Mr. Peer Rommelhoff
Could you elaborate a bit about the history and ownership of Alpha Projects & Logistics?
First of all, here is my CV to give you an idea of my background:
|1985-1987||Apprentice + water clerk||Liner agency – Lehman Junior, Copenhagen, DK||Worked for NYK, ABC, DSR, Alianca|
|1988||Operator + water clerk||Topgallant (previously US Lines), New York, USA|
|1989-1992||Project forwarder||Intergroup, Copenhagen, DK|
|1993-1994||Terminal worker||DFDS, Brondby, DK||Loading / offloading trailers, etc.|
|1994||Project forwarder then GM||Lysander Shipping, London, UK|
|1999||MD||Lysander Shipping, London, UK||Opened Copenhagen office|
|2006||MD||Lysander Shipping, London, UK||Moved to Italy and opened Genoa office|
|2008||Owner||Alpha Projects & Logistics, Genoa, IT||Company established|
|2009||Owner||Alpha Projects & Logistics, Denmark||Office established|
|2011||Owner||Moved to Denmark|
|2013||Owner||ALPHA Projects & Logistics, Rotterdam, Netherlands||Office established|
|2016||Owner||ALPHA Projects & Logistics, Dubai, UAE||Office established|
|2018||Owner||ALPHA Projects & Logistics, Gaborone, Botswana||Office established|
|2019||Owner||ALPHA Projects & Logistics, Walvis Bay, Namibia||Office established|
I have worked in the shipping industry since 1985. This year, in August, it will have been for 35 years, with 30 years in project forwarding. I have seen quite a development in the shipping industry coming from telex and typewriter to now……
I am the owner of ALPHA Projects & Logistics. To recap the timing in the table above, we began in Italy in 2008. Then we established our headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. Further offices followed thusly: Netherlands 2013, UAE 2016, Botswana 2018 and Namibia 2019.
We have three offices in Europe strategically located. One, in Genoa, Italy, is the busiest port in Italy and the Mediterranean sea. It is from Italy that we ship most of the construction materials for our customers such as many EPC projects. Another office in is Rotterdam—the busiest port on the northwest continent and a perfect position for many breakbulk shipments from Antwerp as well. The last office in Europe is in Copenhagen, taking care of the nordic countries and the Baltic Sea.
Since our start, we have performed many shipments to project sites in the Middle East. Therefore, it was natural for us to establish an office in Dubai to be closer to the market and local region.
We have always had the dream to establish offices in Africa. We have chosen the southern African region. We believe in years to come, there will be many projects to develop in the region. At the same time, the region must protect their treasures, like the fantastic people, culture, nature, and wildlife.
We believe that we have much to offer. For example, our experience, knowledge, and skills in project forwarding as well as our 1st class customer service. We spend a lot of effort developing manpower, keeping our service at the highest level, and continuously improving our ALPHA team.
At the same time, our vision is to teach and share our skills, experience, and knowledge with the local ALPHA team and market. We have constructed our own ALPHA, two-year trainee program. Each trainee will enter this program which includes a mentor from our European office.
I understand from the market that you are active in Africa. Is there a specific reason for that, and how do you find it working actively in the African market which many say is the “final frontier” to be developed?
We believe that in years to come, the region will be developed, and therefore, reliable and skillful manpower with great experience and knowledge will be required.
We put a lot of effort into the education of our local manpower, and we have made our own two-year, ALPHA education program for trainees. This is all part of developing our presence in the region with a huge respect of the people and culture.
We have chosen Botswana and Namibia as we see Walvis Bay as a good alternative for transshipping cargo to Durban. We see a lot of uncertainty in the delivery time via Durban due to congestion in the port and heavy delays by rail.
Walvis Bay is smoother with no congestion. It is well-positioned for easy delivery to Southern Angola. When the current bridge projects in Botswana (Okavango River Bridge and Kanzungula Bridge project from Botswana to Zambia) will be completed, it will create a smooth and fast gateway to other African countries like Zambia, South Western DRCongo, and Zimbabwe.
Could you provide our readers with some examples of project cargoes that you have handled?
We coordinated the transport of construction materials to the Okavango River Bridge. This included transport from Walvis Bay to the jobsite in Botswana and discharging the charter vessel to the delivered FOT job site.
There were total transport weights of more than 12000 cbm and it is still ongoing. We had units with a weight of up to 76000 kg where special agreements and reconstruction of the border crossing had to be done in order for the units to cross the Okavango River by river barge. See the following video for more information.
Are you currently a member of any international networks, and do you find it useful to be part of such networks?
Yes, we have been members of GPLN for a number of years where we have met many good partners. A network can be good if members give fellow members a chance to quote for their business and give frank feedback (whether the price or service did / or did not secure the business with a constructive reason). We are very happy to have the chance to be a part of the CLC Projects Network and explore the opportunities. We look forward to mutually supporting each other in the network for successful business hopefully.
Has the COVID-19 situation affected your business overall? What is your recipe for coping?
Yes, we have been affected by COVID-19. Botswana and Namibia have had a lockdown for more than 2 months and are still suffering from this lockdown even in June. Many factories have been closed in Italy and other European countries, and therefore, materials have not been shipped as production has been on hold.
Our overseas EPC customers that purchase from European companies have, in some cases, cancelled orders due to uncertainty in delivery of materials to their overseas job site. The job sites have been ongoing in the Middle East, the Far East and Africa. Materials had to be supplied to job sites (when you have 3-5000 workers and a serious time frame) or the project would be delayed with huge penalties as a consequence. Therefore, we see materials being purchased in other places of the world as a solution. This can have a negative impact on manufacturers in Europe and the related transportation. At the same time, it can be crucial for these manufacturers as the EPC companies might have found new suppliers who they will use in the future as well. No-one knows yet the impact of COVID-19. It will take more time, and perhaps, we will know in 4Q this year. Changes will for sure have happened, and we must adapt.
We do not believe that we will get back to a situation like before COVID-19. Perhaps, this will be for the better. We know that we must adapt to the new market, and we will. We seek new opportunities and are focusing more on the African market. At the same time, we have just become members of the CLC Project Network. We look very much forward to working with these members and will do our very best to develop business together.
How do you view the future logistics-wise in the part of Africa where you are currently active?
We see a huge potential in Namibia and Botswana with stable governments that steadily will develop their countries. We see the potential for a new gateway into Africa from Walvis Bay. There is no congestion in Walvis Bay, and customs formalities / transit formalities are quite fast.
For years, the gateway has been through Durban. However, we know from many customers that the uncertainty in delivery dates is a huge problem. There have been huge delays on the rail connections due to lack of capacity and congestion in the port.
With the current constructions of the Okavango River Bridge and the Kazungula Bridge over Zambezi river from Botswana to Zambia, Walvis Bay will be a great alternative as a discharging port to Durban. Currently, you can have queues of trucks of 15-20km waiting for the river ferry to cross the Zambezi River from Botswana to Zambia. The completion of the new bridges will have a huge positive impact on the transit time for inland deliveries in Botswana, Zambia, DRCongo, and Zimbabwe. We are very positive for the future and hope that COVID-19 will soon be under control in this region.
How would it be best for people to get in touch with you?