“We have been going through a process to change the way ports are perceived, and the way they perceive their roles,” said Tau Morwe, chief executive of Transnet National Ports Authority, speaking at the Transnet Business to Business (B2B) breakfast dialogue session.
“We come from a history that favours the export of raw un-beneficiated commodities. The strategy now is to ensure that manufacturing is promoted. The more beneficiated the product is, the easier it will be to export.”
In collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry, Morwe said that Transnet implemented a pricing strategy project to ensure businesses remain competitive.
(READ MORE: Manufacturing in S.Africa remains fragile)
“People are always talking about the high port costs. But in the last two years, we have discounted over a billion rand to automobiles and containers. This current financial year was based on that discount and we didn’t push the price up. With the pricing strategy, it will be cheaper to manufacture goods locally,” he explained.
“Ports should not be looked at for exporting manganese and so forth. We need to create manufacturing capabilities near the ports so we can export.”
Following this, Transnet signed a manufacturing pact with Chinese company CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive which will see the establishment of a research and development facility and manufacturing plants in South Africa as well as creating business opportunities across Africa.
“We need to start thinking along the lines of how we can use the ports to harness the capacities of the economy. Our vision is to end up with ports that are interlinked with the city,” said Morwe.
(READ MORE: S.Africa strengthens ties with China)
A second project underway includes setting up a port in the Northern Cape in order to reduce logistical challenges.
“The Northern Cape has lots of minerals and resources. The problem however is how do we export these out of the region? Setting up a port will not only contribute to development of that market, but it also means there’ll be fewer trucks on the roads,” he added.
Other projects include the development of community friendly ports to support the development of small businesses.
(WATCH VIDEO: Transnet National Ports Authority signs MOU with Kenya)
“The message that we want to leave with the business community is that the ports are open for business and we want to enable communities to interact with ports,” he said.
“We need the input of the business community to share ideas because we are here to serve the interests of business.”