Shipping, Port & Logistics

The Shipping Ports and Logistics Industry forms a vital part of the South African Maritime Supply Chain System and a key asset in South Africa's international trade infrastructure. This industry is comprised of marine services, cargo handling services and terminal operations and transportation. It forms the backbone of the maritime sector with approximately 12,000 deep-sea trading ships regularly calling at South African ports each year to carry around 98% of the country's internationally bound commodities and merchandise. 

South Africa's ports serve as conduits for trade between South Africa and its trading partners in the Southern African region, but also as hubs for traffic to and from the rest of the world. The bulk of international trade (approximately 98%) is moved by sea through the eight commercial ports (Saldanha Bay, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Ngqura, Durban and Richards Bay) of the country. Accordingly, the performance of ports regarding prices, reliability and speed of cargo handling are crucial to the competitiveness of the country's (and by extension regional) international trade. 

Cargo handling services, terminal operations and supporting services include ancillary services such as storage and warehousing services, customs clearing, container station depot services, maritime agency services, freight forwarding services, which are the source of up to two thirds of user expenditure in typical ports and accounting for the bulk of port-related employment. 

Transportation through shipping, air, trucking and rail services serve a pivotal role in the efficient movement of commodities and merchandise from the source point all the way up to the final destination along the maritime supply chain network. Unfortunately, all the ships carrying cargo in and out of South Africa are foreign-registered and foreign-crewed, employing 240,000 seafarers, of which less than 1% are South African. This means that they do not contribute to creating wealth for South Africa. Instead they create wealth through transporting South African produce in the jurisdictions where the vessel is registered. The opportunity cost for South Africa is astronomical – for example, the 36 billion rands that is paid annually for shipping services only accrues to foreign owners and operators. 

Many challenges and opportunities for improvement have been noted with respect to ensuring that the South African Shipping Ports and Logistics industry is globally competitive and responsive to local socio economic demands of South Africa. South Africa needs to overcome the series of strategic challenges facing the industry and effectively position itself to benefit from the opportunities both in the country as well as those emergent across the broader African continent. These multiple inhibitive factors demand a well-orchestrated and collaborative response from the industry, government and all key relevant stakeholders. To this end, the South Africa Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC) will bring together a representative grouping of key decision makers along the Shipping Ports and Logistics value chain to identify and put to action the most optimal solutions for this important industry of the maritime sector and the South African economy.