Infrastructure investment essential for SA shipping industry

News & Society

  • Author Harvey Mcewan
  • Published November 12, 2012
  • Word count 499

The shipping industry is a key player in South Africa's major successes despite global economic insecurity, but investment in infrastructure is the only way for it to continue to thrive. To safeguard the shipping industry for the future and keep the 'gateway to Africa' open, stakeholders and businesses must consider the opportunities open to them when it comes to investing in innovations and infrastructures to support new vessels.

The vast majority of South Africa's important and exports are transported by sea, making it an industry that had weathered hard times well and one that is guaranteed to continue to perform well in the future. For businesses to be able to continue to capitalise on this success, they must think about making changes for the future during a period of relative stability for the industry.

Ports, terminals and rails are among the essentials that the SA shipping industry should be considering as ripe for innovation. To remain strong and continue to capitalise on the commence already in hand, thinking ahead of the curve and creating new infrastructure that can keep up with the demands of tomorrow is key. The country remains strategically positioned to access global trade routes and hold a prominent economic position in Africa, but these strengths could be eroded in time, as other countries and industries advance their own technological prowess.

To be able to afford to invest in the future, many shipping companies are being forced to look as ways to boost efficiency. A global economy suffering from recently recessions and financial disasters has ensured a period of stagnation when it comes to prices for freight shipping, which may be set to change in the future. However, increases in price cannot simply be passed on to customers and clients, forcing shipping innovators to instead look for ways they can boost their productivity while cutting costs.

Energy is an area that is offering many shipping businesses the opportunity to save. By moving away from costly legacy systems and taking advantage of some of the state-of-the-art, environmentally responsible generators that are currently available, they can boost efficiency and cut overheads. New and improved temperature control equipment can also offer huge savings for shipping companies that have to spend a lot of money on keeping cargo at a particular temperature. Modern, efficient solutions can cut power consumption while ensuring temperatures are perfectly regulated.

By looking at areas that are currently functioning but may not be performing to the best of their abilities, shipping companies have the opportunity to scale down their expenses and free up more money to invest in the kind of innovations that will safeguard the industry for the future. To remain profitable in the long term, it is essential to look beyond yearly bottom lines and to instead search for ways they can make long term improvements, this allows them to harness the improvements in essentials such as power generation and look forward to new infrastructure that will be able to take advantage of the advancements.

Harvey McEwan is knowledgeable in the field of power generation.

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