Dube TradePort CEO attends The 16th Annual African Renaissance Festival: Africa in Motion

23 May 2014

Africa is in a unique position of being in the midst of an economic boom; with a growing population that in the next decade will have a large purchasing power. But capitalizing on this will require an improved infrastructure, logistics and air connectivity; Dube TradePort’s CEO, Saxen van Coller speaks on Friday 23rd at the 16th Annual African Renaissance Festival: aptly named Africa In Motion and shares her lessons from being at the helm of KwaZulu-Natal’s largest infrastructural project, which is Southern Africa’s Premier air logistics platform: Dube TradePort.

For Africa to realize its potential there has to be a lot more Intra-African Trade. Currently African countries do more trade with the rest of the world than they do with one another. According to an economist report, African countries traded a marginal 12% among one another, by comparison 60% of Europe’s trade is with its own continent, the same is true in Asia and in North America the figure is 40%.

There are many factors we can point to which influence the state we find ourselves in today, from our colonial heritage, where various African countries have strong ties and international trade agreements that eliminate a litany of tariffs and quotas which makes trading abroad more conducive in comparison to trading across boarders. A recent World Bank report pointed out that sending products from South Africa to Angola is as expensive as sending products from China to Angola. But regional economic cooperation bodies like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are resolving all of these kinds of issues.  

The legacy of aging infrastructure or even a non-existent infrastructure network on the other hand is something that we really need to address. In South Africa we have begun a journey to do just that, with projects such as Dube TradePort. Africa is in a unique position to learn and cherry pick the best methods from developed countries in order to create efficient infrastructure that meets the needs of Africans. 

As a continent we have made unprecedented strides in moving ahead in terms of our adoption of new technologies. This has helped more African countries to make a consorted effort to base their exports to a larger degree on already manufactured products, through beneficiation and less on raw materials, which will increase the revenue they generate. As African countries we will increasingly become net exporters, and Africa will be the market with a growing purchasing power. In order for us to capitalize on these markets within the continent as we begin to specialize in our production, which will create a huge demand for goods that are of high value and low weight which will be ideal for airfreight.

Airfreight can build an extraordinary amount of efficiencies into our supply chains into Africa. The whole world recognizes the purchasing power that lies within Africa’s burgeoning middle class who wants to live with all the comforts and luxuries worthy of the twenty-first century. This is seen through the choice of food, housing, entertainment and access to the latest fashion trends. In this space, air connectivity can give African enterprises a distinct competitive advantage when competing with global players in African markets, giving them that first to market advantage. Where, instead of your goods taking five days from Durban to the DRC, they take five hours. 

Cargo and Air Services are fundamental to achieving Dube TradePort’s vision of becoming the leading global integrated and sustainable air logistics platform in Southern Africa. In line with its Air Services Strategy, Dube TradePort is working hard to increase direct international and regional air services to and from KwaZulu-Natal. Dube TradePort’s program is responsible for the development of air connectivity and air cargo services to key regional and global destinations, with greater levels of international trade, especially air cargo, to and from numerous international markets. The manufacturing, assembly and logistics precinct, Dube TradeZone, has already attracted many business who see the rest of Africa as their primary markets, purely because of its location at King Shaka International Airport, where airfreight will be crucial to those businesses accessing the African markets.