Global Sourcing and Distribution

Supply chain researchers and practitioners gathered for a 2-day virtual forum to discuss global sourcing and distribution in April. The event’s goal was to inform supply chain practitioners, academics, and the public about global sourcing and distribution issues and innovative practices for solving complex problems. The event hosted six subject matter experts from diverse supply chain sectors.

Photo by Andy Li on Unsplash

On the first day, John Frederick Dadzie, Deputy Programme Manager, Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) of Ghana Health Service, William Ofori, Lead Consultant, Chiron Health Consult and former Regional Director-West Africa AstraZeneca, and Bindiya Vakil, CEO of Resilinc, discussed the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Ghana and opportunities for Africa to take the lead in manufacturing medications.

Ofori’s presentation focused on the operational and logistical challenges in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa. In addition to these identified challenges, Ofori stated that Africa has become over-dependent on COVAX (a joint venture to provide vaccinations to low- and middle-income countries), which may pose problems in the long run. He stressed how important it is for regulators, industry, and governments to work together to reach herd immunity saying, “the world needs us; Africa can create vaccines for the world — none are safe until all are safe.”

Even though many countries in Africa have received vaccines, there are still challenges with assurances that vaccines will arrive, temperature monitoring, global allocation, transportation, and logistics — especially in the cold chain. 

Dadzie explains that “unless all these challenges are addressed, vaccines will not be supplied globally in an effective manner.”

Vakil expressed optimism for Africa’s future supply chains. “When it comes to supply chains, all roads lead to Africa, which is well-positioned to receive a significant investment.” 

Vakil added that even though supply chains have become fragile globally, Africa has the opportunity to position itself as the center of the world due to its vast resources. 

Vakil also stressed the need for supply chain assurances, “supply chain is in the business of assurance, not cost savings and cost reduction.” 

On the second day, Jamey Butcher, President and CEO of Chemonics, and Naa Adorkor Yawson, Zipline Ghana’s Country Director, highlighted their successes and challenges in strengthening supply chains in Ghana and around the world.

“Our goal at Chemonics is to put ourselves out of business,” said Butcher as he described how the organization’s most successful work has been in countries where they no longer operate. 

“We have 14 multidisciplinary practices that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, and we work to support the priorities of the people where we work. We build and operate supply chains, and then we work with our counterparts to hand over operations to the communities we work with.” 

Due to the massive fluctuations in supply chains within the past year, Chemonics set up an Emergency Supply Chain Playbook and a COVID-19 assistance package that created new teams and procedures to expedite the delivery of critical commodities. Butcher stressed the importance of digitizing African supply chains so that supply chain decisions can be evidence-based.

Yawson highlighted the difficulties of storing and transporting cold temperature products, especially for rural healthcare facilities. With drone technology, such products can be delivered to the doorsteps of these remote communities. Yawson further outlined Zipline Ghana’s role in delivering vital shipments via the fastest, most reliable autonomous aircraft delivery service in the world. 

Shemau Muniru, Fulfillment Operations Professional at Zipline Ghana, took participants through a live tour of Zipline’s warehouse and distribution center located in the Northern region of Ghana. Participants were virtually transported to their facility as drones were shot into the sky in real-time to deliver vital healthcare products around Northern Ghana.

At the end of both sessions, participants divided into breakout sessions to discuss the various challenges and needs of supply chain actors in Ghana and Africa. CARISCA will use these discussions and future stakeholder forums to guide its curriculum development and its applied and academic research agendas.




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