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Global Supply Chains Cracking under the Strain

From bust to boom, with COVID restrictions removed supply chains are overloaded and businesses crying out for more fuel and parts. The lack of chips for cars and other goods is well covered in the media, so too the problems with petrol and other supplies which has hit Britain recently. But underlying these news-worthy issues are the sudden increase in costs and the problems with sea and air cargo. Cargo ships are being packed with containers, exacerbating delays at already strained ports. The average ship at the Port of Long Beach, California, USA, is bringing in 7,000 containers compared to 4,000 containers before the pandemic, or over 70% more. Older port infrastructure has been unable to keep up.

SAIIA will publish later this month a paper by Michelle Chivunga of The Global Policy House, and myself on the African Free Trade Area and Regional Value Chains in Africa. There will also be a webinar on 21 October. Readers interested please contact me ([email protected]).

The International Air Transport Association has reported that this year African airlines increased freight volumes by 33.5% compared to the same period in 2019 — a bigger increase than anywhere else in the world. Passenger air travel plummeted, but demand for air cargo has surged. With ecommerce up and trucks often unable to cross borders, air freight became a global lifeline transporting medical supplies and personal protective equipment, as well as all kinds of everyday products. Both Ethiopian Airways and Kenya Airways pivoted fast to meet this increasing demand.


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