In a move that signals the growing importance of the Great Lakes region in shipping business, Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS), one of the world’s leading shipping agents, has opened a new office in Rwanda.
ISS’ new Kigali office will focus on liner agency and cargo services, according to a statement.
As a liner agency leading shipping lines, it will serve include Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and the Western European Company (WEC) Lines.
On the ISS’ decision to invest in Rwanda, the statement says: “Rwanda’s capital is only two to three hours from the markets of Southern Uganda, Eastern DRC, Western Tanzania and northern Burundi.”
This close proximity makes Rwanda an excellent choice as a location for business operations targeting these emerging markets.
The country is viewed as the most secure place in the region; internationally, it is hailed as the bedrock of good governance; corruption is negligible; and the crime rate is low while its leadership has firmly liberated it from the shackles of the 1994 Genocide nightmare.
ISS worldwide has a history that can be traced back to 1847 and has over 200 offices and a team of 2,200 professional staff.
The company is also one of the world’s largest independent marine management companies.
ISS is owned by Istithmar PJSC, a major investment house based in the United Arab Emirates, which acquired it from Electra in January 2006.
Liner agency has been at the core of the ISS business mix since ships started carrying containers in the 1950s.
The agency remains an important and growing part of the company’s product range and, with the container shipping market rising by 8-10 per cent per annum, and ISS continuing to win new agencies, it will continue to be an important overall contributor to ISS Group performance.
In 2007, ISS won the Zim Lines agency in Djibouti, an important transshipment hub for Zim; the Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) agency in Panama; and ISS Iraq has also won a couple of Liner agencies.
“We estimate that these lines between them will bring in excess of 50 000 additional TEUs to the Group in 2008 compared to 2007. We have also entered the liner agency market in Australasia through the acquisition of OMS which adds Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea to our network,” says the statement.
n a bid to strengthen its agency business ISS recently commissioned an outside consultant to carry out a market survey on the top 100 lines to establish their perception of ISS and understand the customer better in the sector.
The outcome of this exercise was very interesting with our principals measuring their agents on two key areas, local information and quality of service. We will continue to raise the bar in both these areas to keep ahead of the competition.
The survey also resulted in an overall positive impression of ISS, although a number of customers had heard of ISS but never been approached by us, so there is untapped potential out there for us to develop.
At the same time ISS has embarked on a programme to rationalise its IT systems and infrastructure. There was also a drive from the business for more services and applications such as enabling staff at large port complexes to be more mobile.
Alison Foulds, Director Global IT (Group Information Division) at ISS, says: “We wanted to use technology to improve the way we work and add value to the business, and make setting up and running our port located offices much more cost and resource efficient.”
ISS operates in a number of regions of the world where communication infrastructures are; in some cases bandwidth is as low as 128Kilobits per second. ISS has to circumvent these problems so staffs have the efficient support systems they need.