Around the world, the concept of sustainable transport has evolved to take a variety of forms, encompassing anything from the transformation of fuel technology to increasing efforts to carpool.
However, whatever form it comes in, the term is not often associated with the African continent.
Often suffering from high rates of congestion and a lack of energy efficient vehicles, combined with outdated road safety practices that generally lag behind other parts of the world, addressing these problems is proving to be an increasingly large headache across the continent.
Earlier this year, United Nations Environment hosted the Africa Clean Mobility Week that saw representatives from 42 African countries converge in Nairobi to further these discussions. However, whilst national governments and leading international bodies are expected to play their part in tackling the problem, African businesses must equally take greater responsibility.
“In Kenya and East Africa, sustainable transport is still in its infancy,” says Tamara Nerima, Marketing Communications Director of Scania East Africa – one company that is taking this responsibility in its stride.
A truck specialist that provides fleet management and maintenance and repair contracts, the firm has continued to grow over the years, now operating branches across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with its market share standing at roughly 25 percent.
Having previously spoken to Africa Outlook in December 2017, the past year has seen the Company placing significant emphasis on furthering the discussion of sustainable transport.
“A big part of our agenda has been to introduce the concept of sustainable transport to our industry,” states Nerima.
“In the aim of raising the bar, we have been working tirelessly to raise awareness and broaden the concept of exactly what sustainable transport is in the hope that we will see greater levels of engagement. This has encompassed providing sustainable transport solutions as well as encouraging sustainable business practices.”
In line with this, the firm is an active member of the UN Global Compact having pledged to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies throughout its entire portfolio.
Changing the face of transport
These attitudes have manifested themselves in all parts of the Company’s operations, something that is evident in its recent investment strategies.
“We have recently commissioned the building of a new facility on the outskirts of Nairobi that will be created in line with our commitment to sustainability,” says Nerima. “For example, we will install and utilise solar panels as our main power source, operate a custom-built oil disposal system and implement other ergonomics in and around the facility.”
Fully on track with its sustainability goals, Scania is equally looking to collaborate with the Kenyan government in the aim of providing sustainable solutions for the planned launch of the new national bus rapid transit system (BRT).
This is a proven area of success for the Company, having rolled out a BRT system in Accra, Ghana, with 245 connected buses operating in their own dedicated lanes.
In the case of the Accra BRT, the public transport network was able to effectively diminish pollution throughout the city, simultaneously reducing the number of vehicles travelling on the roads and implementing more efficient buses.
“We have years of experience in planning BRT systems as well as providing buses for such systems, and it is our hope that we can work collaboratively with the government on this,” states Nerima.
Equally, driven by its intensive research and development programmes, Scania continues to develop new technologies in order to address the rising global demands for more effective solutions.
Such is evident in the Company’s fleet management system, used by its customers to analyse anything from general driver behaviour to the troubleshooting of faults in vehicles, pre-emptively preventing minor issues from developing into major problems.
“We place a lot of emphasis on our technologies like the fleet management system,” Nerima says. “We pride ourselves on this technology because it is more than just a location tool. By providing an overview, we make sure our customers have more uptime on the road and lose less hours fixing faults.”
As an innovator of the automotive solutions industry, transformation is a major part of Scania’s operations, materialising in a number of different ways.
In 2011, for example, the firm made it standard practice to equip all vehicles with its on-board communications computer. Using real time data, Scania leveraged this to develop Scania Maintenance – a flexible service that has helped lower fuel consumption and maximise vehicle uptime.
On November 1, the firm also launched its new truck generation in Kenya and introduced the Euro 5 engine into the local market. For a market that is accustomed to Euro 0 to Euro 3 engines, the introduction of the Euro 5 engine by Scania shows its commitment in ensuring the reduction of emission levels in the country.
The launch also provided an opportunity for various industry stakeholders to engage in a panel discussion around sustainable transport in the region and how to best push forward this agenda.
Our customers’ total operating economy is improved by a fuel consumption that is on average up to five percent lower than before, due to improved powertrains and better aerodynamics,” explains Nerima. “For the new truck range Scania also developed application-focused products that are more efficient and thus perform better with lower environmental impact.”
What’s more, the Company takes this a step further by offering driver training and coaching to drivers. As a result, customers have been able to see tangible results in improved driver habits, a noted increase in fuel efficiency, less accidents on the road and an improvement in uptime.
“We are different because of an offering that we call our total operating economy,” Nerima continues. “Our service does not end at the point of sale. We provide continuous service to our customers, ensuring that we are always in touch and have open lines of communication.”
Scania’s transformative approach is additionally reflected in the firm’s electrification roadmap, a strategy that has led to dedicated research across a number of segments, from the development of bio-fuelled hybrid vehicles to hydrogen fuel cells to electric vehicles.
Leveraging its industry leading innovation and can-do approach in tackling some of the major challenges facing East Africa’s transportation sector, Scania East Africa will continue to maintain a similar ethos moving forward.
Nerima concludes: “We will continue focusing on sustainability. Not just sustainability in the traditional sense of cleaning up the environment and planting trees, but more in the sense of our business practices from our staff to sourcing of raw materials to waste management and right up to research and development.
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Eddie Clinton
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