The 11th Transport Evolution Africa Forum & Expo took place from the 20-22 September at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC Complex in Durban. Co-located with the inaugural Logistics Evolution Africa Forum & Expo, these events brought together international participants from both the public and private sectors. Their aim was to propel the advancement and upkeep of Africa’s critical port, rail, and road infrastructure while engaging in discussions concerning the key logistical challenges, trends, and opportunities faced by businesses throughout the continent.
During the three-day event, 20 CEOs representing Africa’s port, road, and rail authorities convened at the CEO forum. In addition, the event boasted an impressive attendance of over 2600 people from more than 20 different countries. Additionally, the co-located activities encompassed the Transport Evolution Awards, formerly known as the Women in Transport Awards, as well as the SEZ (Special Economic Zone) lounge and workshop.
“Every year I come here, the conversation changes, but it changes in the right direction. In essence, what Transport Evolution Africa does is grow the knowledge base in transport as a whole and if you want to be able to understand the greater next of the industry itself, this is the place to be,” said Tshepo Kgobe, CEO of the Gautrain.
In close partnership with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the events emphasised collaboration in an integrated Africa, with sustainability and a reliable transportation network as pivotal steps towards a prosperous future.
H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General to the AfCFTA Secretariat said enhanced transport and logistics could increase trade by 40-50% by 2040, provided the sector can realise its full potential. “Transport should be immediately liberalised to increase trade.”
“Through AfCFTA, the role of the transport and logistics sector becomes pivotal and can lead to economic growth valued at over $29 trillion by 2050. Current projects exceed $580 billion. These figures underscore the importance of sustainable transport corridors and fruitful relationships to boost the African economy,” added Joshua Low, Vice President of dmg events, the organiser behind Transport Evolution Africa and co-located events.
Through trust, idea sharing and a pledge towards the long-term development of the sector, partnerships can change the narrative and speed up progress. Among these, Dr Christian Kingombe, Transport & Trade Facilitation Expert at the AfCFTA confirmed that as of August this year, 47 of the 54 signatories (87%) had signed the AfCFTA. Implementation will be the challenge to fully realise the AfCFTA’s vision, including improved intra-Africa exports and removing barriers to free trade, while prioritising sustainability.
Africa is home to a fifth of the world’s population but only processes about 4% of global container traffic, due to port capacity constraints. Many of Africa’s 64 ports are poorly maintained or not fully operational and cumbersome custom procedures are among inefficiencies to solve, along with increasing container capacity and vessel presence at ports.
Roads are the main form of transport on the continent but 53% are unpaved, which can isolate communities from basic education, health services, transport, and trade hubs. Primah Atugonza, Head of PPP & Infrastructure Portfolio at the AFDB’s African Legal Support Facility in Côte d’Ivoire agreed improvements are needed urgently. “A well-functioning transport and logistics sector will advance Africa’s development and connect businesses, consumers and markets within individual countries and across the continent.”
Bowale Odumade, Vice President of Investment at the Africa Finance Corporation in Nigeria encouraged collaboration, particularly when securing funding to take projects forward. While Africa’s challenges are significant, they can be overcome by shared commitment from stakeholders.
Seamless border crossing, efficient ports, safer and cleaner roads, and improved infrastructure are key to Africa’s success. Tambwe said $130 -170bn is needed annually to meet the infrastructure development goals of the 2025 Agenda. “All players including government and the private sector must join forces to seize the moment and propel the sector forward.”
The Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Lounge, proudly sponsored by Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ) was a highlight this year to explore shared learnings. “This event is an important and cementing factor to be able to contribute to sector growth and economic development,” said Dr Bheka Zula, CEO of the TASEZ.
For a SEZ to succeed, it often takes people, infrastructure, land and investment, according to Free Port Saldanha SEZ CEO Kaashifah Beukes who attributes success to leaning on a unique value proposition and the environment. A SEZ brings immense potential for economic growth to its immediate surroundings and to the broader economy, including employment and enhanced trade.
Panel discussions at the events featured sustainable topics to supply chain trends, while free to attend workshops addressed security concerns and empowering the sector, among other themes.
“This year set the stage for a brighter and more efficient future for transport and logistics. Delegates were excited to embrace this and work together to see the sector shine,” concluded Le-Ann Hare, event director at dmg events.
The 2024 event will take place from the 8-10 October 2024, at Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg and will include a ‘Green’ Transport Evolution section of the show and streams on sustainability within the transport and logistics sector. For more information on how to get involved in this event, please visit the website at www.transportevolution.com