Governments in Africa must create an environment where pit-to-port projects can get off the ground for the benefit of widespread development on the continent, says Frans Pienaar, Chairman of Inyatsi Construction, a company that has been involved in such projects in southern Africa.
Pit-to-port projects are part of a holistic approach to development, and roads and earthworks, such as those work done by Inyatsi, contribute significantly to the lives of people on the continent. Africa does not have sufficient infrastructure for moving materials, as it remains an underdeveloped continent lacking logistics infrastructure.
“Due to the huge capital cost of pit-to-port projects, several entities are usually involved, which makes it important for governments to take the lead. Projects of this magnitude can only be funded if the benefit base is wide enough. It requires governments to create the environment for these projects, but the lack of political will is often a challenge,” Pienaar says.
He points out that red tape often stands in the way of projects that can benefit not only producers, but everyone who will use the infrastructure created to move materials from the point of production to the closest point of export.
“Roads play a major role in connecting customers with businesses. Efficient transport infrastructure helps to reduce costs and increase profitability, which in turn leads to more economic growth. Our involvement in various projects, such as the N4 bypass-highway around Nelspruit, upgrading of roads in Northern Mozambique, road works in Swaziland and upgrading of roads in Zambia has proven that that the whole region benefits from better roads that offer access to markets,” he says.
According to studies, the development of ports is as important as the roads leading to them. “South Africa is planning to upgrade and expand infrastructure at the ports of Durban, Richards Bay, Saldanha, Cape Town, East London and Port Elizabeth. The total project will be worth R56bn, enabling the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to position itself as an innovative and competitive entity in a difficult global economic environment. This is a good example of government taking the lead and enabling pit-to-port projects.”