Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Hundreds of supply chain professionals from across Africa and around the world will gather in Cape Town in 10 days for the 44th annual SAPICS Conference. This year’s conference is a milestone one as it is the first in-person meeting of the African supply chain community since the start of the pandemic, according to organiser SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management.

It is also significant because in the wake of Covid-19 and other chaotic supply chain disruptions in recent years, there are so many lessons for the supply chain community to share and so much to catch up on, asserts MJ Schoemaker, president of not-for-profit organisation SAPICS.

“From a field that not many people understood or knew much about, supply chain management has become one of the most important professions in the world. During the pandemic and subsequent disruptions, everyone started talking about supply chains, recognising that they are more than just the logistics of moving goods from A to B. More people started to understand that virtually everything that we use or touch every day has reached us through supply chains – from the mobile phone in their pocket to the toilet paper in the bathroom; from their morning latte in a recyclable, eco-friendly cup to baby formula on the shelves and their asthma medication. Supply chains connect everything, and effective supply chain management has the power not just to ensure the smooth flow of goods and services from the point of origin to the point of consumption; but to save lives, to save the planet and ensure brighter futures for individuals, organisations and communities.”

The 2022 SAPICS Conference for supply chain professionals will offer an array of presentations covering diverse topics extending from artificial intelligence (AI) to human hair extensions. “This year’s packed programme covers subjects ranging from automation, blockchain, e-commerce, digitisation and machine learning, to beauty, border control, food security, pharmaceuticals, ship building, sustainability and vaccine distribution,” Schoemaker expands.

The annual SAPICS Conference is Africa’s leading knowledge sharing and networking event for supply chain professionals. It takes place from 12 to 15 June 2022 at Century City Conference Centre, Cape Town, South Africa.

The conference has always provided an unrivalled platform for the African supply chain community to discover, debate and evaluate the latest technology impacting supply chains, and this year is no different, Schoemaker notes. According to SAPICS 2022 opening keynote speaker Johan Steyn, AI may not replace humans, but it may replace supply chain managers who are not skilled in this technology. Steyn is a smart automation and AI thought leader and management consultant. He is the chair of the Special Interest Group on AI and Robotics with the IITPSA (Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa). He says that technological advancements will have a significant impact on supply chain management, with AI changing how tasks are autonomously delivered and controlled.

Lives depend on healthcare supply chains, but technology challenges abound in developing African countries, according to 2022 SAPICS Conference presenter David Crewe-Brown. He says that many African Ministries of Health are dependent on donor funded supply chain technology implementations that usually centre around Open Source technologies. He will examine these issues and share solutions to the problems in his 2022 SAPICS Conference presentation. Healthcare supply chains will also be discussed by presenter Alvaro Lopes, who, over the last 10 years, has been designing and implementing supply chain solutions to support the Ministry of Health in Mozambique to resolve supply issues at the last mile.

Insights on how blockchain is transforming Africa’s USD7 billion hair extensions sector and its power to repair the continent’s broken and fragmented supply chains will be shared by 2022 SAPICS Conference speaker Shadrack Kubyane, who is known as Africa’s blockchain baron. The COVID-19 crisis fuelled unprecedented growth in e-commerce. The question of whether traditional retailers can compete with pure-play retailers will be discussed in a presentation by Jan Tukker

The war in Ukraine has put the spotlight on the important work of the United Nations (UN). The UN Secretariat purchases approximately USD2.7 billion worth of goods and services annually. The scope and magnitude of the organisation’s procurement and supply chain management operations will be discussed at the 2022 SAPICS Conference by experts from the UN headquarters in New York and the UN Global Service Centre (UNGSC) in Brindisi, Italy.

Supply chain disruptions and building supply chain resilience will be explored in the presentation by Brian Chikwava, supply chain researcher at Victoria University Business & Law School in Australia.

“Now more than ever, supply chain professionals need to rally together, learn from each other and embrace new technologies to prevent shortages and life-threatening delays in the provision of medications,” concludes Shoemaker.

MJ Schoemaker, president of not-for-profit organisation SAPICS