Transport infrastructure is a fundamental enabler of sustainable economic growth in Africa and essential for global competitiveness and trade. As with many industries around the world, the transport industry is currently experiencing great change, which is being driven by several global trends, including technology and automation and Environment Social Governance (ESG).
From self-driving vehicles and intelligent traffic management systems to the design of individual transport chains in passenger and freight transport, digitalisation shows great promise in transforming transport networks across the world.
Jürgen Maier, Owner and Advisor at Mobility Advisors in Switzerland says that while industrialised countries have made the first inroads in collecting and using digital data and technologies to shape a more efficient transport system, developing countries are in a good position to benefit not only from best practice, but also from the mistakes made by the developed world.
Looking at the primary benefits of digitalisation in an African context, Maier says that new technologies can address the biggest cost driver in logistics, i.e. the time needed to transport goods from one point to another. For example, while freight and customs documents are currently required in paper form, using digital technology they can be sent in advance to customs authorities to check, shortening the time spent at the border and reducing border post bottlenecks and congestion.
Tracking technologies, while not new, are also becoming increasingly useful in increasing traceability and conditions of fleet and individual freight items and improving operational efficiency.
However, in order to realise the full benefits of technology, Maier says it is critical that legal frameworks and manual processes are also adapted.
“Ultimately, Africa needs a modern, cost-effective, and sustainable transport system for passenger and freight transport that includes city logistics as well. The more companies and countries that take up the topic of digitalisation in a co-ordinated, collective manner, the faster the benefits at individual, company and national level,” he says.
Once seen as a fad, in 2022 it is clear that ESG and sustainability are concepts that are here to stay. What this means for the transport industry, according to Alexa-Rae Hicks, ESG Project Manager at Moore Global, is that all key players need to get on the ESG train before it leaves the station, or else they face an increasing risk of being left behind.
Over 50 African countries signed the original Paris Agreement at the Conference of Parties (CoP) 26 in 2016, agreeing to set targets to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change in the form of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). With each year, NDCs are being updated and made more stringent, says Hicks, but ultimately, those countries that signed the Paris Agreement, including South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia, have an obligation to put their NDCs into practice.
“Transport companies must be mindful of the pending ESG regulations, reporting requirements and legislation that will place an additional administrative and regulatory burden on them,” she adds.
An example of this is in South Africa, where carbon taxes for high-emitting industries have been set that will eventually roll out across all industries.
“ESG reporting is going to become mandatory very soon, which will mean a real change in terms of reporting requirements, which will cause a domino effect, in that supply chain banks will stop providing funding to non-compliant entities without an ESG score or sustainability disclosure, resulting in companies being cut out of the transport supply chain,” says Hicks.
Trade Show Drives Transformation of Southern Africa’s Transport Sector
In the fast approaching Transport Evolution Mozambique Showcase & Forum, taking place between 11 and 12 May in Port of Maputo, Mozambique, both Maier and Hicks will come together with hundreds of other leading transport professionals from across the continent to explore the above global trends from an African perspective, in order to identify infrastructure investment opportunities, navigate cross-border trade challenges and improve the competitiveness of Africa’s port, rail and road sectors for sustainable economic growth.
Registration is currently open. For visitor and exhibitor information or to register, please visit: www.transportevolutionmz.com