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New Transport Minister commits to addressing logistics challenges
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New Transport Minister commits to addressing logistics challenges

New technology requires new skills

SOUTH AFRICA: Speaking at the opening of the Southern African Transport Conference yesterday, the newly appointed Minister of Transport, Barbara Creecy committed to working together with the Minister Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Maropene Ramokgopa, to ensure that Transnet undergoes performance reforms.

“When our transport systems suffer, our economy faces depressed economic growth and declining investment,” she said in her keynote address.

“As the 7th Administration we are aware of these challenges and aim to address them comprehensively throughout the next five-year term,” she said adding that the establishment of the establishment of the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC), chaired by President Ramaphosa and the adoption by Cabinet of the Freight Logistics Roadmap represented a significant development in this regard.

The NLCC is focused on bringing stability to the supply chain and logistics sectors. Admitting that the NLCC was still “young”, Creecy said that it would be employed to encourage more private sector collaboration and participation. She noted that Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) was engaging with private operators within the port system.

Digitalisation

Creecy also highlighted the coming challenges and opportunities represented by increased use of digital technology.

“In this next decade transport will be revolutionised by an acceleration of digital technology and new inventions powered by renewable energy.

Such innovations include operational automation and real-time tracking of shipments to assist in port management, digital signalling to modernise the management of our railway system, and the use of artificial intelligence in traffic management, and the introduction of self-drive vehicles and drones for delivery,” she said noting that the need to manage the country’s training output to ensure that the workforce transitions with the use of technology.

“It means no time must be lost to upskill those already working in the industries so that they are not left behind as we transition to the widespread use of these new technologies.”

“It means no time must be lost to upskill those already working in the industries so that they are not left behind as we transition to the widespread use of these new technologies. New technologies, and new global imperatives will fundamentally alter the skills requirements of those employed in the transport sector as well as open up new value chains for new forms of economic access, ownership and employment,” she added.

Taking the country’s geographical position into consideration, Creecy identified the need to secure South Africa’s position as an important transit hub for landlocked neighbours as well as within the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

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