South African rail, port and pipeline company Transnet recently published its network statement, which details the functions of the infrastructure manager and the contractual agreements for private sector operators. The statement is a step towards introducing third-party access to South Africa’s rail network.

Speaking during the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium of South Africa (SIDSSA), South Africa’s Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga underscored that transport and logistics are catalysts for economic growth, and as such, the country is rolling out a transportation plan that aims to improve efficiency, modernize infrastructure while enhancing regional integration through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Taking place on March 17-19 at the Century City Conference Center, SIDSSA brings together key stakeholders in South Africa and across the continent with the aim of driving infrastructure development. SIDSSA 2024 serves as a crucial platform for discussions and partnerships in the infrastructure investment landscape, with a focus on accelerating economic activity through strategic infrastructure plans. Energy Capital&Power – the leading investment platform for the African energy sector – is a media partner for this important platform. For more information, visit

“The instruments are there for the region and the continent. Now we need to fast-track the implementation [of the AfCFTA] with a view to crowd investments. The program of action includes the implementation of maintenance, construction and upgrading of projects,” stated Minister Chikunga.

Andrew Shaw, Group Chief Officer: Strategy&Planning, Transnet, provided insight into the statement, explaining that it “encompasses the conditions under which operators can operate on the network and the rules and responsibilities we have. We hope to enable the first round of third-party access from June this year. It would probably be from April 2026 that you would have a complete separation of regulatory responsibility. We are going into a transition phase to enable third-party access to the network.”

The publishing of the statement falls under efforts by the country to reform the transportation industry.

Central to this strategy is the development of road infrastructure. Reginald Demana, CEO of the South African National Road Agency, detailed upcoming projects in this area.

“We are looking at a new initiative with Zimbabwe on the N1 at the Beitbridge border, where we will look at a potential development of another bridge. This will increase capacity to facilitate the crossing of the border. It is an initiative in its early stage and is something that is economically viable. We are also looking at upgrading the R415 – connecting South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho. This will facilitate trade and tourism,” he said.

To realize the full potential of the AfCFTA, significant investment is required in both South Africa’s and regional transport infrastructure. Currently, challenges in logistics and transport continue to impact intra-African trade.

According to Yash Ramkolowan, CEO of DNA Economics, “Intra-African exports accounted for roughly $100 billion in 2022 or 15% of Africa’s total exports. If you compare it to the America’s, intra-American trade accounted for 40%. A large focus on the AfCFTA has been on the reduction of import duties, but in reality, non-tariff barriers are the biggest portion of cost to trade in Africa. These include issues around logistics, borders, the standardization of projects, and transport.”

On the private sector side, Peter Varndell, CEO of NEPAD Business Foundation, stated that, “Our goal is to support government with their priorities by aligning them with what business needs. Because transport is such a major cost of trade in our region, whatever we can do to improve efficiency, results in affordable exports and imports.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Energy Capital&Power.

About SIDSSA 2024:
SIDSSA 2024 is organized by the Investment and Infrastructure Office under the Presidency, in collaboration with the Association of African Exhibition Organizers. The National African Federation for the Building Industry joins as an association partner, while the Development Bank of Southern Africa is the official sponsor of the event.

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