Mr. Christian Fazekas
Regional Manager East Africa
First of all, Christian, tell us a bit about your own logistics career leading up to your stationing now in Kenya.
My journey in Logistics started 33 years ago in Austria and did a stopover at the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City 2002. It continued to the Middle East (Dubai) for 10 years where I had already been in charge of East Africa for a few years. Due to the fact that my wife is Kenyan and Hillebrand needed some groundwork to do in East Africa, it was a good mix for both parties. We service 13 countries in East Africa, and apart from alcohol, we have quite a unique product with our self-produced Flexitanks which can carry up to 24,000 liters of bulk liquid in a standard 20’ Container.
Tell us about how life is in Nairobi and tell us about logistics in Kenya in general. Is it difficult?
As always, there are good and not so good parts about life anywhere, but it’s quite amazing living next to the Nairobi National Park, and looking—thanks to COVID-19 and working from my home office—directly into the park from my balcony during “office hours”.
Logistics, in general, is not rocket science, but the problem comes in when there are several government offices involved in the importing of containers, and it’s not streamlined. Even if, theoretically, everything is online, there is still the need to run around with physical papers and stamps & seals. I think over time we are getting there. The goal for well-organized businesses to flourish because, if bureaucracy kicks in too much, it can kill businesses unnecessarily.
What is the main line of business for Hillebrand? If memory serves me right, then you are heavily involved in “liquid” logistics?
In short, our niche has been Food & Beverage for 175 years, with a strong focus on alcoholic beverages and bulk liquids in FlexiTanks.
Although it is technically not project or heavy cargo, there are still special rules governing these kinds of transports, right? Elaborate if you can a bit further,please.
Yes, as you can imagine, alcohol is a special topic everywhere. It needs special care and has lots of restrictions. As a result, not everyone can import these items. Wine, for example, does not need to be transported in a reefer container. However, temperature spikes can kill the taste of wine and reduce the quality. We produce Vinliners which protect the cargo from temperature spikes. Apart from that, we have weather statistics from which we know the average temperatures during the past years. For example, if we bring a container of French wine to Kenya in April, we have an idea of the average temperatures during April over the past few years. So, we can decide if a Vinliner is good enough to protect the cargo or if we need a Reefer.
How about customs clearance in Kenya. Is that difficult?
It is not an easy task, and we start 10 days before the container hits the Mombasa port in order to have all the documents lined up and all pre-approvals in hand. In general, in our industry, we can avoid 80% of the headaches when we pre-plan properly what we do. If the importer here is an Authorized Economic Operator, it “fast forwards” the process, and we get into the “green channel” and can clear everything much faster.
Tell us about the main ports of the country.
In our region, we have Djibouti which serves as a port for Djibouti & Ethiopia.
Mombasa would be the port serving Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, & DRC Congo.
The Dar Es Salaam port is best for Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.
Please let people know how to reach you.
They can be in touch as follows:
firstname.lastname@example.org / +34734972758 on WhatsApp / LinkedIn