OMA Group was founded 20 years ago and has become a diversified logistics and shipping company operating across West Africa. What have been the most recent developments?

In recent times, the shipping industry has experienced significant profitability. However, this growth has been accompanied by disruptions in the supply chain, which have posed challenges for our operations. The impact of Covid-19 has intensified these disruptions, adding pressure to our team and causing delays in delivery timelines for various industries. Despite these challenges, we have had a reasonably successful year in terms of business growth. Looking ahead, we anticipate double-digit growth for 2022, as many opportunities in our pipeline are transforming into tangible realities. We are witnessing more international companies and freight forwarders placing their trust in OMA as a neutral and independent partner. Another noteworthy development is the reinforcement of our logistics workforce. We have expanded our sales team significantly to generate leads for our partners and enhance control over local businesses. Previously, we primarily relied on our network agents, but now our local businesses have grown by 30-40%. The mining industry, in particular, has seen a shift toward local decision-making, highlighting the importance of a strong sales and operational team on the ground.

What are your key geographies of interest?

OMA Group has affiliates in several countries, including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Benin, Togo, and Mauritius. Additionally, we have partnerships in Nigeria and Angola, and a network of agents in Cameroon, Liberia, Mauritania, and Chad. Our next focus is to strengthen our presence in Niger by the end of this year, followed by Mali. We are also exploring opportunities in Namibia. Although we already handle projects and freight forwarding in these countries through our partners, we see significant potential for new business opportunities and infrastructure developments. These expansions are driven by customer demands and the needs of our network agents.

What factors influenced OMA Group’s decision to choose Mauritius as a hub office?

Mauritius offers several advantages that influenced our decision. The country excels in terms of transparency, governance, and its legal sector. Additionally, Mauritius is a bilingual country, with both English and French being widely spoken. This makes it an ideal location for managing and conducting business in both anglophone and francophone speaking Africa.

Do you anticipate any impact from the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)?

The AfCFTA is an ambitious initiative involving more than 40 countries. Implementing such a vast structure naturally takes time, and it will be a while before it resembles a Schengen-like system. Nevertheless, the intention and potential impact of the AfCFTA should not be underestimated. Regional blocs like SADC and COMESA are also establishing non-taxable, duty-free commercial lanes, which will boost intra-African trade, following the example set by other global commercial blocks.

As the COO of the group, how do you define operational excellence?

Operational excellence, from our perspective, involves a newly launched in-house system designed to mitigate the risks associated with handling shipments in Africa. Through this system, we can provide our clients with an operational dashboard that considers costs and potential delays. It enables us to take corrective actions proactively. Clients often express concerns about unforeseen challenges leading to higher costs than initially estimated. The new dashboard is currently being piloted in Ghana and will subsequently be rolled out to Ivory Coast, followed by other OMA countries in West Africa. Furthermore, we are striving for excellence by exerting greater control over cargo delivery times. For instance, in Ivory Coast, we have reduced airfreight clearance time from 4-5 days to 1-2 days and shortened sea cargo clearing from 14 days to 5 days.

Do you have any final message or thoughts?

In our view, logistics is ultimately about the quality of people and their attitude. At OMA, we consider ourselves a family, investing significant time in training, workshops, and sharing expertise and best practices among our team members. I can assure you that our people are highly accountable, taking full ownership of shipments and treating them as if they were their own. This level of dedication and responsibility is what clients can expect when working with OMA.

You may also be interested in...