Africa urged to exploit opportunities in digital revolution

President Jacob Zuma has called on Africa to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the unfolding digital revolution to create more entrepreneurs than job seekers through skills development and innovation.

Addressing the Terminal Operators’ Conference (TOC) Africa in Durban on Tuesday, the President said the continent has a youth bulge and could not remain behind in the development of the digital revolution.

It is, therefore, imperative that government, the private sector and all our stakeholders continue to work together for a better African continent, President Zuma said.

The TOC Africa was attended by experts and investors involved in logistics, liner shipping, ports, terminals, inland transport and equipment manufacturers to discuss improving trade flows across the African continent.

The conference is in line with the country’s policy focus of contributing towards a prosperous continent through, among others, increase in intra-Africa trade.

The reality is that the movement of goods, services and means of production within the continent is hindered by the lack of sufficient infrastructure.

I am leading efforts through the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative to ensure that there is economic connectivity in our continent, and your presence complements these endeavours, President Zuma said.

He said once the continent gets the infrastructure right it will see results in terms of foreign direct investment.

The ongoing policy reforms that enhance the ease of doing business on the continent will also contribute immensely to the competitiveness of Africa.

Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy

Also critical at this point, the President said, is the need for Africa to derive value from her maritime industry and develop the oceans economy.

South Africa is already promoting the development of its oceans economy sector through the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy programme.

Operation Phakisa is a fast results delivery programme that was launched in July 2014 to help South Africa implement the National Development Plan, with the ultimate goal of boosting economic growth and create jobs.

In 2015, the ocean contributed about R60 billion to South Africa’s gross domestic product and accounted for about 397 000 jobs.

We believe that the future potential of the ocean economy is highly concentrated within marine transport and manufacturing activities, such as coastal shipping, trans-shipment, boat building, repair and refurbishment, he said.

Industrialisation and sustainable development

Furthermore, the President also encouraged Africa to develop its manufacturing capabilities and achieve industrialisation.

Our region, Southern African Development Community (SADC), has also prioritised industrialisation and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 also prioritises sustainable development for the continent.

We regard it as our shared responsibility to change the paradox of a rich continent which is endowed with natural resources but which is inhabited by poor people.

The African peoples need to benefit from the wealth of the continent and it needs to improve their quality of life, he said.

Transnet

Transnet National Ports Authority Group Chief Executive Siyabonga Gama said the entity wants to be at the forefront of driving regional integration and economic growth which will lead to the creation of jobs and raising the standards of living for all Africans.

Greater connectivity within the regional freight system is a key objective for Transnet and our flagship project in this respect is the establishment of the Port of Ngqura as a regional a transhipment hub connecting the Indian Ocean subcontinent, South America and the West Coast of Africa.

We handle in South Africa almost a quarter of Africa’s transhipment shipment volumes and we have set challenging growth targets, Gama said.

Transnet is also collaborating with development partners and it’s planning to deliver a smart port regional solution that will enhance efficiency and productivity in the regional transport sector by connecting transport operators thus simplifying intricate commercial issues, such as pricing and capacity on the network and making it easier to plan shipments.

Gama said Transnet is starting to make a significant footprint in the continent which will eventually lead to regional integration and lower transport costs.

It is imperative that business is digitally enabled to meet the high levels of customer expectations to gain a competitive edge and continue to thrive in today’s robust digital economy, Gama said.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Sihle Zikalala said the province will continue to improve the Durban port and ensure that the Richards Bay port is also developed.

TOC Africa

He said the TOC Africa and exhibition provides a platform for the province to demonstrate its ambitions and cement its position as a key global player.

The world-class trade exhibition and networking conference coincides with big-ticket investment undertakings in the country to expand the capacity of its major commercial ports to support the projected increases of cargo volumes.

The conference will also showcase to the world the vast array of investment opportunities and capabilities on offer at the world-class ports which also have an established history as the gateway into the rest of Africa.

Source: South African Government News Agency