Online bidding portal eyes cargo transportation in East Africa

A new online bidding system seeks to tap into the multi-billion shilling cargo transportation sector in East and Central Africa.

Through an online portal, three Kenyan entrepreneurs seek to inject competitive bidding into the cargo transportation sector to unlock significant cost-savings, efficiency and more choice for cargo holders.

Co-founder of the initiative Mr Ahmed Abdi Elmi says the interactive portal ( also seeks to enhance business for  established and upcoming road transportation firms by linking them with more clients in Kenya and beyond at the click of a button.

“This online bidding system is meant to alleviate inefficiencies in today’s freight transportation market. We seek to facilitate both sides of the commercial transportation market including clients with cargo and carriers who haul freight,” he said in an interview at the firm’s Nairobi headquarters.

He adds: “Making cargo transportation by road more efficient will bring down costs and make the sector more competitive. It will also reduce the cost of doing business in the country and the region.”

Under the online bidding system, cargo holders post information about their cargo to the secure portal at no charge, signalling transporters who have joined the portal to submit their confidential bids via the same portal to transport the cargo.

The cargo holders then review the received bids and select the winning bid based on their requirements. The winning transporters are then notified and linked to the clients by “ibidnship” after paying a fee.

“So far, the portal is attracting growing interest of established transport firms keen to expand their client base. Also, the number of cargo holders looking for a good deal for transportation of their cargo is increasing steadily,” he asserts.

He added: “We are partnering with major stakeholders in the road cargo transportation industry to further scale up use of the portal to enhance its impact in the sector.”

Mr. Elmi indicates that the online bidding portal targets shippers/cargo holders and transporters of all sizes across east and Central Africa, including those moving goods or household items within cities and towns.

Before transporters can be allowed a space in the portal to bid for cargo, they are at first vetted to ensure they meet minimum legal and capacity requirements.

Cargo holders are able to view profiles of transporters before accepting a bid, including their experience in the transport business, ratings by other clients, and the number of consignments delivered in the past among other parameters.

All types of cargo are handled by the portal including cross-border, high-value cargo and short haul.

Transporters and owners of goods are not allowed to post contact information on the portal, failure to which their accounts in the portal are suspended.

The cargo transportation sector in Kenya and the region is still largely dominated by truck operators who control over 90 per cent of the business.

But the recent commissioning of SGR promising lower freight charges and speedier deliveries has compelled transporters to go back to the drawing board to preserve market share.

The Kenya Railways which is in charge of SGR is eyeing a big chunk of the freight business to and from Mombasa, and this would significantly eat into the market share of road hauliers if they don’t innovate.

“We see our online bidding portal as a timely innovation and may contribute in making road transporters remain competitive and efficient in a fast-changing business environment,” said Mr Elmi.

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