Is Africa ready for a supply chain sustainability push?

Unsurprisingly, every supply chain sustainability push across Africa has been like pouring water on a duck’s back. And for valid reasons. The continent has been taking the slack where other economies were concerned. There was frankly no time for the idea.

But today, the African economy is on a good track. It is reportedly the fastest growing economy in the world, recently topping Asia. It is only right that we wonder whether the continent is now ready for a sustainability push.


A little bit of context

Africa is arguably one of the most beautiful continents in the world, especially when fixing for nature and diversity of culture. Yet poverty and poor infrastructures have limited its potential.


But why is a supply chain sustainability push important for Africa?

Sustainability is not just a global trend that has no actual substance. The ideology has impacted businesses and communities across the world positively. It also has the potential to lower carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.

But much more than that is its impact on communities and exploitation of cheap labour. More and more businesses and supply chains are forced to up their human resources practices and give back to the communities impacted by their business.

Africa can do with such a push. Although the continent’s economy is the fastest rising, much must be done concerning how businesses and supply chains exploit the system, resources, and communities around them.

It could be all the continent needs to take its economy to the next level.


So, what is the challenge with a supply chain sustainability push in Africa?

It is true that the ideology is making waves. Yes, environments are safer, and people are treated better, but there is a catch. Sustainability can be quite expensive to implement. At least at the initial stage and for supply chains in Africa, that is a major red flag.

Remember that while the continent enjoys massive growth, it is still one of the poorest globally. This means many businesses on the continent are still trying to become more stable. And for all their success, they remain on shaky grounds financially.

Africa’s economy is built on the backs of these small businesses, and their supply chains can only perform as well as the business allows.

All these have made it difficult for the sustainability push to have any chance of success in the past. But interestingly, the resistance wasn’t just from the businesses but the consumers as well. They had no interest in paying more for goods because of a sustainability ideology.


What has changed in Africa?

For starters, the consumers are more informed and earn better. Businesses and supply chains increasingly find themselves at the end of a short stick. Communities across Africa are now demanding reparations for the way various businesses have abused their environment.

It used to be that businesses and consumers were on the same side. But that isn’t so much the case now. Consumers increasingly demand better, and workers also demand better working conditions. The mass job exodus isn’t just applicable in Europe and the West.

All these are great, but it may take a while before much change is realised, primarily because the continent still has a huge poverty level. But supply chains can see the writing on the wall. And they know change is coming.


So, is Africa ready for a supply chain sustainability push?

The short answer is no. However, it is getting there, but it will take more than just a few consumers clamouring for it. It will take supply chains and the government to see that sustainability practices are promoted across the continent.

This means better policies, more enforcement, and an effective plan on the ground that could see to it.