Increased interest in African commodities has resulted in most African countries reviewing their transport and logistics networks, particularly railway and port infrastructure to improve the conveyance of mined materials.
Africa Rail 2012 and Africa Ports & Harbours Show 2012, both taking place from June 25 to 29, at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg, will see guest speakers from different continents sharing ideas on improving Africa’s transport infrastructure.
“It is imperative for countries to have sound transport and logistics infrastructure, for without efficient railway lines and ports, commodity-based economies cannot grow,” says Africa Rail and Africa Ports & Harbours 2012 organiser Terrapinn GM Samkelwa Madlabane.
The event boasts keynote addresses by Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, State-owned freight logistics group Transnet CEO Brian Molefe, South African port operator Transnet Port Terminals CEO Karl Socikwa, South African Maritime Safety Authority CEO Tsietsi Mokhele and Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin.
Further, Madlabane points out that the event is also geared towards attracting investment to facilitate infrastructure development on the African continent.
“Transnet recently announced the roll- out of its infrastructure plan for the devel- opment of railway networks and port efficiency over the next seven years. These projects will cost Transnet R300-billion, and the freight company will need to source capital.”
Africa’s mining sector is currently in need of efficient railway and port logistics systems, and Transnet’s intention to upgrade existing railway lines, as well as to build new railway lines, and upgrade ports will have significant benefits for mining houses.
Further, Madlabane says companies such as Brazil-based multinational diver- sified miner and logistics operator Vale, diversified miner Rio Tinto and iron-ore miner African Minerals are among many such end-users building their own infrastructure.
“Mining investment company Beijing Axis Group, which is currently the largest driver of railway investments in Africa, will also be present at the event,” adds Madlabane.
He says the conference will also be a suitable platform for government and business to further share ideas and strengthen public–private partnerships (PPPs). “The participation of end-users of railway lines, such as mining houses, is important, as this platform will provide engagement opportunities for State-owned companies, rail operators and the private sector.
“There is a trend within Africa’s private sector, where we see companies beginning to build their own infrastructure to increase efficiency and reduce costs rising from poor logistics systems. We believe that PPPs can benefit all stakeholders.”
Meanwhile, Terrapinn business development manager Samantha Pickard emphasises the importance of logistics infrastructure; she says investment in the development of railway lines and ports not only holds the potential to unlock the continent’s economic growth, but also has the ability to provide millions of Africans with a source of income through job creation.
“The South African government is using infrastructure development as a job-creation vehicle, while empowering its people through skills development.
“In the last three years that I have been involved in organising the Africa Rail and Africa Ports & Harbours show, major investments have been made by mining companies operating across the continent and there is a focus on ensuring bulk minerals are moved from pit to port as quickly and efficiently as possible,” she explains.
Further, Pickard says the conference will facilitate trade relations between African governments. “South Africa can play a significant role in sharing expertise with other African countries regarding infra- structure development. This is even more relevant now as South Africa will have a strong transport industry after the proposed rail and port projects are completed.”
Ports and Harbours
The Africa Ports & Harbours Show will include speakers from both international and African ports who will be sharing their knowledge and wealth of experience on managing their customers, privatisation and funding models, port infra- structure, planning and design and port efficiency.
A hot topic on the agenda will be the widescale investment and development taking place at African ports. Port projects in focus will include the old Durban Airport dig-out develop- ment being planned by Transnet.
Delegates can also learn from Geert Visser, regional director of the Port of Rotterdam, who will speak on what Africa can learn from the Port of Rotterdam – one of the most efficient ports in the world.
Major port and terminal authorities from across Africa, from both the public and private sectors, will be looking to take advantage of this expanding market.
Also listed as guest speakers at the event are Transnet National Ports Authority CEO Tau Morwe, Kenya Maritime Authority commercial shipping head John Omingo and African Development Bank principal infra- structure specialist Lawrence Kiggundu.
Pickard says the events aim to bring African governments, investors, end-users and rail and port authorities together to discuss how efficient transport can stimu- late Africa’s economic growth.
“This is the largest African transport infrastructure event and we are optimistic that this edition will pave the way for the implementation of bigger and better things to come.”
Africa Rail 2012 will be the fifteenth edition, while the Africa Ports & Harbours Show will be the ninth edition.