The Southern African Region, comprising 15 unique sovereign states, offers as much opportunity for a good return on investment as any other emerging economy of the World. The deliberate drive towards – a never easy journey of – Regional integration, has broadened the business space for its 255 million inhabitants. This is a Region that has enjoyed socio-economic, political and infrastructural linkages for decades.
However there are many challenges. And for the Freight Forwarding industry, these manifest themselves in many forms ranging from inadequate skills at the firm level to less than optimal systems and infrastructure in the operating environment. Although the Countries of the Region have made many remarkable strides in trying to harmonise systems and leave no one too far behind on the path to integration, the region in some cases still grapples with daunting challenges. Further, this is a Region where, as part of our history, collection of duties has been given priority by Government Agencies over trade facilitation - and its benefits. Sadly therefore border posts are often viewed as points of high impedance to movement of goods rather than merely points of transit. The slow movement of goods in the Region increases the cost of doing business. These costs are passed on to consumers and adversely impact on our ability to compete globally.
The ever growing willingness, however, of policy makers and the public sector to dialogue with business, has over the last two decades contributed enormously to an improved regional business environment. We are also seeing greater understanding and learning on both sides. We believe therefore that the challenges we now face tend to be those of prioritisation (of the many national and regional competing interests and programmes) in implementation. This Region has moved forward in its quest for innovative engagement of interest groups by Governments. But more needs to be done and with a greater sense of urgency to encourage and support the much needed investments and sustainable wealth creating activities.
It is this advocacy space – the open door and accommodation policy – provided by Regional Governments to the private sector, that calls for a proactive and well organised business front. It calls for strengthening of Business Membership Organisations (BMOs) who must position themselves to be all weather dialogue partners of Governments and other stakeholders while delivering value to members and contributing to the growth of our Region.
This Business Plan by the Federation of Clearing and Forwarding Associations of Southern Africa (FCFASA), a Regional BMO formed in April 2010, aims at launching FCFASA into a future of meaningful and results focused public-private dialogue. Whilst to a large extent depending on a “listening” public sector, such a partnership has to be anchored in highly capacitated National and Regional BMOs. Our Business Plan is also a value proposition to new members, development partners and our dialogue partners. It shows who we are, what we stand for and the benefits we intend to deliver to our many stakeholders. We believe that by consistently delivering value, we will ensure the sustainability of this organisation.
Like any other plan, our Business Plan is a living document, to be reviewed annually for relevance and performance. We invite all stakeholders to take a keen interest in its implementation and work with us as we steer through a challenging path to contribute to an efficient Regional Supply Chain.