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TradeMark Africa launches Logistics Innovation for Trade Fund in Europe

Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 12th February 2015: TradeMark Africa (TMA), an organisation supporting the growth of trade in the East African region, today announced the European launch of its Logistics Innovation for Trade (LIFT) fund – a completely new source of financing for transport and logistics companies interested in doing business in the East African Community (Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania).

The LIFT challenge fund – which is managed by TMA with funding support from the UK’s Department for International Development – provides grants ranging from US$200,000 to US$750,000 to companies that are operating (or interested in operating) in the East African Community (EAC) to develop and test new ideas that could reduce the cost and time of transport and logistics in the region.
Speaking at the European launch event, Frank Matsaert, CEO of TMA, said, “TMA works closely with governments, the private sector and civil society to unlock East Africa’s economic potential through increased market access, an enhanced trade environment and greater competitiveness. Through our European launch we hope to attract new investment in East Africa to improve logistics and build on a promising and profitable sector.”

The LIFT fund is open to companies from all over the world. Applications are particularly welcomed from logistics and transportation companies in the world’s leading logistics hubs, including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium. The Rotterdam launch event was attended by representatives of companies including Finlays, the International Road Transport Union and Royal Haskoning.

In recent years, the economies of the East African region have grown by an average of about 6% per year, despite the fact that there have been no major mineral exports from the region. Since 2008, freight volumes through the region’s major ports, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, have been growing at 8% and 13% per year respectively. Mombasa now handles more than 22 million tons per annum and is expected to handle 27 million tons per annum by 2016, serving Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With this growth has come a series of major transport infrastructure investments in Kenya and Tanzania to handle the increased freight volumes. Given this situation, there are now an ever-growing number of business opportunities for European transport and logistics companies to engage with the East Africa region, particularly in the fields of: load tracking; materials handling; intermodal operations; cold-chain management; specialised warehousing; and shared resources for small and medium-sized (SME) logistics providers.

For many companies, however, the prospect of entering a market with so many challenges is daunting. LIFT aims to reduce the risk of investment by providing a matching grant to companies with transformative technologies or improved practices that will have a significant impact on the efficiency of the transport and logistics sector across East Africa. LIFT will provide financial support, allocated through a competitive process, to test the commercial viability of projects proposed by businesses.

Jeroen Roodenburg, from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sustainable Economic Development added: “We support low and middle income countries in addressing constraints in connecting to regional and global markets. That’s why we partner with the private sector to invest in local infrastructure and logistics. In the area of logistics, Dutch companies offer technology and expertise of the highest quality“

As Buddhika Samarasinghe (a Challenge Fund expert closely involved with the LIFT fund) put it: “Today highlighted that East Africa is open for business and that low levels of sophistication in the transport and logistics industry there offer large and potentially lucrative opportunities for innovative firms in Europe/Germany/the Netherlands/Belgium/the UK.We encourage local businesses that are interested in entering this market to take advantage of the LIFT initiative and to put forward new approaches and ideas that can be leveraged in the East African market.”

About LIFT

LIFT is a challenge to the private sector to develop and test new ideas that could reduce the cost and time of transport and logistics. It will co-invest with the private sector in projects that have the potential to achieve this but may be too risky to undertake without TMA’s support. It is open to businesses throughout the world that are operating or will operate in the EAC. It is a competitive facility which will support the most promising projects.

You will find more details of the eligibility criteria, the application procedure, and other related information at: www.Lift-Fund.com

Source: TradeMark Africa (TMA)

 

TradeMark Africa (TMA) is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TradeMark Africa (TMA) operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. TradeMark Africa (TMA) works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.