African Logistics

Another passport stamp as we landed in Livingstone, Zambia for day 8 of our market study trip. In America we would say that this brief exposure is “just the tip of the iceberg”. But in Africa we say that we are “just scratching the ears of the hippo”.

After getting checked into the hotel, we jetted off to Victoria Falls. The Zambezi River serves as the natural border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Millions of gallons of water pour over the edge of a series of gorges that were created on natural fault lines. The water descends with such ferocity that mist and spray rises hundreds of feet into the air. With nearly 2km long of falls, the incredible force puts our own Niagra Falls to shame.

The majesty of the falls was truly incredible but as we flew over the falls one thing stood out. The line of trucks along the side of the road was nearly a kilometer long. These freight trucks – many loaded down with agricultural products – were waiting to cross the boarder into Zimbabwe. Livingstone sits on the main north/south thoroughfare between Cairo (Egypt) and Cape Town (South Africa). To get goods south to South Africa you must first pass through Zimbabwe. The problem is getting approval to cross the boarder. Trucks can sit and wait for up to two weeks which can be a major problem if the goods are perishable.

Many of the roads in South Africa were well maintained, but many others were potholed and rough dirt or gravel roads. Road quality paired with the difficulty of crossing borders seems to be a major issue for farmers. This underscores the difficulty of getting agriculture products to market without a good logistical system and infrastructure. With improvements to these systems could come major advancements in marketing agricultural products.


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