Mr. Thomas Vestergaard
We have interviewed Tschudi Logistics Group before (here and here), but this time we are talking about Africa. What made you look into opening an office in Africa in the first place? Which location did you choose and why?
At Tschudi Logistics, we always try to stay on top of our game. We have followed the development in Mozambique for many years, and last year, we decided that the timing was right to open a physical office in Maputo. Since we have conducted many projects in southern African countries, we already have great local relations. Among others, we are tightly connected with Energy Works in Maputo.
Maputo is the capital of Mozambique but also the hub for white collar business. The main airport is also located here, which means that this is the city to which expats and other international stakeholders most often fly. While most offices are located in Maputo, a lot of the hands-on work takes place in Nacala and Palma as Areas 1 and 4 are located in the northern part of the country. I believe that these cities will attract more people in the future, as the infrastructure is continuously developing, and the newly renovated airport in Nacala is ready to take on a large group of people.
Was it difficult to find the right staff to man your office? How did you go about it because it’s a frequent problem I hear not only in Europe but also in Africa—lots of people but still difficult to find the right ones.
At Tschudi, we have a mantra saying that “you can shape your own job and career, if you work for it.” To me, what matters is finding people with the right mindset. Employees with the right mindset and engagement can learn as we go and grow with the tasks they are given. Further, a great personality and skills to meet and engage with new people is essential—especially in Mozambique. Here close relations with business partners and clients are important. For this reason, our business cannot be run from our offices in Europe. We must be present, show up to events, and take part in meetings face to face. To ensure that we do so, I have spent most of my time in Mozambique since we opened the office last year.
We are creating a team with a mix of locals and expats. I believe that this will give a beneficial dynamic working environment as we can draw on each other’s knowledge. My experience is that the locals are extremely important to understand the nuances of the local culture—nuances that can benefit our negotiation skills and handling of challenges when they arise. On the other hand, having expats will help us enforce and guarantee that we live up to the standards we are known for in Europe and Asia.
How do you see Mozambique as a market overall? It is a big country, with lots of resources, but it also has transshipment possibilities. Does your office intend to get involved in all kinds of project forwarding or will you stick to a few selected areas?
I have worked on several projects in Africa throughout the years. I believe that the key to success is finding the balance between local adaptation and global complexity. In Africa, it is essential to be able to navigate risk in order to explore opportunities—something we have done for many years.
Tschudi Mozambique offers all kinds of project forwarding, purchasing services, and a local workforce in relation to ship management, Offshore & Towage, Ship-to-ship LNG. We benefit from being in a tight-knit group, so we can draw on know-how and resources from the eight other Tschudi companies.
Which container ship owners have you found have the best quality of service to/from Mozambique?
Currently, we do not focus that much on containers, however, we see that both MSC and CMACGM are strong, and CMGCGM also offers inland services. We have a tight relationship with Augustea Maritime Transportation in Mozambique. In partnership with them, we are representatives for a total of three barges and tugs. The carriers are: AMT Venturer, 17,400 DWT deck cargo barge and AMT Carrier, 9.025 DWT submersible/deck cargo barge. The tug is: Mythos, ocean going tug, multipurpose field support vessel 4,00 BHP class.
Have you done some projects there already, and if so could you share some pictures with us? Even if not, as your office is relatively new, could you share some pictures from the ports etc. with our readers?
Currently, we are mainly involved in smaller transports of construction equipment and material. However, the tender process for large gas projects is really picking up the pace, and contracts are even getting awarded. With such huge projects both on- and offshore, there will be a great need for logistics services. We, therefore, not only see ourselves as a door-to-door forwarder, but also as a supporter for other forwarders and owners who are not physically present in Mozambique.
We will soon be able to offer agency services along the coast and not only as today in Maputo.
What is your own impression of the country when you visit there? Which route do you normally take when flying there from North Europe?
Mozambique is currently the 10th poorest country in the world, but it has also been mapped out to become one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. It is definitely clear that the country is under development with the finalization of Areas 1 and 4 constantly moving closer.
Doing business in Mozambique can be challenging at first. I have experienced a lax attitude to time, which can be frustrating as sticking to deadlines is crucial in an industry like ours. To me, that makes it very important to focus on our business culture and our way of working at Tschudi. By doing that, we do our best to uphold the same standard in all the countries we are based. Other than that, Mozambicans are, in my experience, both hardworking and motivated.
I often use the TAP connection via Portugal directly to Maputo or Lufthansa via Johannesburg. The visa process can take some time, but I still recommend travelers to search same upon arrival, it is easy and cheaper. If any require advice or even a form to prefill, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Tschudi Logistics Group is active in all the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and now Mozambique. Are you in a further expansionist mode this year?
We have big plans for our office here in Maputo. The development of Areas 1 and 4 (the two offshore fields where natural gas has been discovered) is moving fast, and this means that related areas such as infrastructure and construction for both onshore and offshore will commence soon. We must be ready to offer potential clients logistics solutions, and therefore, we are currently extending our team.
In Europe, we are still experiencing a lot of activity. Our office in Rotterdam reopened a year ago and is already operating with great success. We still do a lot of projects which pass through eastern Europe and the CIS countries, and in relation to this, we have decided to open a new office in Poland. We expect the opening to happen within the next couple of months, and we are looking forward to adding yet another location to our far-reaching offices still this year.
How is it possible to reach you?
Here are my contact details:
Thomas Vestergaard, Managing Director, Tschudi Mozambique
+45 88 44 82 01
+45 21 73 37 73
+258 84 824 6588