GLS wins 25 year cargo concession in Liberia

Global Logistics Services Inc. (GLS) has secured a 25-year concession for air cargo operations at Liberia’s sole international airport, Roberts International (ROB).
The agreement, passed into law by the country’s legislature, makes GLS the first Liberian company to own an operating concession in the country’s 169-year history.
GLS, which currently handles up to 60% air cargo imports at ROB, said that it has “set a precedent” for public-private partnerships (PPP) in post-conflict Liberia.
The concession includes the design, build and operations of a new modern air cargo facility at ROB, due to open by July 2019, capable of handling over three times the current annual throughput, with improvements in operating systems and standards.
Total average annual throughput at the airport is currently about 4,000 tonnes, growing at an average of 6%-10% per annum.
GLS foresees an “immediate jump” of about 20% in recorded volumes once the new facility is developed. The company will also have better infrastructure and services to support the export supply chain, and it expects to see “a significant growth” in that area as well.
The concession will be managed by a joint venture company to be launched shortly in Monrovia, the Liberian capital.
GLS has confirmed that an international ground handling company has taken up equity in the joint venture company, and full details are expected to be announced in a few weeks.
Capital expenditure for the project is around $11m over the initial concession term, with primary investment in the design and build of the 2,700 sq m cargo facility.
The facility will also support special cargo handling for fresh foods and perishables, pharmaceuticals, valuables and vulnerable goods, dangerous goods, hazardous materials, and support the country’s valuable-minerals export trade.
The project concept was developed after a definitive feasibility study commissioned by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), with technical consultants CPCS Transcom, in association with Aviotec International.
DHL currently runs a weekly cargo flight into the airport, alongside international passenger airlines including SN Brussels, KLM, Kenya Airways and Air Maroc. Regional carriers include Air Cote d’Ivoire, Arik, and Medview Airlines.
The concession was welcomed by the nation which suffered decades of civil crises, leaving the country’s infrastructure in ruin.
GLS chief executive Peter Malcolm King has set the objectives of the concession to “help remove trade barriers by setting in place infrastructure required to enhance supply chain operations and improve Liberia’s potential as a hub in the Mano River sub-region”.
GLS has a freight forwarding/clearing partnership agreement with Swiss logistics giant Panalpina. GLS is partly owned by the IFC through its SME ventures fund – the West Africa Venture Fund (WAVF).  
The company has an operation in Sierra Leone and has “near term” expansion initiatives into Nigeria.

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