The longest running rail conference and exhibition in Africa, Africa Rail, will mark its nineteenth year of existence, says international business to business media company Terrapinn.
Africa Rail partners with rail authorities across Africa to bring industry leaders and innovators together in one place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, in South Africa, to discuss new technologies and innovations in the industry.
Africa Rail consists of an exhibition and conference. The exhibition contains exhibitors that are looking to supply end-users, operators and authorities as well as original-equipment manufacturers with new technology and practical solutions. The exhibition targets engineers and technicians that work on the ground day-to-day.
Africa Rail conference producer Pearl Marsh explains that the conference takes place at the same time as the exhibition. The conference starts with a keynote plenary then splits into three streams, or breakaway sessions, each focussed on a particular theme. There are also round table discussions and a pre-event site visit.
The keynote sessions take place in the main conference and are delivered by global rail ‘trailblazers’, while the round table discussions are interactive and spark interesting debate.
She says that the first site visit to Transnet Engineering’s (TE’s) Koedoespoort factory, in Pretoria, took place last year and proved to be popular among the attending delegates. The site visit for this year will be hosted by Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and Gibela at the Wolmerton train depot also in Pretoria. The theme will be investing in passenger rail services and uplifting the economy.
“We do research into the railway industry to find keynote speakers who are disruptors or innovators in the industry. This results in a world class conference agenda, and the meeting place for buyers, sellers and their partners to do the deals that drive Africa’s railway sector,” Marsh explains.
She says that Africa Rail promotes the development of Africa’s railways and the growth of skills and knowledge. It creates a networking opportunity for buyers to reach out and find solution providers that are willing to help them grow.
The first Africa Rail exhibition was launched in 1997 and has been organised by Terrapinn every year. Terrapinn is expecting over 6 500 visitors to attend the event, with 110 speakers being scheduled for the duration of the conference as well as about 200 exhibitors to showcase their products and services on the day. Also, several railway companies are expected to announce new innovations, product launches and African firsts.
This year, PRASA, TE and GE will each announce new innovations during the exhibition.
“Africa Rail gives African governments, operators, authorities and businesses a platform to show how they have helped to grow the industry,” explains Africa Rail project director Tarryn Theunissen.
She points out that the conference is for executives, buyers and high-ranking officials such as operators, authorities and governments to share ideas, speak about current challenges and to discuss new opportunities in the rail industry.
Throughout the Africa Rail event, there are several speakers that will be approaching subjects such as how rail is getting smarter in the twenty-first century, how to decrease rail incidents, how to ensure passenger safety and how to determine the right signalling system for a railway.
Africa Rail has been growing every year – starting as a small conference with only a small number of exhibitors – to an event that requires two floors at the Sandton Convention Centre. Marsh explains that because the Africa Rail event has been so successful, Terrapinn is launching the East Africa Rail exhibition and conference in Nairobi, in Kenya, later in the year.
“Owing to the growth in exhibitors and conference speakers, we are sure that Africa Rail will continue to be a success for a very long time,” she concludes.