Shipping & Logistics

Company eyes logistics sector with cargo clearance software

A Mombasa-based software developer has launched an online system for importers, transporters and clearing and forwarding agents, to facilitate clearance of cargo at Mombasa port.

Cybermonk Software Development Limited has designed clearing and forwarding professional (C&F PRO) as it seeks to cash in on industry players’ concern over delays of cargo clearance.

According to the firm’s director, Michael Mulela, the system enables clearing and forwarding agents to input and track consignment data as well as the Bill of Lading.

Through the system, agents can organise clients, consignees, shipping lines, transporters and their fleet in their database.

Users can access vessel schedule reports and automatically update estimated time of arrival, the date the vessels is expected at the berth and the last container dispatch date for all consignments in the system and compute remaining days to demurrage.

According to Mr Mulela, who is the lead developer, the firm has already set up an interface for insurers to provide their marine insurance products in readiness for the new requirement that importers should procure insurance locally.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has been tasked by the Treasury to implement section 20 of the Insurance Act that require importers buy insurance locally starting January.

The system’s marine insurance interface also features a Cost Insurance Freight (CIF) calculator that computes the CIF values in comparison to Free on Board (FOB) for the selected insurer. Importers have been using CIF, meaning that premiums are paid to a foreign firm instead of FOB that allows local payment of premiums.

“Companies will now be able to enter their marine insurance products and rates and adjust them whenever necessary. They will provide a brief description of their product and link to the relevant page on their website,” Mr Mulela said.

This is the first local software developed by the private sector seeking to promote efficiency and reduce delays in the clearing and freight forwarding and logistics sector. It is expected to complement other systems in the logistics sector.

It was developed in collaboration with clearing and freight forwarding market leaders such as DHL Global Forwarding, IMA Kenya, Skyman Freighters and Bonfide C&F Limited (now Bonfide Group) among others, according to Mr Mulela.

He said the system is affordable. For instance, while a company gets access at a subscription fee of Sh1,500 per month, an importer is able to access the system for a monthly fee of Sh350.

“A key feature of the system is the Action Centre, a central dashboard that provides snapshot of the entire freight forwarding operations at a glance providing notifications, alerts and recommended courses of action which goes a long way to simplify freight forwarding operations,” added Mr Mulela.

Development of the system was half-funded by the Logistics Innovation for Trade (LIFT), a new development finance instrument that provides grants for innovative business projects proposed by the private sector operating in the transport and logistics sector of the East African Community.

The LIFT utilises finances provided by TradeMark East Africa.