Unsung Heroes: Truckers Keep Delivering, Thanks to Online Platform

March 30, 2020
Lekan, kobo360 driver  parked while using the app, Lagos Nigeria.

By Devon Maylie

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa—Logistics and the movement of goods are critical with supply chains under pressure amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why Kobo360, an e-logistics platform operating across Africa, is keeping its trucks moving.

“We need to make sure household and grocery items are still in the stores so people can feed their families and that our pharmaceutical customers are getting the required trucks and services to move medicines,” said Obi Ozor, co-founder and CEO of Kobo360, which connects customers to truck drivers through an online platform in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda.

In Kenya, this is helping Kobo360 customers such as Kenblest Group, a bread and milling company, to get wheat from the Mombasa port to its manufacturing facility outside of Nairobi.

“Food security is number one. If everything is closing down, you need somebody to make sure there is food available,” said Neel Shah, an executive at Kenblest.

Kobo360 connects customers to truck drivers in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda. © Tom Saater/IFC (2019)

Thanks to Kobo360 trucks carrying wheat from the ports, the company has been able to maintain its milling capacity of 300 tons a day and bake 250,000 loafs of bread, helping to stock grocery shelves.

Kobo360’s Ozor said food products account for more than 50 percent of the platform’s clients across the markets it works in and pharmaceuticals make up around 4 percent. The company said it’s doing less movement of non-essential items such as cement and construction materials. Currently, Kobo360 has over 17,000 trucks across its five markets operating as independent contractors.

Kobo360 trucks move cargo, so to help with the last-mile delivery to individual households, the company is teaming up with e-commerce delivery companies, offering a subsidy to make delivery more affordable while also encouraging self-isolation measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

A portrait of Obi Ozor, co-founder and CEO of Kobo360, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in 2018. © Dominic Chavez/IFC.

A critical piece to keep truck movement flowing is driver safety. Kobo360 sends text messages throughout the day with health and safety tips to drivers and is working with governments and health departments. It also guarantees drivers get paid within five minutes of delivery.

“The drivers are the ones at the forefront and we need to make sure we keep them safe,” said Ozor.

Published in March 2020