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The Roads Evolution Africa Forum & Showcase was a much-needed industry update where public and private sector stakeholders met to review the past pandemic months, share the learnings on different financial processes and refocus for near future that needs a ready and resilient people who are adamant in making a difference.

The Opening Plenary Session hosted the MEC Peggy Nkonyeni and MEC Jacob Mamabolo – the MECs from the busiest and progressive provinces in South Africa. MEC Peggy Nkonyeni started off by congratulating the leaders of this forum for hosting such an important gathering under very difficult conditions of COVID 19. She continued to state how this encourages us all to continue executing our mandates regardless of these difficult conditions.


MEC Nkonyeni was tasked to speak on the topic “Outlook and opportunities within provincial transport sectors and the impact on Africa”, this topic challenged them as a Department to ponder about the role of transport as a sector in the socio-economic landscape and it challenges them to come up with solutions on what needs to be done to mitigate some of the challenges. Central to answering this topic is the integrations of all modes of transport to equally play an active role in promoting growth and development. The department wants to see road infrastructure improving and becoming world class infrastructure – but equally they want to utilise rail, maritime and air transport to facilitate and expedite growth and development. As the provincial department, they have recently emerged from their strategic planning session where they adopted a theme of being “Transport – a gateway to Africa and the world”.

By this, they want to use their strategic location with the biggest port of Durban located in their shores and the Port of Richards Bay. They also want to capitalise on the existence of the Dube Trade Port and the King Shaka International Airport. MEC Nkonyeni highlighted how on the entire transportation infrastructure, the national government has proclaimed plans to spend R900 billion by 2027. As the provincial government they are prioritizing projects that connect Africa, including the construction of the main road P318 in Sani Pass which connects South Africa and Lesotho.

Amongst the many plans that the Transport Department in KwaZulu Natal has, the MEC gave us a seven-point plan on how to address the transport challenges the province is currently experiencing:
1. The expansion of the ports of Durban and Richards Bay
2. The rolling out of rail infrastructure development programme
3. The enhancing of the sea transport
4. The development of airports and upgrading the old ones
5. The implementation of the road infrastructure network
6. The alignment and integration of public transport
7. The future of cars, technological advancement and artificial intelligence.


MEC Jacob Mamabolo shared the departments 2030 plan which is the Growing Gauteng Together through Smart Mobility – GGT2030. This is an intense programme that includes fine combing of every tender issued and refining of processes that no longer serve the province. MEC Mamabolo started sharing with us his vision of Building Strong Institutions – this is kicked off by the establishment of transport infrastructure house (TIH) which identified a number of problems within the province from slow project delivery that doesn’t meet the Province’s requirements; no consolidated list of projects with status, budgets, etc.; delay in the supply chain process; delay in probity auditor appointment; through to lack of detailed project plan and budget for major infrastructure and using different reporting tools, styles and templates.

He then led us into the objectives of the Transport Infrastructure House (TIH) which were to develop the Programme Management culture within the department with the aim of strengthening efficiencies and accountability; to develop reporting systems with a view of standardizing the management of information and the ease of reporting to ll levels ranging from project to programme to portfolio and management levels and to establish a framework for delivery in terms of the National Programmes and the department’s strategic directions. The Transport Infrastructure House consists of senior managers from primarily infrastructure business units within the department. MEC Mamabolo then shared with us the achievements thus far by the Transport Infrastructure House:
1. Workstream establishment and co-ordination
2. Development of a single book of projects
3. Project reporting by worktream
4. Using common reporting template and dashboard
5. Active Tracking of project progress.

MEC Mamabolo also noted how transport remains a catalyst for economic growth. Gauteng accounts for 7.4% of South Africa’s entire road network, 55000km of road services, 60% of national freight traffic and Gauteng also boosts of 921km of rail. In addition to its estimated resident population of 15.2m, as of 2019, the province’s vehicle population has grown from approximately 4.3m in 2011 to 4.8m as of 2019, including public transport. The use of technology is part of Gauteng’s plan for transport. Smart Mobility is prioritised and this will lead to further integration of provinces, Southern Africa and ultimately the continent.


The forum investigated how the biggest risk we face is the risk of doing nothing. Not taking a risk to face the road infrastructure needs and gaps is a risk in itself. Road safety from an infrastructure perspective and a behavioral one was also examined and discussed as a hindrance to the integration of Africa. Green materials were studied through PPCs Bheki Mthembu, whilst Shaun Moodley and Tom McKune gave us a technical view of what can and needs to be done now to preserve our roads and keep our skills industry relevant.

The Roads Evolution Africa Forum & Showcase was thought-provoking and exciting at the same time. It goes without saying that we needed more time. There was a lot of information, a lot of knowledge sharing and this forum promises to be bigger and better going forward.


The Transport Evolution Africa Forum was a high-level industry meeting that prioritised the major transport sectors tackling the issues that rose prior the pandemic and were not dealt with, and also dealt with bottlenecks that arose during the various lockdowns. Egypt took center stage for Opening Keynote Plenary session where the Former Minister of Investment walked us through their journey on how they got it right as a country.

In order for any transport infrastructure plan to take place that will support the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, full government support and buy-in needs to be established by the member countries. If the member countries don’t see the benefit of the agreement and how proper infrastructure will benefit them as a country, then Africa won’t see the desired results from this agreement.


In answering the question, what has been done towards the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, Eunice Ajambo from the United Nations in Namibia highlighted the Agenda 2060 that points out the priority sectors in which transport is one of the priority sectors for this Agenda 2063. Transport has been highlighted as a driver and enabler for the sectors.

It goes without saying that there will be demand for transport in Africa given the rapid growth it is currently experiencing and technology will be the pleasant complement to this sector.


The World Bank Container Report that saw African ports lose investment and business to other countries was spotlighted and the Port Chief Executive Officers could share their expansion and upgrade plans to the audience. The difficulty experienced by the Ports is one that is yet to be felt by the economies.