Mr. Marc Hassler
Manager General Cargo Traffic Africa
When was Spedag Interfreight established and who are the owners?
Spedag Interfreight belongs to the M+R Spedag Group. Hansruedi Richner and Rodger Metzger founded Metzger + Richner Transport AG in 1952 in Basel, Switzerland. By the mid-1970s, the company had employed around 150 people with offices in Basel, Schaffhausen, Zurich and Geneva. Initially, the young company concentrated on road freight with efficient customs clearance between Germany and Switzerland and gradually expanded its range of services to the whole of Europe. In 1979, Metzger + Richner Transport AG took over Spedag Speditions AG which was founded 1928 in Basel. The strengths of Spedag Speditions AG were their overseas business and their office in South Africa. From then on, the company operated under the Name of M+R Spedag Group. M+R Spedag Group is a family company, owned Mr Daniel Richner.
Spedag Interfreight was established in 2011 by the takeover of Interfreight (est. 1968) from the former Spedag East Africa (est. 1998) which was a daughter company to M+R Spedag Group.
You are based in Switzerland, but you’ve stated that you are active in Africa. Can you tell us more?
The Head office of the M+R Spedag Group, as well as Spedag Interfreight, is in Muttenz, Switzerland. Spedag Interfreight is the Africa Division of M+R Spedag Group. The Swiss office here takes care of all business with international relation. However, I and my other team members have local experience as we have been working for some years for the company in East Africa.
Where in Africa do you have your own offices located? Tell us about the major problems/challenges that you face with logistics in parts of Africa?
We have offices in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC, South Sudan and South Africa (operated under the Name Spedag South Africa).
The biggest challenge of working in East Africa is that a lot of it still lacks quality infrastructure. The government can make changes that hugely affect logistics at any time, with no ample time to prepare yourself properly for the new situation. That means you must stay highly flexible to be able to react to whatever changes may come, to serve your clients with the best service possible.
There is a lot of talk nowadays about Africa being the last undeveloped continent for logistics. What is your view on this?
Undeveloped is a big term to throw around and I would say that, while this is certainly the case in some regions of Africa, I wouldn’t call East Africa undeveloped. Yes, you can’t reach out to every place easily, as road conditions are sometimes rough. However, in general, there has been a lot of investment into infrastructure in East Africa in recent years, which has led to great improvements on the hinterland connections.
Can you provide us with some examples of projects that you have handled recently?
Rusumo Project Rwanda
300 x 40’HC / OT + 7500 Frt Breakbulk
Suswa Project Kenya
21000 Frt Transformers and Accessories
Brewery Extension Project Rwanda
4000 Frt Brewery Equipment
Customs clearance is a big thing in Africa, I believe. I recently attended a conference in Cape Town and was told that work is well underway to create a uniform customs system like that of the E.U. What is your comment on this, and could you elaborate on the progress of that?
The Africa-wide union they are planning will most likely still take quite some time, as there are huge gaps in the various interests of the countries involved here. In East Africa, there already exists a customs union between Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi. However, amongst these countries, there are still issues and disagreements, even though they already have a customs union.
What’s your favourite country in Africa and why?
My favourite country is Uganda, simply because I lived there for two years, while working for the company. I had a lot of time besides work to explore this beautiful country, with all the landscapes and the vast number of different animals. Also, the people there are very friendly and helpful.
How can our readers reach you?