact that the initiative is driven by a company independent of the freight forwarding industry.
“We are overseeing fair and responsible practices, a non-conflicting trading framework from a secure platform for all participating companies. This central portal will enable cargo requirements to be consolidated per region (China, Europe, India, USA, etc.) and allow for the swifter and more efficient planning, allocation and securing of space on charters. It will maximise the utilisation of charter aircraft, thereby stabilising cost (buying rate) and above all, keeping essential goods flowing into South Africa,” she concludes.