The leader of the e-pack...

The top air cargo service provider in Africa, Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services, is building Africa’s largest e-commerce hub at a cost of $50 million at its facility in Addis Ababa.

Picture: Ethiopian Cargo

Putting the E in Africa: The e-commerce hub will be equipped with an automated sortation system. Picture: Ethiopian Cargo

With a floor area of 15,000 sq.m the at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, the new infrastructure for ecommerce will, upon completion, handle 23 million parcels per annum. 

The e-commerce hub will be equipped with an automated sortation system and electronic transport vehicles (ETV) to handle shipments ranging from small parcels to boxes, skids, and builtup units.

The need for specialized global standard ecommerce logistics services came into picture with the growing of the global ecommerce business, especially after the outbreak of COVID-19. Cognizant to the growing demand for e commerce services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic Ethiopian, started investing on the requirements for a standard ecommerce center.

According to Abel Alemu, Managing Director, Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services, the e commerce hub comprises dedicated warehouse facility, and modern IT infrastructure as well as a well-trained workforce.

“The main objective of the ecommerce centre is to be an ecommerce parcel distribution hub and a gateway for Africa. Being strategically located in the horn of Africa as access to the entire continent via our vast network, we also aim to serve the global market through digitalized and innovative solution by availing seamless connectivity,” Alemu said.

He claims that Ethiopian upcoming ecommerce hub is first of its kind in Africa adding that it is the largest e commerce hub in the continent. “As we all know ecommerce is becoming the new normal trend and growing so fast all around the world including Africa which has the youngest population and high mobile phone penetration which will further expedite the ecommerce penetration in the region,” Alemu said.

With more than 60 destinations in Africa Ethiopian Airlines has an extensive network in the continent.

“Ethiopian Airlines having its huge network all over Africa will further complement the e commerce hub initiative that the continent has to increase its digital trade within the region and with the rest of the world. This will be done by working closely with 3rd party logistics companies in the market including courier companies, postal operator, integrators, etc. for the required first and last mile logistics service and with different ecommerce startups in the region, “Alemu said.

The construction of the e commerce hub commenced in November 2021. Currently 80 percent of the work has been accomplished and its completion is slated for November 2023. The total cost of the project is estimated at $50 million.

The Chinese contractor, China National Aero Technology International Engineering Corporation (AVIC) is undertaking the construction work while a joint venture consulting firm of Dar-Al-Handash (Share and Partners) and BNP Associates Inc is consultant of the project.

Ethiopian Cargo has 15 dedicated cargo aircraft- 4 B737-800F each having 22,500 KG per flight carrying capacity. Ethiopian has converted two of its B767s to cargo each having 50,000 KG per flight capacity. It also has nine B777-200F each carrying 100,000 KG per flight. The airline has five B777Fs on order.

Ethiopian cargo terminal has the capacity to handle one million tons of cargo per annum.     

Ethiopian Airlines Group and DHL Global Forwarding are working as a joint venture for the logistics growth of Ethiopia including the air, road, ocean and sea freight service. Alemu believes that Ethiopia will benefit from this partnership in terms of technology and skill transfer, besides the cooperation results in employment opportunities. DHL will also provide the last mile delivery service to Ethiopian Airlines customers.

Currently, Ethiopian Airlines is in close discussion to extend the partnership further in the ecommerce business.

Ethiopian Airlines has also partnered with postal firm MailAmericas to develop cross-border e-commerce services within Africa and the Middle East using Addis Ababa as a hub. According to the agreement the tie-up will see Ethiopian Airlines offer MailAmericas its air transport services for carrying goods across its network.

As one of the leading global air cargo operators, Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services covers more than 130 international destinations around the world with both belly hold capacity and 68 dedicated freighter services.

Kaleyesus Bekele

Kaleyesus Bekele

Based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Kaleyesus has been serving African Aerospace magazine as correspondent since 2013.