Successful Delivery To Burkina Faso

A very exciting project as it was a total door-to-door solution that had everything you needed to keep you on your toes.

The expectation was to support my partner as they built a temporary Power Station in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa. Through Planning, Pricing, and Finalising before Doing the logistics within the planned budget and timeline.

In late 2017 I was asked by my partner to provide a price to support their project to power the local community in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, using their Market leading temporary power technology.

As we evolved the understanding over six months of what this means, we went through various stages of defining the logistics requirements so that we could get proposals from our service providers.

Successful Delivery To Burkina FasoSuccessful Delivery To Burkina FasoSuccessful Delivery To Burkina Faso

Defining the Scope – Its always the best place to start

As with any project, this is one of the critical initial requirements and can have the longest-lasting impact should it not be done right.

People working within the logistics world will be aware of the many gaps that come from the initial request to provide a proposal without having the data of what is needed to be achieved.

Some very early questions that took months of evolving discussion with our commercial partner included:

  • What is the cargo
  • What are the weights
  • From where to where
  • Who is arranging the clearance
  • Are there hazardous cargo
  • Any out of gauge
  • How many can the site accept
  • Where do we hold them

And the list goes on.

They are all crucial questions to define the scope. If not, you won’t be able to get the most cost-effective solution. The challenge is moving away from focusing on the cheapest freight to what is a costs effective solution. There is a massive difference between the initial quoted price and the final invoiced amount.

Tough Challenges to Tackle

One of the biggest challenges for this project was defining the import process. This was a DDP project which required us to set up an entity in the country and work with lawyers and banks to finalise what documents were needed. There was minimal data available, so the opportunity was that it created what the answer should be.

Successful Delivery To Burkina FasoTop tip: Regardless of what you are moving, oil rigs, transformers, or flowers, it will be the document that catches you out, and should they be wrong will have the most significant impact on your timeline and costs. Put extra focus on this, and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions; challenge your partner’s understanding, as even the best freight forwarders won’t know the answers straight away.

The next challenge was the route. As Burkina Faso is a land-locked country, getting cargo there requires transit through another country, which has requirements for import and movement, road rules, costs etc. Any solution needs to be wide enough to capture the points along the entire route and be capable of having the answer.

Successful Delivery To Burkina Faso

So what’s next…

Now that we have our scope (or at least the latest version), we start identifying the best local and international partners that could provide the proper support to deliver this successfully. Over many conversations, emails, meetings and calls, we should arrive at a price and timeline that ticks the boxes.

The sourcing exercise, especially for Logistics, can be one of the most comprehensive elements as the correct answer is not just the ability to provide a freight price and transit timeline but having a commercial agreement on

  • How many trucks per day
  • Breakdown process
  • Who will be in charge
  • Will there be someone on the ground
  • Payment / Credit Terms

The details of what can impact the price and the timeline all need to be considered.

And finally, we start moving…

After six months of planning which required us to have a commercially winning bid as well as balancing up the suppliers so we had a solution that was fit for the task, we could start moving forward. Or so I thought

The final piece before we can do Logistics is getting the contracts in place with our service providers that lock in all parties.

Successful Delivery To Burkina FasoAnyone who knows me will know my love/hate relationship with contracts. They are essential for any logistics but require a certain amount of specialised knowledge. It’s not about renting a truck or buying space on a vessel. It’s the details that, if not correctly covered, will catch you out.

This is not easy or straightforward. This was a high-value contract but had many risk elements that could sink its margins from both sides. The tight rope we needed to walk and the compromises needed to leave everyone with the capability to win from the project but ensure that their responsibility and liability were covered was arduous.

It took us two weeks of intense negotiation to finalise the contract.

Ok, so now we start moving.

For me, the actual operations should be the outcome of all the planning. With proper care and experience, we should understand the risk, have the right contingencies in place and the best partners to overcome what we would find on the road as we moved the cargo:

  • 18 origin countries
  • Over 250 containers that were ready over many weeks
  • Multiple convoys of trucks moving within four weeks via the transit country of Ghana
  • 3 Out of Gauge movements requiring specialised multi-axle vehicles
  • Limited civil works to ensure roads were fit for purpose
  • Temporary Import in Burkina Faso

Successful Delivery To Burkina FasoSuccessful Delivery To Burkina Faso

And we were able to successfully manage the many challenges that popped up:

  • The detainment of Ghanian truck drivers in Burkina Faso
    • Was resolved quickly and without any damage
  • Weather damaged roads
    • Be very aware of the season that your moving. Wet season in Africa is no joke.
  • Multiple partners that sometimes acted against the plan
    • Having people on the ground made a difference
  • Breakdowns of trucks
    • Once the movement starts, the schedule needs to be maintained

And again, the list goes on.

But because of the rigorous planning, we delivered the planned volumes on time and within the agreed budgets. Successful Delivery To Burkina Faso

However, I got many more grey hairs and sleepless nights in the process.