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REVITALISING RAILWAY SERVICES THROUGH INNOVATION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA





CFM


Mosenngwa Mofi

Foreword from the President of SARA

Moving Towards an Integrated Regional Rail System

Southern African Railways Association Rail hosted its second successful annual International Rail Conference and Exhibition in South Africa in November 2011. Last  year’s conference and exhibition which ran under the theme Revitalizing Railway Services Through Innovation in Southern Africa was officiated by the Honourable Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Public Enterprise for the Republic of South Africa The Conference was attended by ministers, senior government officials, suppliers, customers , regional rail administrations, various other stakeholders apart from Chief Executives and senior officials from SADC railways. The aim of this annual conference and exhibition was to promote development, growth and integration of the rail transport industry in support of the regional development agenda. This will enable railways to offer innovative solutions that address service demands for clients and positively contribute to regional competitiveness..

The concurrent Exhibition provided an appropriate platform for suppliers to showcase available equipment and technology which the railways can leverage on to re-engineer their services for the benefit of customers and the regional economy as a whole.  The ministers personally visited each stand and the industry stakeholders exhibiting and participating in the conference had the privilege of interacting with Chief executives and senior personnel from various disciplines.

The rapid economic growth in few SADC countries especially in the mining industry is putting pressure on the rail transport industry to provide bulk transportation solutions. In this regard, the economic role of railways is to provide a platform seamless transportation services for people and goods. It is our firm belief that transportation modes should not hinder economic participation but should instead enhance vibrant economic production and trade. Apart from providing a forum for articulating railway industry issues and transportation in general, the 2011 Conference successfully fostered direct relationships across various stakeholder categories and provides a basis for evaluating current railway performance.

RAILWAY CHALLENGES IN AFRICA

During our conferences both in 2010 and 2011 international rail industry leaders and experts provided insights and solutions to operators, developers, governments and investors to assist them address their challenges. These challenges include insufficient and declining capacity leading to failure to cater for growing demand; poor maintenance of infrastructure and equipment; inefficiency of railways and failure to adapt to technological developments.

The Southern African Railways Association has also identified challenges of appropriate railway technology that matches the vision of the African economic agenda in providing fluid mobility and also moving towards addressing safety and environmental concerns. Issues of theft and vandalism, very old infrastructure and skills management and capacity also remain cause for concern.  The theme of the conference and exhibition also pointed to the regional railways’ aspirations to modernise and improve their performance for the benefit of all. The rich plethora of experienced experts that shared their experience and advice at our conference, as speakers and participants, has positively contributed towards addressing pertinent issues affecting regional railways.

I extend my utmost appreciation to all those who attended and supported the conference for investing their valuable time and resources to contribute towards our objective of providing rail solutions. I similarly extend my sincere gratitude to the organizations that have sponsored this year’s event especially our platinum sponsor Transnet Freight Rail, the exhibitors and the participants who invested in this conference. We look forward to more successful conferences in the future.

Growing success registered at our previous conferences has given us full confidence to strengthen and continue building up on this key industry forum. Preparations for the 2012 Conference which is scheduled to take place in Maputo, Mozambique in November have already commenced and all key stakeholders will be periodically updated.

 

 

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