Business in South Africa

  • Transport and Networks

Transport and Networks

Infrastructure development is a critical anchor in South Africa's strategy of progress. South Africa's phenomenal expansion of trade during the past five years has resulted in roads, railways, airports and seaports developing to reach new levels of efficiency. Major projects and large contracts, involving transport and electricity networks, are currently in the pipeline throughout the country.

Ports, roads and rail

South Africa sits astride the world’s major shipping routes, a natural stop en route to Europe, Asia, Australasia and the rest of Africa. South Africa has seven commercial ports, representing the largest and best-equipped harbour network in Africa. The KwaZulu-Natal-based ports of Durban and Richards Bay provide complimentary services, with Richards Bay having the largest bulk coal terminal in the world (more than 80 million tons of coal is routed through this port). Durban is South Africa’s busiest port, providing the largest container facility in Southern Africa at 2,6 million TEUs per annum, representing 64% of South Africa’s container traffic.

The South African Government has implemented an R11 billion investment programme, which will see major port, rail and road improvements during the next several years, taking growth and productivity to the next level. Companies manufacturing for export are able to locate in any of the four available Industrial Development Zones (Export Processing Zones). These are strategically located to minimise logistics costs and to maximise profit potential for investors. The R1,26 RBCT expansion project has also seen an increase in the port capacity from 79 to 91 mtpa. The terminal is undergoing further expansion to increase capacity.

South Africa's rail network for freight carried ranks 10th in the world and is the 13th longest globally, handling 113 BT per annum. Transnet, the state corporation responsible for managing the rail network, has major development programmes underway to ensure that the network remains the best maintained in Africa and continues to provide a mission-critical service to South African exporters.

KwaZulu-Natal air transport facilities

The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), the largest airports authority in Africa, operates the country’s 10 principal airports, including O.R. Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in Johannesburg, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airport in Durban. Together, ACSA airports handle more than 200 000 aircraft landings and 23 million arriving and departing passengers annually.

King Shaka International Airport, opened in 2010 and located at La Mercy, just 35km north of the city of Durban, has developed a reputation for handling dignitaries and delegates professionally and efficiently. This ground breaking airport, the third busiest in South Africa, was a result of the outstretched capacity of the old Durban International Airport. In its first year of operation, the new airport handled a total of 4,8 million passengers, an impressive 10,7% increase over 2009/10, from world-wide destinations.

Linked to the airport’s air freight component is Dube TradePort - which offers extensive commercial facilities, such as Dube TradeZone - whose two-fold objectives include:

  • Recapturing KwaZulu-Natal freight currently utilising Gauteng’s O.R. Tambo International Airport and,
  • Providing a platform to actively support and generate new investment across the full range of air freight-related businesses and associated services in KwaZulu-Natal.

In addition to direct connectivity with Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Seychelles, Mauritius, Turkey and Doha in the Middle East, Emirates operates a direct daily connection between Durban and Dubai. There are also a myriad of other direct connections with the O.R. Tambo and Cape Town International airports. South African Express also connects Durban with the province's smaller regional airports located in Richards Bay and Pietermaritzburg, facilities which also have direct links to O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

IT & telecommunications

South Africa provides world-class IT and tele-communications services. Some 99,8% of digital networks with fixed-line, wireless and satellite communication make up the most sophisticated tele-communications infrastructure in Africa.

The GSM cellular phone market is in the top quartile globally in terms of growth and offers clear opportunities to innovators in the sector. Benefits of their significant investments are being reaped currently by major players, inclusive of Alcatel, Siemens, Vodafone and SBC Communications.

Telkom, South Africa's major fixed-line operator, is a key player in a US$630 million optical fibre undersea cable project. Almost 40 nations and several international tele-communications operators have joined Telkom in the SAT-3/WASC/SAFE initiative, linking African nations with both Asia and Europe. The cable is able to transmit 80 gigabits per second between two points and will link to KwaZulu-Natal at Dube TradePort.