Angola’s role as a logistics hubSeptember 14, 2022
Sebastien Quedrue, Angola managing director for Advanced Maritime Transports (AMT), talks to The Energy Year about trends shaping the logistics services market globally and how the company has updated its strategy and service offering following the pandemic. AMT is a provider of logistics, supply chain solutions and ships agency services.
What are the latest trends shaping the logistics services market globally?
Without talking about the trends of worldwide logistics like big promises of big data, embedded integration technologies, integrated 3PL services, globalisation and compliance, etc., we could observe in our market that because the IOCs work worldwide, they’re looking more and more into logistics providers with a global reach and a worldwide organisation. This is a big trend that goes hand in hand with the aggregating movement we have observed for a few years within the logistics companies, through M&As.
This may sound like bad news for companies like us, but it’s actually not the case. Indeed, when the big ones are fighting on prices and on standardisation of their solutions, there is a growing need for tailored, innovative yet reactive solutions from our complex market.
So yes, we are more competitive than ever as we intend to provide a better service, with a solid added value in terms of quality, experience and expertise.
How has the company leveraged market trends to diversify its business portfolio?
The market has obviously changed since the pandemic. We now consider that owning assets gives us the leverage to be more present and effective in Angola, providing customers with additional types of services and always ensuring the same level of quality and efficiency.
For end-to-end logistics, we have invested in a logistics base close to Sonils and are now developing another one in another location closer to the future market developments we will target. These include all logistics services with a very novel and competitive warehousing system that goes one step further than yard management. It allows us to reduce costs drastically and offer more competitive prices. We have managed to revamp our procedures in classic services such as consolidation, bundling and secondary packaging solutions. For these services, we have long-term, well-established relationships with our oil and gas clients. Now we are looking to offer this solution to our non-oil and gas clients.
How has AMT evolved its personnel support services offering?
We developed new services to adapt our portfolio to the pandemic. We have invested in a guesthouse with 18 apartments where we provide an all-around service including food, catering, general cleaning and medical quarantine, certified by the Angolan Ministry of Health. We started providing this service as a medical quarantine setup during the pandemic. As our customers needed long-term rentals, we adapted. It has been very useful for most of our customers. It is an extension of our personnel support services, which include personnel rotation management, crew change, technical assistance, visas, transport, PCR tests and more.
What is AMT’s position within the Angolan logistics sector?
AMT has been active in Angola for 25 years now. Angola is now a regional management centre for AMT. We are absorbing some corporate and support functions from the HQ. From Angola, we are developing the business regionally, within neighbouring countries, using Angola’s position as a hub and a crossroads for many routes. This all implies major growth for the subsidiary. We plan scenarios for three, five and 10 years ahead. 25 years old, it’s the age of maturity, isn’t it?
What is AMT’s capacity with large-scale oil and gas companies?
We provide tailored solutions and integrated services from A to Z. We have a long list of records for large projects we managed in Angola over the last 25 years. From Cabinda in the north to Namibe in the far south, we offered our experience in numerous sites and remote locations. “A Matter of Trust” is our motto, and numerous customers trusted and still trust our experience in this challenging market.
How important was staff retention during the pandemic to retain critical know-how?
It’s the key to success to keep the people you trained and developed for years within your organisation. AMT really values its people. We have internal HR plans to develop talents and we invested in them. We have examples of Angolan colleagues reaching higher management positions and even send abroad to support and train other subsidiaries of our group.
We wanted to retain the knowledge and the expertise of our employees despite the turmoil of this pandemic, dismissing none of them. As a result, we managed to keep our Angola business working at full speed with all our people during this difficult time. And when the market increased its demand, we were ready and more operational than ever.
How will the new local content regulations affect activities across the oil and gas value chain?
With this decree, oil operators will be the first companies required to comply with local content, and that will cascade down to major EPC and fabrication contractors, then on services providers. We are prepared to be 100% local content-compliant. We have this experience in our branches in South Africa and Mozambique and already passed this step. Hence, we are committed to providing structured and developing training for our Angolan staff, not only internally but also with the support of recognised third-party providers and institutions.
What role do compliance, international audits and CSR standards play in a company’s competitiveness?
They play a major role as they are a must-have if we want to be qualified for all types of tenders.
We are audited every year and are up to all international standards. We are not the only company in the sector with this status, but in our niche market, there are only a few players offering this. At AMT Angola we offer the same ISO Standards, QHSE system, TRACE compliance and CSR standards as major multinational groups, but we also offer the tariff flexibility of a smaller company. Having all these conditions in place allows us to be positioned as the partner of choice.
CSR is a social responsibility each company should consider as a way to give back to society and thank customers and employees for their loyalty. For us at AMT, this comes in the form of projects, movements or empowerment of individuals. CSR plays a role in staff motivation and engagement. We have a strong commitment of our employees during Pink October and Blue November, and we noticed mentality changes thanks to the Women’s Days of March we have in place for five years now. We have brought in psychologists and doctors to shed light on issues affecting Angolan society and the workplace too.
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