Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan has an ambitious goal of getting state ports and rail giant Transnet to secure up to R100 billion in new infrastructure investment in South Africa’s aging and restricted ports over the next five years.
On Monday, Gordhan and Transnet Group CEO Portia Derby announced plans to secure private sector partners and investments in Transnet’s port network over the next five to ten years as part of the government’s broader economic reforms initiative. aimed at unlocking investment and strengthening the country’s growth and competitiveness. .
The requests for information (RFI) will measure the market appetite of the private sector to invest in South African ports, which have historically been controlled and developed by the state monopoly Transnet and the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).
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As part of the first round of requests for information, Gordhan says that Transnet is seeking local and international companies to invest billions of rand in terminal operations at the Port of Durban and the Port of Ngqura (part of the Industrial Development Zone from Coega, north of Port Elizabeth / Gqeberha).
Transnet, which has historically been profitable even though it was also involved in state capture during the Zuma administration, does not have the balance to undertake the kind of mega-infrastructure investment needed to boost the capacity, efficiency and competitiveness of the companies. SA ports, especially the Port of Durban which handled more than 60% of the country’s container traffic.
Gordhan and Derby expect RFIs to generate great interest from local and foreign investors and key players in ports, terminals and the maritime industry.
The first opportunities being seized include investing in Durban’s main Pier Two container terminal; the expansion of the Point Container Terminal also in the port of Durban; and expansion of container terminals in Ngqura.
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While highlighting the projects in Durban and Ngqura, Gordhan emphasized that the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and Transnet are considering an “investment of R100 billion in the entire SA port system over the next five years.”
A large part of the planned investment is expected to go to the port of Durban, which is reaching a capacity of around 2.9 million TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit) containers per year.
“The Port of Durban is only expected to see an investment of around R100 billion over the next 10 years,” Gordhan added, reiterating a figure mentioned by President Cyril Ramaphosa during a government tour of the Port of Durban in early December. this year.
He said Transnet is busy finalizing the Port of Durban Master Plan, which aims to ensure the port continues to handle 60% of SA’s import and export container traffic with significant infrastructure investment plans on the cards.
“These are massive investments in the economy, by Transnet itself and by South African and international investors, which [are] quite important to demonstrate confidence in our economy, but also to improve the infrastructure in relation to the logistics system in South Africa ”, he emphasized.
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Gordhan said that after RFIs and then an RFQ (Request for Quotations), an Official Request for Proposals (RFP) would go out in November this year and close in February next year. Between March and June next year, the offers will be evaluated and it is expected that they will be awarded.
This means that the DPE and Transnet want to have the first round of investments with the private sector in the country’s ports signed within a year and, consequently, start construction or see that investment in the infrastructure of the port terminal accelerate. .
While neither Gordhan nor Derby mentioned targeting any specific private sector partner, noteworthy is the recent announcement by Dubai-based global ports giant DP World of its offer to purchase the JSE-listed logistics group Imperial.
DP World is also a joint venture partner with Grindrod Limited, which is listed on JSE, in the operation of a terminal at the port of Maputo in Mozambique and has a presence in several other African countries.
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Meanwhile, Derby said during the briefing that investments in the port of Durban through 2032 will see the port’s container or TEU handling capacity nearly quadruple, from the current 2.9 million TEU to 11.3 million. TEU.
However, this builds on all infrastructure projects as part of the Port of Durban Master Plan going forward, including a super port terminal in the middle of the port.