Experts from the University of Hull are embarking on a new partnership with a leading logistics service provider in Morocco.
Staff from the University's Logistics Institute are set to begin work immediately on two supply chain and logistics related projects, as part of a long-term collaboration with state-owned but privately managed transport company SNTL. Initially, the company and the Logistics Institute will be jointly developing a new logistics hub index.
The index will be used to measure the potential of countries, particularly in Africa, to become logistics hubs and taps into the Logistics Institute's extensive expertise and research in this field. The joint venture to develop the index was agreed after Professor Amar Ramudhin, Director of the Logistics Institute, visited Morocco to give a talk on emerging trends in the logistics sector.
Professor Ramudhin said: "This collaboration will give the University visibility in a modern, rapidly developing country in a key location for international trade. Currently, we don't have a profile in French-speaking countries in Africa, so in that respect, it's a first. For the Logistics Institute, it brings added credibility to be able to showcase our expertise in emerging countries such as Morocco. It builds on the work I have done before with Georgia Tech Panama to position that country as the logistics hub of the Americas."
Mohamed Benouda, CEO, SNTL Group, said: "We strongly believe in the potential for partnership between the Kingdom of Morocco and the United Kingdom. Economic relations between the two are booming. The UK is one of Morocco's oldest trading partners and one of the top ten foreign investors in the country. The Kingdom of Morocco, with its political stability and good economic performance, is already the largest partner of the United Kingdom in the Maghreb region."
Professor Ramudhin hopes the logistics hub development index could become as important as the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) in judging the logistic state of countries. He said: "People talk about the LPI developed by the World Bank. I'm hoping our index becomes one of those that people immediately refer to when they talk about logistics."
The Logistics Institute and SNTL are also planning a follow up project where they will use the index to map the logistics capabilities of countries across Africa. Professor Ramudhin said they are looking to develop a "tighter relationship" with SNTL, which could see key employees coming for further studies in Hull.
He added: "If Morocco scores well in the index, they can use it as evidence to show the world its potential to be a major logistics hub for Africa. We also want to help them develop a suite of business intelligence products that go further than just reporting and to understand the types of value added services they can develop to offer to a wider portfolio of services."
SNTL was founded in 1937 and is the leading company for freight transportation and warehousing in Morocco, with more than 20 million tonnes of goods transported each year and an annual turnover of more than £60 million. The company has a key role to play in Morocco's ambition to become a major logistics hub for Africa.
Professor Ramudhin added: "Tangiers is a modern container port that can handle the largest container ships. Morocco's geography makes it a very attractive place for hub operations because it's close to Europe, on a major trade route, has a great port and an excellent road network.
"As a stable country with a stable economy, it's an attractive place to do business. The other area they want to develop is renewables, which has a direct link with East Yorkshire. Morocco has just unveiled the largest solar farm in the world and has a lot of onshore wind turbines. It can be a leader in renewables for Africa, just as we can be a leader in offshore wind for Europe."