How can AI transform African supply chains

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the tech of the age, transforming the norm across several industries but can African supply chains partake in this transformation?

AI has many benefits, and we are just scratching the surface of what it can do for supply chain management. However, for the most part, African supply chains have been slow to respond to tech advancements and breakthroughs.

Some are milking tech, such as MTN, Jumia, Unilever Africa, and many others, but there is still much to be desired, especially where small businesses are concerned. But AI is different. With AI, African supply chains can stand on equal footing with global industries and supply chains.

In this article, we will explore how AI can transform African supply chains and give them an edge when competing with other global supply chains.

Let’s dive into them.

1. Data analytics

Data processing and analysis in supply chain management just got so much easier. With AI’s uncanny ability to analyse data and predict the future based on it, demand forecasting and risk management across African supply chains are not so much easier.

Businesses do not have to spend so much time and resources collecting and analyzing data. With AI, they can do this in moments and get the necessary information to move the supply chain forward.

The best part is they can jump on this straight from the traditional methods many of these supply chain operations are used to. The AI can calculate vast amounts of data, enhancing the scope of analysis and capturing areas that supply chains would have ordinarily missed.

2. Real-time information

Integration with existing systems and software, like the Internet of Things and other communication devices, allows the AI to provide real-time information on supply chain operations

This access to real-time information prompts tracking, visibility, and transparency in the supply chain. AI makes the information flow far easier and more understandable to every relevant stakeholder. 

When the supply chain enjoys real-time tracking, visibility, and transparency, it is able to proactively get in front of a perceived issue before it becomes a complicated situation. These three also ensure seamless operations of the business and its supply chain management.

3. Supplier relationship management

Every supply chain needs its suppliers to be at their best. That way, the supply chain can function smoothly. However, achieving this is easier said than done for several reasons. Some of these include corruption and collusion, errors in vetting suppliers, and poor oversight.

With AI, African supply chains do not have to go through the tedious and frankly unappealing process of managing supplier relationships. Supplier relationship management is one of those tasks one may consider repetitive and menial.

Artificial intelligence can help analyze supplier behaviours in real time, giving the supply chain a detailed report on each supplier. The report will take into account their strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. It will help reduce corruption or errors in supplier analysis.

If the supply chain can depend on the analysis of each supplier, it empowers them to deal with them in the best way possible. Now, the supply chain has a fair picture of what each supplier brings to the table.

This supplier analysis can also help the sourcing team when selecting potential suppliers, whether they are long or short-term prospects.