kenya cargo

Kenya has stepped up its standards in pharmaceuticals handling via its flag-carrier’s facility in Nairobi, but some flower exports could be heading to key markets by sea.

Kenya Airways Cargo was awarded the Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification by IATA for its KQ facility in Nairobi, which formally endorses the airline’s sustained ability to safely handle high-value, time-sensitive and temperature-controlled transport of pharmaceuticals.

KQ Cargo contracted MDG, an Italy-based consultant to support the airline by conducting a gap analysis. Its report highlighted major aspects that needed to be addressed, both in infrastructure and skillsets.

This led to “a two-year journey of rigorous audits, infrastructure setup, training and other requirements for the certification”, a source at KQ Cargo told The Loadstar.

Africa’s pharmaceutical industry presents significant growth opportunities. According to KQ, in East Africa alone, the market is expected to grow by 12% a year, and the airline is keen to tap into that opportunity.

And there are growing calls for Africa to produce more pharma products locally and become less reliant on overseas supply – the pandemic clearly demonstrated that need. According to the International Finance Corporation, in most of sub-Saharan Africa, pharma imports comprise 70% to 90% of the drugs consumed.

There are some positive developments in the region, for instance the new African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF) that aims to enhance access to the technologies for manufacturing medicines, vaccines and other pharma products. In parallel with properly executing a single unified air transport system, there would be opportunities for more intra-African pharma cargo routes.

In the wider cool-chain market, reports have surfaced that flower shipments from Kenya may head to markets like Europe via shipping lanes instead of air freight. The European Union says this could enable Kenya to shift to exporting half of its horticulture produce from air to sea freight in the next 10 years.

This says the EU, will reduce both the carbon footprint and the cost of exports, adding that several larger companies have already started to use sea freight to export of flowers, vegetables and fruits, and the sector is now aiming for “a transformative and larger shift”.

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