Corruption, healthcare and blockchain on the agenda for SAPICS Conference

Africa’s leading knowledge sharing and networking event for supply chain professionals kicks off in Cape Town on 10 June. With supply chain issues increasingly in the spotlight in South Africa – from the education department’s alleged oversupply of sanitary towels in schools, to the Estina Dairy Farm scandal, and former finance minister Malusi Gigaba’s budget speech pledge to ‘strengthen efforts to fight fraud, corruption and abuse of supply chain management systems across all spheres of government’ – the organisers assert that the conference’s timing could not be better.


‘This year marks four decades of bringing supply chain professionals from around the world together in South Africa for the annual SAPICS Conference,’ comments Mungo Park, president of SAPICS – the Professional Body for Supply Chain Management. He says that the 40th annual conference will be a milestone event. ‘More than 800 supply chain practitioners will converge at Cape Town’s Century City Conference Centre to expand their knowledge and drive the growth, development, professionalisation and value of supply chain management across the multitude of diverse industries that it impacts.’

In line with the association’s recognition of the critical need to optimise healthcare supply chains, where lives depend on medicines reaching patients when and where they are needed, SAPICS has lined up several specialists in this area. A powerful presentation by Deborah Dull, supply chains programme officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will discuss the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in Africa to aid decision making. The South African Health Department’s chief director of sector wide procurement, Gavin Steel, will discuss healthcare improvements achieved through an optimised supply chain implementation, Park reveals. ‘His presentation highlights initiatives and plans to address the challenges faced in a country with one of the world’s highest disease burdens and a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, as well as tuberculosis.

‘We are delighted to provide a platform for People that Deliver and the National Medical Supply Fund of Sudan to share the success of their collaboration in Sudan. A workshop presented by Jordan-based Samer Almadhoun, who is a board member at the United Nations Global Compact, will highlight humanitarian supply chain learnings from Jordan, which has for many decades been a hub for logistics relief activities in the Middle East.’

Park says SAPICS is proud to be hosting UK-based humanitarian logistics specialist Pamela Steele, whose 25 years in logistics and supply chain management in the humanitarian and development sectors includes working for UNICEF in Copenhagen. ‘Pamela is also the co-founder of AWESOME, the African Women in Supply Chain Management network. Her participation in the panel discussion around improving gender diversity in supply chain management will add significant value,’ he says.

A case study by Lean Institute Africa CEO Rose Heathcote will show how effective lean management streamlines patient care, while a panel discussion featuring thought leaders from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Africa Resource Centre will examine why the public and private health sectors should be working together to improve the delivery of life-saving medicines to vulnerable communities and patients.

Corruption and the advanced technology that savvy supply chain practitioners should be leveraging also feature on this year’s SAPICS Conference programme. Netherlands-based Arjeh van Oijen is recognised as a global expert in blockchain. In his presentation, he will address the key aspects of blockchain technology and its value for supply chains. ‘Dealing with corruption in business when the rules just don’t seem to work’ is the title of the presentation by Rob Reiche, director of Inclusivity Human Capital Services.

‘We are proud to have an outstanding range of speakers and diverse topics that will be highlighted at the 40th annual SAPICS Conference. To quote a recent tweet by President Cyril Ramaphosa: ‘Investing in education and skills is necessary to enable Africa to embrace the fourth industrial revolution and benefit from the rapid advance of technology’,’ Park concludes.

The 2018 SAPICS Conference will be held at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town from 10 to 13 June.