Skip to content
Home » GCCA: Africa Future Leader Award finals

GCCA: Africa Future Leader Award finals

Written by Eamonn Ryan

Megan Graaf, a supply chain solutions architect from Vector Logistics, was announced as the 2023 winner of the Africa Future Leader Award at the GCCA African Cold Chain conference on 3 August in Cape Town.

GCCA Africa director Lizelle van der Berg presented the two finalists for the Africa Future Leader Award at the GCCA African Cold Chain conference. “The time has arrived for the two finalists of the GCCA Africa Future Leader Award, an esteemed recognition bestowed upon exceptional young professionals in the African cold storage industry, who have displayed great potential for future career growth. These two finalists have successfully completed the rigorous application process, including a 10-minute recorded presentation and subsequently underwent in-person interviews with our esteemed panel of judges earlier today.”

The runner-up was Peter Juma Echulet, operations manager of Big Cold in Kenya.

Thanks were extended to the 2023 judges for dedicating their time and effort to evaluate this initiative: Ivan Sutic, financial director of Chilleweni Cold Storage Solutions, Owusu Akoto, CEO FreezeLink and Renier du Preez, CEO of Digistics.

“Congratulations to both Megan and Peter on reaching this prestigious stage of the competition. We eagerly anticipate your presentations on the challenges and trends within the cold storage industry,” says Van der Berg.

The following is an excerpt from Graaf’s presentation: “Thank you all for joining us today. We will be discussing several important aspects of South Africa’s cold chain industry, particularly regarding the use of solar power and alternative energy sources. Our objective is to increase production and enhance technology, automation and accessibility in our facilities. Technological advancements have made it easier for participants to access the necessary resources, resulting in market consolidation through acquisitions and changes in consumer purchasing patterns. Seasonality, impacted by events like Black Friday, is also changing. Additionally, there is an increasing demand for improved service and responsiveness to customer queries and concerns.

“When it comes to the challenges faced by the cold chain in South Africa, we cannot ignore the rising costs of inflation and fuel, which have a significant impact on distribution costs throughout the supply chain. These cost increases also affect the purchasing power of end consumers. Moreover, the growing number of vehicles on the road is causing fuel consumption to surge, particularly for generators used in our facilities. The unpredictable fluctuations in logistics further complicate planning and budgeting for the entire chain, including manufacturers and producers who strive to minimise waste. Although the country has fairly robust infrastructure, it is causing distribution issues within South Africa and neighbouring regions. Additionally, disruptions like machinery strikes can severely impact the import and export of temperature-sensitive products, resulting in delays, quality issues
and wasted resources.”

“To address these challenges, we need to enhance our resilience as an industry. The past year has demonstrated our remarkable ability to navigate through the pandemic and other disruptive events. However, we must now strive to become more anti-fragile by increasing our capacity to thrive in the face of volatility, uncertainty, and protecting our systems. This can be achieved by reducing our reliance on electricity and fuel, combating the effects of load-shedding and high fuel prices, and promoting the decarbonisation agenda through reduced electricity consumption. The adoption of technology will drive efficiency improvements within our cold chains and help reduce costs. Leveraging technology will also advance automation in businesses and provide greater visibility across our supply chains, enabling us to identify disruptions and breakdowns proactively.” “Active analytics can play a significant role in allowing us to be more proactive and identify potential future breakdowns. Furthermore, increased collaboration across the entire supply chain, including suppliers, producers, retailers and consumers, will build a more resilient and anti-fragile chain. This collaborative approach will enhance visibility and ultimately benefit all parties involved. We must recognise the critical importance of maintaining a strong cold chain to minimise waste and ensure food security in our country. Excess products should be donated to food banks and other organisations so that nothing goes to waste.”

The following is an excerpt from Echulet’s presentation: “In terms of the cold chain in East Africa, we have seen significant improvements. Firstly, there has been a focus on the horticultural industry, with a rise in the number of different types of centres. In the food and beverage sector, there has been increased government support for the cold chain.”

“One major challenge is the limited access to cold chain facilities for local farmers, as most of these facilities are located in urban markets. The cost of setting up cold chain facilities is also a significant challenge in our region, making it slightly expensive. Another challenge is the perception among farmers that cold chain is a cost rather than a value-add.”

“Despite these challenges, there have been several opportunities for growth in the industry. Post-harvest losses have been reduced, with production processes improving and losses decreasing from 60% to 25%. The emergence of industry specialists has also provided a platform for changes and advancements.”

“Overall, the cold chain sector in East Africa has experienced immense growth supported by the government and an increase in awareness about the value of cold chain. This growth is expected to continue, with positive impacts on the economy and global market.”

Graaf announced as the winner and congratulated by the judges: Ivan Sutic, financial director of Chilleweni Cold Storage Solutions and Renier du Preez, CEO of Digistics. Image supplied by © Eamonn Ryan | Cold Link Africa
Graaf announced as the winner and congratulated by the judges: Ivan Sutic, financial director of Chilleweni Cold Storage Solutions and Renier du Preez, CEO of Digistics. Image supplied by © Eamonn Ryan | Cold Link Africa

Van der Berg then announced the winner as Megan Graaf.