8 Supply chain risks in Africa to watch out for

Supply chain risks in Africa can be unique compared to other global economies. This uniqueness is because the continent comprises many developing countries trying to build or stabilize their economies. However, collectively, they boast the fastest-rising economy. A robust supply chain is its backbone.


The Supply Chain Management Risks in Africa


#1 Political instability

Political unrest is a significant risk in the African supply chain. Many African countries have a history of political upheaval, which can hamper the flow of commodities and services. Political unrest can lead to border closures, import and export restrictions, and even the nationalization of enterprises. 

These activities can substantially influence your supply chain operations, resulting in delays, higher costs, and worse profitability. To reduce these risks in your supply chain, you must invest in educating your team about the political climate in the countries where they operate and have contingency plans to deal with any potential disruptions.


#2 Infrastructure limitations

Another major risk in the African supply chain is a lack of infrastructure. Inadequate roads, ports, and other transportation infrastructure can substantially influence supply chain efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Poor roads can cause delays and higher transportation expenses, while insufficient ports cause congestion and longer transit times. 

Furthermore, the inconsistent power supply might interrupt operations and cause production delays. To reduce the risk of limited infrastructure, you can invest in improving infrastructure or work with dependable logistics suppliers with the requisite infrastructure.


#3 Customs and border regulations

In the African supply chain, customs and border procedures constitute a substantial risk. Customs processes that are complex and inconsistent can cause delays in clearing products at the border, resulting in higher expenses and lower consumer satisfaction. 

Corruption at border crossings can also slow the clearance process and increase the likelihood of lost or stolen products. To avoid this risk, you should ensure that your supply chain has a solid understanding of customs procedures in the countries where they operate and build strong connections with customs officers to guarantee the smooth clearance of items.


#4 Limited access to finance

In the African supply chain industry, limited access to finance is a big risk. Many African supply chains find it challenging to obtain affordable financing to fund supply chain operations and invest in expansion. This lack of funds can stymie your supply chain network expansion and impede organizations’ capacity to meet client demand. 

To mitigate this risk, consider alternative financing options, such as partnerships with financial institutions, government assistance programs, or crowdfunding platforms. Building excellent ties with financial institutions and demonstrating a respectable track record can also help you secure finance.


#5 Unreliable transportation networks

In the African supply chain, unreliable transportation networks pose a substantial risk. Delays and disturbances in the transit of products can result in poorly maintained roads, limited rail networks, and unreliable air transport. This result leads to higher shipping costs, stockouts, downtimes, and disgruntled customers. 

You should focus your spending on building alternative delivery routes, forming partnerships with dependable transportation providers, and utilizing technology to track and monitor goods in real time to mitigate this risk.


#6 Lack of skilled labour

A fundamental risk in the African supply chain is a shortage of skilled people. Many African countries face a skilled labour shortage, notably in logistics and supply chain management. The labour shortage challenge can result in inefficiencies, increased costs, and decreased competitiveness. 

To avoid this risk, you should use training and development programs to upskill your employees and attract and retain talented individuals. Collaboration with local educational institutions and vocational training institutes can also help bridge the skills gap.


#7 Currency fluctuations

Currency changes are a major source of risk in the African supply chain. Many countries in the continent have volatile currencies, which can affect the cost of imported goods and the profitability of exports. Fluctuating currency rates can also impact raw material pricing and transportation costs. 

Constantly monitor exchange rates, hedge currency risks where possible, and adopt pricing strategies that account for the potential impact of currency fluctuations to limit this risk.


#8 Security concerns

Security concerns pose a significant risk throughout the African supply chain. Theft, piracy, and terrorism can impact commodities’ safe and timely delivery. Because of how interconnected the African economy is, armed conflict and political instability in some countries can aggravate security issues in others. 

To limit this risk, invest in rigorous security measures, such as tracking systems, safe packaging, and insurance coverage. Collaboration with local security agencies and reliable security firms can also help reduce security threats.


Strategies to mitigate Supply Chain risks in Africa

Navigating the African supply chain industry successfully necessitates a proactive approach to risk mitigation. Here are some measures to assist organizations in mitigating the hazards described in this article:

1. Stay informed: Stay current on the political, economic, and social climates in the nations where you operate or aim to expand. The information will enable you to predict future threats and respond appropriately.

2. Diversify suppliers and transportation routes: Relying on a single source or transportation channel might make your supply chain more vulnerable. To lessen the impact of disruptions, diversify your options.

3. Develop strong working relationships with local partners: Building good ties with local partners, such as logistics suppliers, customs officials, and security agencies, will assist you in navigating hurdles synonymous with Africa’s business climate.

4. Invest in technology: Adopt technological solutions that can assist you in tracking and monitoring shipments, streamlining customs clearance processes, and improving overall supply chain visibility.

5. Create contingency plans: Develop plans for anticipated disruptions such as political upheaval or natural calamities. The plans allow you swiftly respond while minimizing the impact on your supply chain.

6. Collaborate with industry peers: Sharing best practices and partnering with other African supply chain organizations can provide useful insights and assist you in identifying potential risks and mitigation methods.



Navigating the supply chain risks in Africa requires a high-level understanding of the unique challenges that your business may face in the region. There are quite several hurdles to overcome. 

However, with the right strategies and a proactive approach to risk mitigation, you can successfully navigate the African supply chain and tap into the continent’s vast opportunities.

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