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South Africa’s logistics costs reached R393-billion in 2013, equating to 11.1% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which does not compare well with the figures of North America, at 8.8%, and Europe, at 9.2%, Stellenbosch University’s (SU’s) newly launched Logistics Barometer South Africa 2015 reports.
However, South Africa fared better than South America, whose logistics costs were 12.3% of GDP, and Asia Pacific, at 12.8%.
Changes in input costs were expected to increase this percentage for 2014 and 2015, as South Africa’s economy was transport intensive.
The country was one of only three that routinely measured and reported logistics costs as a percentage of GDP in a quantitative manner – the others being the US and Brazil.
The barometer, launched on Monday, was aimed at strengthening the research published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Imperial Logistics in the State of Logistics surveys for South Africa over the past ten years.
“This is an exciting development for SU as we are launching a product that is of great importance to the industry.
“This research serves the country as a whole as it is used for strategic decision-making on a provincial as well as national level. It provides regulators, policy makers, infrastructure owners, economic planners and others who operate in the logistics field with intelligence to deal with the issues identified. This research puts SU on the cutting edge in terms of calculating logistics costs using international benchmarks,” SU researcher Zane Simpson said.
The Logistics Barometer identified transport as the most significant portion of logistics costs in the country. South Africa’s GDP constituted only 0.44% of the global GDP, yet 0.6% of the world’s road networks and 2% of the world’s rail network were in this country.
South Africa accounted for more than 1% of the world’s tonne-kilometres, 1.7% of the world’s container trade and 5.1% of the world’s dry bulk trade. More than 80% of transport costs were owing to road transport, with rail tariffs contributing between 11% and 13%, and pipeline tariffs 2% or less in recent years.
The biggest contributor to road transport costs was fuel. Even with reduced tonne-kilometres in 2013, the total fuel bill was still higher than in 2012, owing to a higher diesel price.
The totals for some of the variable costs – Including driver wages, depreciation and insurance – have seen a slight decrease. However, this was not owing to a drop in input costs, but rather a slight change in industry behaviour, Logistics Barometer contributing researchers and editors Nadia Viljoen and David King warned.
“The Logistics Barometer will have an international impact through the reputation of the underlying research and the long-standing collaboration between SU and other researchers globally.
“Our work is noticed by researchers around the world and used as an example of only a few countries where this measurement is repeated annually and used regularly. We now have 11 years of consecutive logistics costs measurements, and are proud to be leaders in this field,” Simpson commented.