Historic Regional Logistics and Transport Conference to Unlock Sub-Saharan Africa’s Potential at the Futuroad Expo

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s branches in South Africa and Zimbabwe have announced their first-ever collaboration – at the Futuroad Expo taking place from 19 to 21 November at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg.  The Institute will be hosting a three-day conference under the theme “Unlocking Sub-Saharan Africa’s Potential: Transforming Transport and Logistics for a Sustainable Future”.

“The broad objective of the event is to generate fresh impetus amongst regional role players and stakeholders to improve Sub-Saharan Africa’s transport and logistics infrastructure through collaboration, innovation, and sustainability in order to boost economic development, safety, and regional integration,” explains CILT South Africa (CILTSA) President Elvin Harris.

The Institute anticipates strong support and attendance from Sub-Saharan Africa countries.

The three-day Agenda focuses on five key logistics and transport pillars:

  • Infrastructure: This session will address infrastructure developments and challenges, transport corridors, investments in infrastructure, cross-border challenges, as well as trade integration.
  • Harmonisation (including legal and regulatory frameworks): The challenges of different regulations and standards across borders within corridors will be discussed, and strategies for harmonisation to facilitate the smoother movement of goods will be considered.
  • Safety and security: During this session, safety concerns within transport networks will be tackled, and strategies to reduce accidents and promote secure travel for passengers and goods will be highlighted.
  • Skills development and education and training: Topics that will be covered here include skills gaps, collaboration with industry partners, curriculum development, certification and accreditation, the use of technology, internships and apprenticeships, continuous professional development and also diversity and inclusivity.
  • Technology, digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence: This section of the Agenda will explore how digital tools and platforms can streamline customs procedures, enhance supply chain visibility, and improve regional collaboration in the transport and logistics sector.

Efficient logistics is vital for trade and development and is a key enabler for economic growth. Compared to other regions, intra-African trade is just around 13%, whereas continents like Europe boast an intra-regional trade volume of 60%. This disparity is largely attributed to poor infrastructure and limited transport and logistics capabilities.

“Sub-Saharan Africa’s transport and logistics challenges are well documented,” says CILT Zimbabwe’s Director of Education, Dr Tapiwa Mujakachi. “The high cost of logistics is a major challenge. Due to inefficiencies and infrastructural limitations, moving goods within Africa can be 30-40% more expensive compared to other regions. This significantly impacts business operations and hinders economic growth.”

Inadequate transportation infrastructure across many regions, with roads, railways, and ports falling short of international standards, hampers efficient logistics operations. Furthermore, the complex regulatory landscape across African countries continues to create obstacles for seamless cross-border trade. Inconsistent tariffs, customs procedures, and compliance requirements add complexity to supply chain operations.

Limited technology adoption in certain regions also hinders optimisation. From route optimisation to real-time tracking, technology can significantly enhance logistics efficiency. However, companies face challenges in implementing these solutions due to infrastructural limitations and varying degrees of digital literacy.

But despite the challenges, African logistics also boasts exciting opportunities. “Through our regional event, we aim to create a platform to enable collaboration, learn best practices and explore regional strategies to overcome the challenges,” concludes Harris. “Our broader aim is to play a role in unlocking the region’s economic potential – for the benefit of all.”

Conference delegates will have the opportunity to visit both the Futuroad Expo and Automechanika. Futuroad Expo Johannesburg is the most comprehensive business platform for the truck, bus and commercial vehicle body sectors. As the first and only truly international trade fair of its kind on the African continent, Futuroad attracts a visitor audience from across the sub-Saharan region. Automechanika SA is South Africa’s leading international trade fair for the automotive service industry targets trade visitors from the Sub-Saharan Region.

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