South Africa’s ports will need to evolve into a more entrepreneurial ports system, instead of being facilitators of trade, in order to continue trading in a world often characterised as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, Transnet National Ports Authority logistics supply chain specialist Lwandile Mabuza said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Southern African Transport Conference, in Pretoria, she said that, in order for the country’s ports to evolve, South Africa would need to transform not only through using predictive data analytics, but also by using intelligent business operations, such as telematics.
Mabuza cited data analytics as being key for the future, since it “can change the role of any port authority from port, to logistics planner”, which was said to be a strategic move for the country in terms of economic and logistics development.
Systems and processes would then enable integrated logistics supply chain planning and execution, allowing for flexibility of transport flows and intermodalism, she added.
Linked to this was the need to simultaneously adapt for the workforce of the future. While automation was often seen as synonymous with job losses, Mabuza argued that this was not the case.
South Africa, she said, needed to explore what sort of automation could be implemented to enhance efficiencies and make ports more productive but without impacting on the human element.
“What people don’t realise [is that] when we have conversations about automation, . . . is that automation has already happened and [that job creation is dependent on] how we harness it and enhance the way we work, to create more jobs and skill people effectively so that they don’t lose their jobs because of automation,” Mabuza elaborated during her presentation.
She noted that South Africa, and its ports, had a responsibility to take advantage of innovation and technology to ensure it could increase employment through automation.