The 11th Transport Evolution Africa Forum & Expo concluded on 22 September at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC Complex in Durban. Co-located with the inaugural Logistics Evolution Africa Forum & Expo, the events welcomed global participants from the public and private sectors to drive forward the development and maintenance of Africa’s vital port, rail, and road infrastructure.
In close partnership with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the events emphasised collaboration in an integratedAfrica, 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 Louw, Vice President of dmg events, the organiser behind Transport Evolution Africa and co-located events.
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.
In South Africa, 91% of all Co2 emissions are due to road freight. The average diesel long-haul truck going between Durban and Johannesburg creates almost one tonne of Co2 emissions per day. There are about 400 000 trucks on the road. “Emissions reduction of 20% should be the goal for every transport business,” said Abdool Kamar, Manager at KDG Logistics, South Africa emphasising that businesses can still be profitable when going green. There are pros and cons to any of the alternative options such as hybrid trucks, battery electric and hydro combustion vehicles, among many more.
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.
Transport and logistics could be at the core of job creation and vital infrastructure development. “Partnerships have the potential to turn challenges into opportunities. Together we can achieve remarkable results,” said Patient Sayiba Tambwe, Executive Chairman of African Desk, DRC and Tanzania.
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.”
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.
The Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Lounge was a highlight this year to explore shared learnings. 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 technical 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 Phetogo Kubheka, Portfolio Director at dmg events.