7 Tips to Cut Costs of Transportation in Africa

The costs of transportation is a growing concern for businesses across Africa, especially with the current economic downturn.

However, the industry is still quite profitable in transporting people, goods, or cargo.

Cutting down costs is an essential part of any supply chain. However, transportation can be tricky, especially in a continent as unique as Africa.

Especially because of the nuances every industry faces. From food to fashion and electronics.

In this article, we review seven tips that can help supply chains across the continent reduce their transportation costs.


1. Invest in Better Infrastructure and Equipment

Regarding infrastructure and Equipment in Africa, it is a two-fold issue. A major part is from the government, and the other less significant part is from the businesses.

Public Infrastructure across different African regions is way behind compared to most places worldwide.

These infrastructures include roads, electricity, and the internet. Did you know only a quarter of the African roads are paved?

Transportation is one of the areas impacted by the deficiency in infrastructure. It leads to damage to vehicles, longer routes, and insecurity.

This is a huge impact area the African government can step into because it will help facilitate trade across the continent and reduce business costs.

Because of the poor road conditions, businesses tend to purchase low-cost vehicles or underwhelming vehicles.

These businesses believe it is a better investment, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

After all, quality is always cheaper.

These underwhelming vehicles are prone to accidents and persistent repairs, costing the business way more than better-quality vehicles.

When both parties work on investing in better infrastructures and equipment, transportation costs will reduce considerably for businesses in Africa, as shown in the rest of the world.


2. Security

Security is another vital issue across Africa. From coups to highway robberies, there seems to be one thing after the other.

Security concerns make businesses invest more in transporting their goods and people to ensure safe deliveries.

Most of these costs are unnecessary, especially if the governments can tackle the crime rate on the continent, especially for small businesses.

With better security comes a lower rate for insurance; businesses can also reduce security personnel and energy consumption accrued from longer routes taken.


3. Technology

It is a fact that technology makes everything better.

Businesses can track, automate, and monitor data by implementing technology in their transportation process.

Tracking tools use GPS, which allows you to locate and monitor your vehicles remotely. With this GPS technology, you can also optimize routes for your vehicles.

Route optimization is essential when reducing costs, especially because it helps conserve energy.

With tech solutions like data analysis, you can collect data from your transportation process, including vehicle maintenance and find out areas costing you money.

Armed with this information, you can review and take necessary action.

For instance, if a particular truck is giving you problems, you can replace it or overhaul it to stop the constant trip to the mechanics.

Technology also allows you to automate transportation processes like the loading and offloading goods and cargo, making it safer and faster.

Automation reduces errors and the need for human labour, saving the business and supply chain money.


4. Preventive Maintenance

It is true that African roads are bad enough, but perhaps a bigger problem is the habit of business owners across Africa to disregard preventive maintenance.

The typical business wants to manage its vehicles until they completely break down, which has proven counterproductive over and over again.

This type of practice leads to delays, supply chain disruptions, and, the biggest one of them all, customer dissatisfaction.

On the other hand, preventive maintenance takes care of the small inexpensive issues before it becomes rather big and expensive.

Preventive maintenance ensures your vehicles last longer. It also causes fewer disruptions or breakdowns in the supply chain process.

Overall, it is an effective strategy for businesses across Africa to engage when reducing transportation costs.


5. Get Creative

Transportation managers and business owners can identify money-saving areas that they can manipulate to save their transportation a ton of money.

Some examples of such areas are:


Intermodal Transportation

Road is the major mode of transportation in Africa but not the only mode. Each mode of transportation has its advantages and disadvantages.

The road is ultimately favoured because it is fast and connects more people and places.

Although other modes do not have this, they also have their strengths.

For instance, trains can take on way more goods and are cheaper.

Water vessels are slower, but they can be used to transport large quantities of petroleum products and other types of cargo.

Trying out a mix of each while leveraging their strengths is a good way to curb costs.

The major problem with this is that other modes of transportation are so underwhelming that people and businesses prefer to stick to roads.

However, there are opportunities for different industries to try out.


Alternative Energy

Many businesses across Africa focus on the regular fuels “PMS & AGO” as the primary energy source for their vehicles.

However, there are opportunities for cheaper and more sustainable types of energy. Examples are electricity and gas (CNG). CNG means compressed natural gas.

With these types of alternative energy, businesses in Africa can reduce excessive transportation costs attached to the regular fuel.



Low truck loads (L-T-L)  are painfully expensive.

However, by consolidating different products or partnering with other transportation companies, businesses and supply chains can cut considerable costs.

Consolidation is an opportunity to use fewer trips to transport different products in the supply chain or business.


6. Communication

Communication is an essential part of any business or supply chain.

It is a universally known problem, yet still a common issue.

Communication breakdowns lead to delays and mistakes, ultimately leading to supply chain disruptions.

When errors such as double entries or mixed locations exist, energy and resources are expanded, which will not be returned.

When there is a breakdown in communication between businesses and their suppliers or between departments, it often leads to errors and delays.

To curb this, businesses and supply chains should encourage seamless and easy-flowing communication between all stakeholders (internal or external).

Communication is handy when trying to cut transportation costs for businesses in Africa.



7. Prioritize Driver Satisfaction

Drivers are a key aspect of transportation. Next to the vehicle, they are probably the most important aspect of it.

I have written an extensive article on how to improve your truck driver’s performance.

Prioritizing your driver’s satisfaction ensures you avoid a high turnover of drivers, which is common for most businesses across Africa.

It also ensures drivers are eager to work with you rather than against you.

When your drivers are happy, they tend to work better, maintain the vehicles better and are eager to spot potential areas of improvement.



The high transportation costs on a continent like Africa can be quite difficult for businesses.

However, these expenses can be considerably decreased with the appropriate solutions.

Several options exist, from putting money into infrastructure to embracing technology and prioritising driver pleasure.

By implementing these suggestions, businesses and supply chains can more successfully manage the particular difficulties faced by African transportation, enhancing their competitiveness and profitability in the market.

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