The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a slow down in international trade over the past year. The shipping of goods through air and sea transport was heavily affected, especially in 2020. However, this slowdown did not kill innovation around trade and digital shipping solutions in Africa.\nThe Africa free Continental Trade Area offers an ideal avenue to increase inter-trade within African countries, and with this comes the need for logistical tools that can ease the movement of goods across borders.\nAfrican innovators and entrepreneurs have founded a range of companies aimed at facilitating \u00a0trade in Africa and around the world. Using technologies such as tracking, data analytics and aggregation portals, African enterprises can now more easily manage their shipping needs.\n\u201cTo improve efficiency, ports must invest in digital, which will give them the capabilities needed to capture cargo, reduce costs, manage capacity better and improve cross-border trade," according to a 2020 report from PwC Kenya. "A wide range of applications including blockchain to autonomous vehicles, drones, smart sensors, 3-D printing and cloud platforms can help ports to cut costs, improve asset utilisation and significantly improve the customer experience and safety across the value chain.\u201d\nHere are six top import-export shipping companies that are making Africa ready for world trade through technology.\nMVX\nYear Founded:\u00a02016\nHeadquarters:\u00a0Nigeria\nCo-Founders:\u00a0Tonye Membere-Otaji, Tobi Amusan\u00a0\nWhat they do: MVX is an end-to-end service aimed at enabling cargo owners find deals on moving containers across Nigeria. It began by offering vessel-tracking services but pivoted to offering freight booking and MVXpay, a financial service to provide trade financing to freight operators. According to the company, African businesses pay 40% more and take over one month to move and manage international freight transactions because they are usually offline.\nCompetitors include: OnePort365\nCustomers:\u00a0SMEs, Cargo owners, importers and exporters\nWhy they're a top digital freight company: \u00a0\u00a0Offering financing to freight operators to ensure their businesses grow is a great addition to the services. The company offers shipment tracking for enterprises and through digital means remove the back-and-forth paperwork that is needed to clear cargo.\nSwiftly Global\nYear Founded:\u00a02016\nHeadquarters:\u00a0Ghana\nCEO and Founder:\u00a0Edem Dotse\nWhat they do: Encompassing sea, air and road freight, Swiftly Global offers cargo owners a full suite of services for their export and import needs. Its quote engine gives cargo owners choice on the best service providers to engage in. The service can be accessed through web and mobile interfaces and enables traders to conduct their orders digitally.\nCompetitors include:\u00a0Webb Fontaine, Jetstream Africa\nCustomers:\u00a0Cargo owners, exporters and importers\nWhy they're a top digital freight company: \u00a0Swiftly Global enables customers to quickly compare the pricing of air, sea and road freight costs and gives them the best alternative, saving money and time. It promises to lower costs by up to 30% for African freight goods coming in or going out of the continent.\nCloud Fret\nYear of creation: 2020\u00a0\nHeadquarters: Morocco\u00a0\nFounder: Driss Jabar \u00a0\nWhat they do: For any business looking to export or import goods from between Europe and North Africa, road transport is the most efficient mode of transportation. However, finding \u00a0reliable trucks can be a challenge. CloudFret locates empty trucks and offers them to shippers of goods. Their AI based system matches freight owners to carriers, ensuring that no truck is driven empty. In the end, carriers can offer lower prices but quickly capture business. \u00a0\nCompetitors include: Sennder (in Europe), Kobo360 & Trella (in Africa)\u00a0\nCustomers: SMEs, shipowners, importers and exporters \u00a0\nWhy they're a leading digital freight company: Its use of digital tools like AI has helped carriers and cargo owners reduce lead times and make international trade between Europe and Africa much more seamless.\nGetSote\nYear Founded:\u00a02018\nHeadquarters: US (with regional office in Kenya)\nCo-Founder:\u00a0 Felix Orwa,\u00a0Meka Este-McDonald,\u00a0Scott Yacko\nWhat they do: \u201cWhat if technology could streamline logistics across Africa?\u201d Sote asks on its website, underlining the aim of the company. Sote uses big data to give clients enough information to ensure smooth movement of goods in, out and around Africa. It also offers a tech-enabled service to help clients, clear customs.\nCompetitors include:\u00a0 MVX, OnePort365\nCustomers:\u00a0FMCG, exporters and importers\nWhy they're a top digital freight company:Despite its headquarters in California, Sote targets to bring tools that will make it easier for Cargo owners to move goods in Africa. It has already raised over US$4 million to push its agenda and reportedly processing 160+ containers monthly.\n\u00a0OnePort365\nYear Founded:\u00a0 2019\nHeadquarters:\u00a0Nigeria\nFounder: Hio Sola-Usidame\nWhat they do: OnePort365 is a B2B freight-management system designed to enable the delivery of containerized cargo and other freight management services through the use of technology. \u00a0OnePort365 uses digital tools for \u00a0online booking, management and tracking of international and local shipments. Its data tool gives cargo owners transparent pricing of shipping services, end-to-end.\nCompetitors include:\u00a0 MVX\nCustomers:\u00a0 FMCG, exporters and importers\nWhy they're a top digital freight company:\u00a0\u00a0 OnePort 365 gives African businesses the tools to participate in international trade while lowering the costs and inefficiencies associated with international shipping of containerised cargo. Users of the platform get instant freight rates as well as 100% visibility of the entire freight process through digital trackers that monitor shipment progress.\nJetstream Africa\n\u00a0Year Founded:\u00a0 2018\nHeadquarters: \u00a0Ghana\nCo-Founders: \u00a0\u00a0Solomon Torgbor, Raquel Wilson, Miishe Addy\nWhat they do: \u00a0Jetstream seeks ways to use technology to ease international trade for enterprises in Africa, bringing together private sector logistics providers at African ports and borders, in an online system. It offers a combination of freight carriers, customs agents and ground transporters, with a good mix of freight knowledge to \u201cmove shipments of any size\u201d. Part of its tech offering include shipment tracking, offers digital pricing for transparency and\nCompetitors include:\u00a0\u00a0 Swiftly Global\nCustomers:\u00a0 SMEs, Cargo owners, importers and exporters\nWhy they're a top digital freight company: Having raised an initial USD 3m, recently Jetstream is seemingly aiming high to make it a one-stop-shop for cargo owners seeking international trade.