Lori is using technology to revolutionize cargo transport in Africa

By Mark Kawalya

Moving goods in Africa attracts costs that are arguably among the highest in the world. Up to 75% of the cost of a product goes to logistics, compared to only 6% in developed countries like the US.

Lori, a Kenyan-based e-logistics startup, seamlessly connects cargo owners to a network of transporters using a digital platform. The company was started in 2016 by Josh Sandler and Jean-Claude Homawoo and leverages internet technology to revolutionize supply chains. Lori’s efforts are geared towards lowering the final cost of goods for last-mile consumers in a continent that spends more than $180 billion on cargo haulage.

“We manage a network of tens of thousands of trucks with operations across 10 countries in Africa including Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa,” says Homawoo.

After launching their service in Kenya, the firm commenced operations with a network of trucking companies and soon caught the eye of TechCrunch. In 2017, Lori competed with other startups in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield and eventually went on to win the competition. 

The firm’s application provides real-time information and optimization, which is used to make informed decisions (to reduce inefficiencies) and increase the utilization of trucking assets. Similarly, it handles other logistics functions like invoicing, payments and cargo tracking. The all-inclusive platform uses technology to overhaul the traditional trucking business model that has been dogged by issues like trucks making return trips while empty after making deliveries. 

“If one truck breaks down, that’s not an issue because we can send another,” Homawoo says. “Or if the cargo is not ready, we can send that transporter to another site. As long as we keep trucks moving and they’re not running empty miles, which is costly, we believe that the prices will continue to come down. “

While Lori faces competition, technology has given it an edge. A report by Disrupt Africa stated that the firm accounted for more than 40% of the haulage business for grains transported from Kenya to Uganda.

In 2019, the firm expanded into the Nigerian market after a 10-month period of piloting with some of the country’s top haulage companies, such as Olam and Honeywell. 

This expansion into the West African country presents a massive opportunity for Lori Systems, as the company seeks to facilitate and foster technology innovation, smart policy and government partnerships as its operations seamlessly lower the cost of goods in the region. 

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