The 2019 edition of the two-day African Ports & Rail Evolution conference and exhibition got underway in Durban on Tuesday, 15 October at the Durban ICC, with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) as host port authority.
Now in its eight year, this high-profile event has become a business hub for Africa’s port and rail officials. TNPA’s Acting GM: Corporate Affairs & External Relations, Jacqueline Brown, delivered the official welcome address on Day 1, following opening remarks by Neville Matjie, CEO of Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal.
“Our ocean space should be as highly regarded in terms of its economic contribution to our economies in a similar vein as the mining and resources sector where gold, platinum, diamonds and other natural resources contribute significantly to our respective GDPs,” said Brown.
The keynote address by Transport Minister, Honourable Fikile Mbalula, emphasised the importance of international and regional integration.
“Despite its significance, the potential of the transport sector to contribute more towards full integration of the region is constrained by serious operational and infrastructure inefficiencies,” he said.
He said it was necessary to deal with operational delays, congestion and inefficiencies in the cross-border transport system and to move faster to establish a regional regulatory authority to enforce agreed harmonised standards. Mbalula said while challenges in the rail sector were being addressed, there was an urgent need to mobilise regional resources to modernise the country’s ports to improve turnaround times and address inefficiencies.
While there is a need to look at tariff regimes to ease doing business continent-wide, the Minister said the South African National Ports Regulator had made significant progress towards tariff redress.
Mbalula reiterated that South Africa is ready to host the World Maritime Day Parallel Event in Durban during the October Transport Month in 2020.
“We aim to showcase South Africa’s and the entire continent’s maritime capabilities and interests,” he said.
Other TNPA speakers at the African Ports & Rail Evolution event were Senior Manager: Property, Manqoba Mdunge, who facilitated a workshop on successfully maintaining port real estate, Acting Chief Procurement Officer, Shantell Mackay, who spoke on supply chain solutions, and Principal Engineer, Dr Kana Mutombo, who explored the possibility of a deep offshore port in South Africa.
TNPA women were also among the finalists in the Women in Transport Awards held during the event.
Marine Compliance Manager Londy Ngcobo, known widely as Africa’s first female dredge master, was a finalist in the Excellence in Leadership Award category. This was won by the City of Tshwane’s Sheila Senkubuge.
Port of Durban Deputy Harbour Master, Captain Pinky Zungu, was a finalist in the Best Skills Contributor category, eventually won by Durban University of Technology lecturer, Balungile Masuku.
African Marine Solutions (AMSOL) took top honours in the Best Women’s Skils Development Programme of the Year category, in which the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence was a finalist.