The Maldives’ vast system of 26 atolls presents one of the planets most challenging logistics landscapes. Servicing dispersed islands makes shipping expensive. Luxury resorts expect five-star punctuality. Weather can make sea lanes capricious.
“Being a country where we have to bridge the gap between the sea and the land quite often, we need a lot of assets in terms of logistics,” says Ahmed Maumoon, chairman of Centurion Group, a leading logistics company that manages the nation’s largest fleet of perishable supply ships for resorts. “The logistics costs of the Maldives are between 18% and 23% of GDP, a very high percentage from any standpoint,” he says, adding that up to 99% of all goods are imported.
“Thus, our main goal is now focused on establishing warehouse solutions. Most investors in the Maldives expect logistics support to have warehousing solutions, but unfortunately it’s not developed yet, so there’s immense potential here,” he observes, noting that the Gulf could play an important role.
Centurion had a banner year in 2016, when the company became the first Maldivian private company to be listed on the local stock exchange, an event Maumoon accredits to a new drive for capital and awareness. Since going public, Centurion has been approached by Maersk Line through their Gulf division, and, according to Maumoon, is expecting to issue Centurion’s first dividends to shareholders in the near future.
Having clearly benefited from the listing, Centurion is looking to fortify an already strong industry lead. “Today, of all the imports into the Maldives, 20% of them come through us on the freight side,” says Aimon Jameel, Centurion’s managing director.
“On the logistics side, we would have a much bigger contribution, totaling about 35% of the market. Name any major project in the Maldives, and we will have had some contribution in it, ranging from the construction for the new bridge and the airport expansion to resort construction and ongoing solar panel work,” Jameel observes.
Having closely worked with Dubai’s Sharaf Shipping, Jameel spots synergy. “We see the Gulf as a place where there’s huge knowledge in warehousing solutions. They’re a distribution center for the entire region,” Jameel observes.
“That’s something that we would definitely like to have in the formula,” he concludes.