The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Southern Africa Trade Hub aimed to increase international competitiveness, intra-regional trade, and food security in Southern Africa. With offices in Gaborone, Botswana; Centurion (Pretoria), South Africa; and embedded advisors in offices in Malawi and Namibia, the Trade Hub worked primarily in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia.
The Trade Hub provided needs-driven assistance to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), governments, and private sector organizations in eight countries to advance regional trade within Southern Africa while incorporating gender integration, environment compliance, and strategic outreach in all activities.
Given Mozambique’s size, with stakeholders logistically removed from each other, USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub required a multi-user, secure online solution. Oracle was the organization’s preferred choice as it is globally accepted software that could be supported by a qualified service provider.
USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub, through its Warehouse Specialist Consultant, Dr André van der Vyver, explored various submissions by software service providers to design, develop, and implement a specialized software system suitable for Mozambique. Post implementation training and support service also played an important role in USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub’s decision making process. The organization appointed APPSolve, a South African Consulting organization to deliver this solution. For approximately six months, Dr André van der Vyver closely liaised with APPSolve on scoping the requirements, developing the solution, and finally rolling out the solution. The consultant and AppSolve managed the project in a multi-country and multi-stakeholder environment.
The WRS is a specialized or custom made stock management system. This means USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub had to be intimately involved in the scoping and design of the system. At implementation or rollout, and given the lack of computerized skills at warehouse level, USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub in collaboration with APPSolve presented various training workshops to educate users.
APPSolve selected Oracle Technology for USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub’s solution for several reasons. First, there were low license costs for the Oracle Database, Express Edition and for the Oracle Application Express. This was very attractive to USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub as it meant that the organization would only incur meaningful costs when the database volumes grow significantly and there is a need to upgrade to the Oracle Database, Enterprise Edition. In addition, Oracle provided a simple and scalable solution that was quick to develop and deploy. Further, the solution did not require the organization to invest in a large supporting infrastructure, and it can reach remote areas easily. Finally, the organization can support the solution easily because the technology is global and Oracle skills are easily accessible.