And Africa Co., Ltd. is pleased to announce that Mr. Yorihiko Kato has been newly appointed as an outside director of the company as of April 1, 2021.
Mr. Yorihiko Kato is an entrepreneur based in Osaka and Singapore who has managed several companies, including Maruichi Group, which operates a hairdressing and beauty scissors business and a mesenchymal stem cell infusion business, and LENSMODE, Asia's No. 1 cross-border contact lens e-commerce company. He is also an angel investor in over 80 Japanese startups in Japan and overseas.
《Brief biography of Mr. Yorihiko Kato》
Entrepreneur and president of the Maruichi Group. Born in Osaka in 1967.
While a student at Kansai Gakuin University, he participated in the establishment of Ryoma and Dial Q Network.
In 1992, he founded Niko Corporation LTD (Currently GMO NIKKO Corporation).
Established LENS MODE PTE. LTD., A cross-border EC for contact lenses in 2003.
In 2008, Nikko became part of his GMO Internet Group, and then retired and moved to Singapore. In the same year, he co-founded Pan Asia Partners PTE.LTD. (Currently Asia Africa Investment & Consulting).
He became a permanent resident of Singapore in 2010.
Since 1997, he has angel invested in over 80 Japanese startups in Japan and abroad. His current investor portfolio includes KAMARQ, Bitbank, VoiStock, Kintaro Cells Power, AGRIBUDDY, and Hironobuto etc.
Please refer to the following link for details of the investment portfolio, etc.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Yorihiko Kato as an outside director of our company.
Mr. Yorihiko Kato is a highly experienced businessperson and investor.
In particular, he is one of the few Japanese entrepreneurs who has successfully led overseas businesses from start-up to success, and we believe that he is one of the few Japanese mentors who can steadily acquire end users in overseas markets.
In addition, he is capable of dealing with a wide range of topics related to start-up businesses and is willing to share his knowledge.
We are very honored to have Mr. Kato, who has such an excellent track record, knowledge and mentorship, join us.
We will continue our efforts to contribute to the economy and society of Africa and Japan, as well as to our shareholders’ benefits. Thank you very much for your support.
And Africa Co., Ltd. has raised seed capital through a third-party allocation of new shares from private investors and subsidies. With this financing, we strengthen our product development and operation in South Africa to accelerate our business growth.
In South Africa and other African countries, the cost of last mile delivery is extremely high due to inefficient delivery functioning and performance, and at the same time, the occurrence of redelivery is considered a recurring problem. In order to contribute to solving these issues we are providing ECD (Easy Collect & Drop), a delivery service using smart lockers, in South Africa. Through the smart lockers, users can send, receive, and store parcels, as well as receive and return items purchased through our partner e-commerce sites.
The lockers are currently installed two large shopping malls in the center of Johannesburg, and will be expanded to other locations such as gated estates and petrol stations, as well as accelerating collaboration with local e-commerce companies. Furthermore, through the introduction of the locker franchise model, we will continue to create gig work opportunities in the local market and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases by improving delivery efficiency and preventing redelivery.
Based on the belief that new industries can be created in Africa by utilizing hardware technology from Japan and other Asian countries, we have been promoting collaboration between Africa and Japan through technology and investment. However, in the process, we have faced many difficulties in taking the first step and creating a successful example. In Africa, where e-commerce growth faces many challenges in terms of last-mile logistics, we have launched ECD to take the lead in taking full advantage of the hardware-technological superiority of Smart Locker that we can see in many Asian countries.
ECD minimizes the risk of Covid-19 by minimizing human intervention when sending and receiving parcels. It also creates a lot of gig work through the provision of on-demand delivery opportunities and a locker franchise model. Additionally, by eliminating redelivery, it helps reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, by using ECD, consumers do not have to wait for their parcels at home and can enjoy the most affordable delivery services.
We will continue our efforts to contribute to the transformation of last-mile logistics in Africa.
Thank you very much for your continued support.
