Strengthening the supply chain in Africa

By

Shay Moser

Recent shortages of toilet paper and cleaning products around the United States prompted a deeper appreciation for how healthy supply chains work. 

Even without a pandemic, in many places around the world supply chain gaps prevent goods from reaching their intended market and the people who need and rely on them. Supply chains include the system of organizations, resources and activities that move goods to consumers, and gaps can create stresses for producers and consumers alike. When these goods are food and medicine, the results can be devastating — even deadly. A large body of research shows that efficient supply chains are crucial to local, regional and national economic development. 

That’s why the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) invested in a new project via the Building Research and Innovation for Development: Generating Evidence and Training (BRIDGE-Train) program: to advance research, translation and training in supply chain management.

With a $15 million investment from USAID, Arizona State University is embarking on a catalytic partnership with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and multiple public and private sector partners to establish the Center for Applied Research and Innovation in Supply Chain-Africa (CARISCA).

The project brings together faculty expertise in the Department of Supply Chain Management in ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business and the KNUST School of Business. It’s the largest award in the W. P. Carey school’s history. 

ASU and KNUST’s shared vision for CARISCA builds on five years of equitable partnership and collaboration. ASU and KNUST have worked together on the ShipShape project, a mobile education game that teaches supply chain skills to health care workers. Plus, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at ASU brings KNUST students to ASU as part of the international accelerated degree program.

The CARISCA project is housed in ASU’s Frontier Economies Logistics Lab and leverages ASU’s world-class supply chain expertise and multidisciplinary experience in international research projects.  

New global center: CARISCA

The CARISCA center at KNUST is envisioned as a globally recognized, locally owned hub for generating and translating innovative research into positive development outcomes for Ghana and pan-African supply chains, driving country self-reliance and increasing the impact of USAID investments. 

CARISCA will harness innovative research in supply chain management, drawing on the social sciences, industrial and systems engineering, computer science, mathematics, economics, marketing, finance and management to take on significant development challenges and address barriers to development caused by inefficient and ineffective supply chains.

CARISCA will:

  • Establish KNUST as Africa’s preeminent source of supply chain management expertise.

  • Become a resource for researchers in Ghana and across Africa to drive innovative research, translation and training to improve African supply chains, sustained by revenue-generating activities and a robust partner network.

  • Significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health care and agricultural value chains.

  • Increase inclusion and impact for women and disadvantaged supply chain stakeholders. 

Ghana is the ideal country to launch CARISCA. It offers high levels of human capital supported by influential universities such as KNUST, whose existing strengths in SCM and logistics provide a strong foundation for local and pan-African SCM capacity strengthening. 

Dale Rogers, ON Semiconductor Professor of Business in the Department of Supply Chain Management at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business and director of the Frontier Economies Logistics Lab, is the principal investigator and executive director for the five-year project. 

“We believe that Ghana and Africa, in general, are likely to continue to grow in importance economically. The ASU-KNUST partnership is a wonderful opportunity to contribute to higher education and supply chain practice while learning about local Ghanaian solutions and practices,” he said.

CARISCA’s focus on supply chain management reflects a large body of research showing that efficient local supply chains are crucial to local, regional and national economic development. 

“Supply chain management transcends functional, organizational and industrial boundaries,” said Nathaniel Boso, dean of the KNUST School of Business and director of CARISCA at KNUST. “To this end, I am so excited about this unique partnership between KNUST, Arizona State University, and USAID to establish a center for applied research and innovation at KNUST to build research capacity in supply chains towards accelerated growth and development of Africa.”

Stephen Feinson, associate vice president for International Development at ASU said: “The CARISCA Project is a great example of ASU’s university design objectives to strengthen universities both here in the U.S. and around the world.”

The center’s activities will be supported and sustained by local and international networks of industry partners that connect African researchers, practitioners and businesses to global supply chain assets.