The impact of disruptions on mobility and supply chains

​The University of Johannesburg’s School of Management’s (SoM) Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management, in collaboration with Uber, hosted a webinar on the impact of disruptions on mobility and supply chains.

Discussant, Head of Department, Professor Noleen Pisa, spoke on the risks that arose from the disruptions of normal activities in mobility and supply chain.

“Mobility includes all movement of passengers and goods within an economy. Supply chain involves the different activities that are involved from the acquisition of raw materials, transportation, production up to the point where goods are made available to the consumer.”

She explained how the disruptions were categorised into supply shocks, demand shocks or distribution constraints.

“Disruptions cause discontinuation to the effective operations of the various supply chain activities. The cause of the disruptions vary and present risks to businesses. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in us experiencing the impact of Covid both to our mobility and to the access of goods and services.”

She highlighted factors like geopolitics, trade wars, political economics, border delays, power supply disruptions to technology impacted on supply chain.

“In the business context disruptions are interruptions to normal business operations that result in malfunction and disorder.”

Second discussant, Mr Ofentse Mokwena, Strategic Projects Lead for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, explained how any type of crisis takes the form of a virus, because it spreads in different ways to different parts of value chains.

He discussed how mobility changed during the lockdown. From retail experiencing growth in online delivery marketplaces and transactions to new markets experiencing rapid growth in convenience markets and increasing demand for value chain offerings that are closer to consumer demand.

Mr Mokwena, spoke on how ‘tactical urbanism’ had seen global growth while here in South Africa the activity was limited which highlighted the limited access to public space. He added that the ‘Human Cloud’ saw growth in virtual work, remote work and shifts in travel demand impacting on commodity markets.

Local mobility also saw a gradual growth in cycling, hiking and other non motorised mobility activity. Speaking about emerging trends for supply chains and mobility, Mr Mokwena said the pandemic came with inflationary risk for commodities.

“Now those commodities are contracting largely because households are partly moving back into their own routines. Traditional goods are now entering an upsurge, in the supply chain space where there’s upward pressure for traditional goods. We are seeing both these activities taking place at the same time for different commodities. There’s a rise in proximity to consumers – social media and other types of platforms are providing third party providers with better access to customers.”

Prof Pisa concluded by saying: “Lean supply chains are something that should pick up in Africa and developing countries where resources are scarce and limited and unemployment is rife. There’s ample opportunities for entrepreneurship to take advantage of these concepts and create new channels of job creation and service provision. This can go a long way in addressing socio economic challenges in developing countries.”

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