Infrastructure reform could support Africa amid Chinese slowdown

Global competitiveness, among other things, should be boosted through infrastructure provision and exports to different global destinations, according to FNB economist Alex Smith.

He was speaking about the ‘macroeconomic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa’ during the AGM and networking event of Southern Africa Shippers Transport and Logistics Council (SASTALC) held at the FNB Fairland complex in Johannesburg recently.

Smith said 50% of the country’s exports were commodities, hence “more proficient logistics” were needed to drive global competitiveness. Because weak commodity prices “look like they are here to say”, structural reform should be used as a key policy tool in “exporting to different countries across the world”, he said.

Lebo Letsoalo, vice-chairperson of SASTALC, said unlike in the past there were now some synergies between the industry and government which were critical within the value chain they operated in. Gauteng MEC for Transport Ismail Vadi said SASTALC was a wonderful initiative. SA, he added, had to maintain its competitive edge and remain the gateway to Africa.

Cameroon Shippers Council deputy chief of operations Cham Etienne Bama said SASTALC was a “victory for Africa” in its quest to make the continent’s shippers’ councils to speak with one voice. Walvis Bay Corridor Group chief executive Johnny Smit said Namibia’s government had taken a decision to make SA “a logistics hub in southern Africa”.

Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative chief executive, Barbara Mommen, did not attend the event and her vote of affirmation was read by SASTALC chief executive Brenda Horne Ferreira.

It read in part: “We look forward to working with you all to maximize the opportunities which this region has [in order] to trade competitively in the world.”