With an unemployment rate of about 27% in South Africa, State-owned Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama highlights the need for creating, on an urgent basis, more job absorption strategies.
This vision, he explained at the Vision 2030 Summit, in Johannesburg, on Thursday, will involve employing more of the youth, while furthering intracontinental trade in Africa.
In line with this, Gama pointed out that Transnet has adopted its Transnet 4.0 Strategy, which is linked to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and is focused on repositioning Transnet as a globally integrated logistics solutions provider.
With technology as the driver behind growth across Africa, Gama highlighted that “if we want to see a continent that is truly digital, then we must do this on our terms”.
As the world evolves to meet the requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its disrupting effect on all economies, he pointed out that there are things South Africa, and the continent, will need to consider to achieve true digital growth.
This includes the development of digital skills, with all industries needing to become digitally disrupted, while public-private partnerships remain top drivers for change.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the defining moment of our time, and it promises a fusion of technologies which are poised to disrupt all industries”.
These changes mean new technologies, new market entrance opportunities, new customer expectations and, therefore, new business models, to which the continent needs to adapt rapidly.
“Considering this, we find ourselves, as Transnet, operating in an ever-changing global environment with the Fourth Industrial Revolution transforming the way we do business, transforming the way we respond to stakeholders and by transforming and showing us different impacts in a manner and way we think we should interact with society,” he said.
In terms of Transnet’s new strategic blueprint, called Transnet 4.0, the entity has prioritised geographic diversification “using the core competencies of ports, railway lines and pipelines.
This strategy also aims to grow Transnet to a R100-billion business by 2020, as well as position it among the top five international logistics groups through focusing on major growth areas, including geographical diversification, while encouraging the notion of intra-African trade and manufacturing.
Where other continents are experiencing intracontinental trade of between 40% and 50%, Gama lamented that Africa’s intracontinental trade only stood at about 16%.
A step towards intracontinental trade, he averred, is the National Development Plan (NDP), which brings the possibility of jobs and accelerated growth.
Gama said the NDP could also contribute to growth in other African economies, through intracontinental trade.
Further promoting intracontinental trade, he highlighted that Transnet has launched Transnet International Holdings, which will focus on facilitating multiple rail, port and pipeline projects in the rest of Africa.
“In order to ensure that we grow, we need to work with government in ensuring the success of the NDP. Government, in turn, needs to be enablers and provide a friendly environment in which to do business,” said Gama.
He added that it is vital to build relationships with others on the continent to create partnerships.
Meanwhile, Transnet has identified new potential growth markets, including South America, North Africa and the Middle East, for its existing products and core capabilities.
“This will provide not only a stimulus to reindustrialisation in the domestic economy but also regional and continental economies,” he said, adding that all of these growth paths are underpinned by a strong focus on maximising the use of technology to drive efficiency, innovation and effectiveness.