CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – State-owned Transnet’s newly appointed CE Portia Derby has pledged to partner with the mining industry in an open and transparent way in a bid to boost the utility and ultimately help grow the economy.
“We want to be a cool, easy company to deal with. We don’t want to make it difficult for you to talk to us. We want to partner closely with you and are going to be listening to you a lot more than we were before,” she told delegates to the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
Derby, who started in her position at the beginning of February, said her five focus areas would home in on customer service, people, asset utilisation, safety and cost control. She said it was vital to connect with people, including Transnet’s 55 000 employees.
“The issue if you don't have strong relations with the people who work for you, is that asset utilisation and cost control are going to be a problem. Transnet belongs to every single one of us.
“My next steps are to engage with employees, engage with customers, engage with partners, engage with industry and engage with communities.”
Derby said she hoped to boost efficiency and speed up decision-making.
Another priority is to fill vacancies in leadership positions.
The new Group CE identified four pillars that would be the gateway to achieving Transnet’s strategic goals. These were to increase manufacturing, sustainable gross domestic product growth, regional integration and a South-South Gateway, which involved boosting trade with the global South.
Derby said mining made up 85% of Transnet’s business, but it needed to grow in other areas of the economy as well.
She said she hoped Transnet could play its part in boosting manufacturing, which was a key driver of economic growth, providing 10.7% of South Africa’s jobs.
Derby said it was vital to provide jobs for young people, in particular, and manufacturing would be key to this.
The new Group CE said closer partnerships with countries in Africa were essential to increase intra-Africa trade. She said addressing the deficits in ports, rail and roads would be a key enabler for unlocking value from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The aim of the AfCFTA is to increase intra-regional trade to 52.3% by 2022.
The African Development Bank has suggested that the continent’s infrastructure needs are between $130-billion and $170-billion a year.
Derby said she had already had talks with Angolan officials at the Mining Indaba. She also highlighted Zimbabwe as a neighbour that South Africa needed to work with.
“It is in our interest to see it developing.”
Derby was upbeat about the potential in Transnet and said she looked forward to returning to the Investing in African Mining Indaba next year to report back to the mining sector on the State-owned enterprise’s progress.