In a bid to provide a viable solution to the major challenges associated with last-mile logistics in Africa, And Africa LLC launched a pilot of ECD (Easy Collect & Drop) last-mile delivery service in South Africa. ECD uses smart locker technology that enables users to conveniently send, receive, and store parcels any time of the day or week.
The first set of ECD lockers was installed at two major shopping centres located in the heart of Johannesburg, Sandton, namely Dainfern Square and Pineslopes Boulevard. More ECD lockers will be installed in major residential estates, apartment complexes, and petrol stations in Johannesburg and Pretoria within the coming months. To offer the best delivery service to all its customers and improve their accessibility to end-to-end delivery, ECD is now available nationwide. Customers can send parcels from Gauteng to any other province in South Africa
Customers choose the nearest ECD locker to them, drop off their parcel and have it delivered to any address within the country. Customers are offered more flexibility to choose when to do their deliveries, be it after work, before a morning workout, or while doing their grocery shopping.
The service gives both sender and receiver the option to drop off and collect the parcel from the closest ECD locker to them, thus reducing any waiting time for courier service to reach the receiver’s address.
Online Purchase Delivery:
This option provides online shoppers with flexible delivery of their purchases from ECD’s retail partners since they could assign the nearest ECD locker to the customer and reduce re-delivery costs thanks to the 48 hours pick-up window of their purchases.
This function was tailored for customers who want to store parcels or baggage for a certain period (up to 24 hours). This service can come in handy for day travellers who want to explore the city hands free, or shoppers who don’t want to struggle with their many purchases for the whole trip, or any person who prefers to keep their items stored safely.
*Note: Locker-to-Door, Locker-to-Locker and Storage Locker services are all made available through the ECD web app and mobile app (iOS and Android compatible). The Online Purchase Delivery service is available directly through participating ecommerce websites as a delivery option.
The Challenges of Last-Mile Delivery in Africa
One of the biggest challenges facing last-mile delivery in Africa and the world is the re-delivery issue that results in additional costs. Many courier companies started then providing on-demand delivery service, however additional issues came up in the Africa context due to high traffic congestion, unclear addresses (more specifically in rural areas), poor or undeveloped road infrastructure, and scattered delivery destinations, which would contribute to the courier’s inability to provide timely delivery leading to long waiting times for customers.
ECD comes as an innovative and viable solution for both courier companies and customers. Couriers can avoid re-deliveries by dropping off parcels in ECD lockers whilst customers are given 48 hours to collect their parcel once it’s delivered.
The last-mile delivery is also expected to adapt to unforeseen situations such as COVID-19 that enforced the concept of social distancing. With the increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections in South Africa and the difficulty to procure vaccines, ECD is the preferred delivery option thanks to its ability to facilitate the delivery of parcels without the need for human contact.
Future Prospects for Africa’s Logistics Market
The market size of the logistics industry across the African continent is $355 billion (2018) and the last-mile market witnessed a growth estimated at $27.2 billion (2018), which can be mainly attributed to rapid digitalisation observed over recent years. Rapid digitalisation has in turn driven the increase in the use of e-commerce in the continent with the total number of online shoppers growing at an annual rate of 18%. The e-commerce market size in Africa reached $27.6 billion (2019).
All of these indicators point to the fact that ECD has been established and launched at the right time and that Africa is ready to embrace and welcome technology.
We have been promoting cooperation between Africa and Japan through technology transfer and encouraging investment. We believe that utilising the technological capabilities of Japan can create a differentiating factor in business development in Africa. In Africa, where e-commerce growth faces many challenges in terms of last-mile logistics, we set up ECD to offer a better last-mile delivery service.
ECD can minimise the Covid-19 risk by mitigating human intervention when receiving/sending your parcel. And it creates many gig work opportunities through our on-demand logistics and locker franchise models. Besides, ECD contributes to reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating re-delivery. Finally, ECD frees you from waiting for parcels at home and provides the most reasonable delivery service.
Thus, I am confident that ECD will be one of the demanded solutions in Africa. We will do our best to contribute to the reform of last-mile logistics in Africa.