5 supply chain trends in Africa

Supply chain operations in Africa are evolving quickly, with exciting trends and times ahead for several reasons.

For starters, the pandemic is over. However, the experience propelled many businesses to embrace many modern supply chain principles.

The push has seen a massive boost to the economy.

But the pandemic wasn’t the only problem these supply chains faced in the last few years. There have been countless civil unrest and wars in Africa and beyond. This has left global supply chains constantly on the edge.

Many parts of the continent are still riddled with political crises and the fear of it. However, many businesses and their supply chains are adjusting pretty well.

As supply chains eagerly learn from the mistakes of the past few years, they are being redesigned to withstand disruptions or bounce back from them quickly.

Supply chain agility and flexibility have emerged as the main trend.

To achieve this, the following trends and strategies have been adopted across the continent.


1. Digital Supply Chain

Supply chains are great, but digital supply chains are better. In the past, I have complained about how many African supply chains are resistant to tech solutions that can transform their process.

The good news is more supply chains and businesses are beginning to embrace it, even if for the most part it is at the fundamental level. They have to walk before they can run, right?

Digital supply chains are tools or software that help facilitate the supply chain processes while giving insight into the flow of goods throughout the supply chain.

In the past, it used to be decision-making in supply chains required a lot of protocols and days before all the information needed to make decisions was available.

Most times, this delayed decision-making might be too late, leading to a breakdown of the supply chain.

With digital supply chains, businesses or supply chain managers across Africa can make better and faster decisions.

This increases the supply chain’s productivity while reducing supply chain downtimes.

The speedy decision-making digital supply chains offer also improves the cycle time and flexibility for the supply chain.

There are many tech solutions propelling supply chains across the continent. Warehouse management system, robotics in supply chain, supply chain ERP solutions.


2. Increased Outsourcing

With the supply chain disruptions of the past few years, businesses across the continent are beginning to outsource more of their supply chain.

As outsourcing does, it is helping them focus on the key areas they are very good at, which works well for them.

The key to successful outsourcing is to rely on the strengths of all parties involved in the supply chain process to deliver a quality product to the consumer.

For example, a business may focus on research or manufacturing while outsourcing the fulfilment arm of its supply chain to 4pLs such as Jumia.

Another example: Fast foods and restaurants across the continent are focusing their strengths on cooking quality meals while partnering with logistics partners to deliver to their customers.

But that is not all. The industry also relies on a network of suppliers or vendors to grow, store, and provide the raw materials (food ingredients) to their outlets.

Outsourcing is one of the most potent supply chain trends in Africa. And it has the potential to streamline and get businesses doing way better.


3. More Skilled Labour

Modern innovations in supply chain management are focusing on technology and software. As more supply chains in Africa adopt these technologies, they will need the help of expertise.

It makes sense that these supply chains in Africa are searching for supply chain professionals with the skills to get the best out of these innovations.

With the spotlight on many supply chain operations and compliance, businesses are anxious to get the best out of their supply chain. This anxiety had lead to more job roles within the supply chain industry.

However, with the pandemic, a shortage of skilled labour severely limited supply chains across the globe. 

As the labour force roars back, supply chains across Africa have more hiring options. You can expect a hiring spree.


4. Customer-Centric

African customers are certainly more sophisticated than ever. They want more speed, sustainable products, personalization, and quality products.

And to succeed in an ever-increasing cutthroat and competitive climate, these supply chains have no choice but to cater to their customer’s needs.

The modern supply chain is all about the consumers. When businesses adopt these, customer satisfaction tends to shoot through the roof.

But consumer behaviours rapidly change and expand, so the supply chain has to adjust in stride.

To adjust accordingly, businesses across Africa are finding ways to meet consumer needs and expectations. You can expect the efforts to triple in the near future.


5. More Robust Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is a vital part of the supply chain. But with unprecedented disruptions, supply chains in Africa were ill-equipped to manage many risks.

Risk assessment entails identifying potentially exposed supply chain activities that could affect the whole supply chain management if the threat becomes real.

Businesses will adopt a more robust risk assessment checklist or tools to understand potential disruptors in the future.



The economy and supply chains are expected to recover in many parts of Africa.

The supply chain trends listed in this article will likely be the route most businesses and supply chain operations in Africa will take to boost their sales and customer satisfaction.

As a business or supply chain manager, paying close attention to the trends will also be of great value.