Google gets stake in African e-logistics firm Lori Systems


US Internet giant Google has acquired a stake in East African e-logistics company Lori Systems for an undisclosed sum.

The investment forms part of Google’s US$50 million African Investment Fund earmarked for the continent this year.

Lori Sytems, which is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and founded in 2017, helps digitise haulage and provides shippers with solutions to manage their cargo and transporters electronically.

“This new investment is the third from Google’s US$50-million Africa Investment Fund, which CEO Sundar Pichai announced in October 2021,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The size of the stake was also not disclosed.

“It comes off the back of the launch of Google’s first product development centre on the continent, in Nairobi, the city where Lori Systems first launched.”

Quoting a report by Knight Frank, Google said that, on average, 75% of the price of the product sold in Africa is attributed to logistics costs, compared to just 6% in the US.

“On the continent, logistics operators face a host of problems, from fragmented supply and demand markets to inconsistent pricing, paper documentation and little or no access to financing. Lori Systems lowers the cost of goods by eliminating pain points along the cargo journey – seamlessly connecting shippers to transportation, providing shippers with solutions to efficiently manage their cargo and transporters, and digitising their entire transport operations from sourcing transportation to documentation and payments.”

Lori System co-founder and chief product officer Jean-Claude Homawoo said the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement is expected to lead to a big increase in intra-African trade in the coming years, providing a “US$21.9-billion opportunity in untapped trade potential that the 54 ratifying countries are hoping to capitalise on over the next five years. Logistics is key to unlocking this opportunity.”

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