Therefore, to challenge the status quo and develop freight infrastructure networks that can be maximised on beyond mining activities, alone, a long-term vision that is underpinned by a multi-faceted approach to an integrated transportation strategy is needed. To achieve these, Governments and businesses in Africa must have a meeting of minds on how to address the opportunities. Additionally, there needs to be more active engagement between all stakeholders – government, mining companies, investors and local communities – alike, and in them agreeing on innovative and mutually beneficial solutions to establishing logistics infrastructure.
For instance, African Governments should look to build on the existing systems in union for collaboration, as doing do will empower these Governments to;
- Establish more joint initiatives and/or projects that meet their country’s individual, as well as the regional, social mandates for change and growth.
- Understand and exploit the key levers for growth in country
- Share knowledge and best practices, so as to learn from the models of execution that have been used in other countries – particularly on what works and what doesn’t.
- Believe in and stick arrogantly to the robust plans and act with integrity without sway
- Properly integrate regional strategic and long-term planning (for instance in Southern Africa in support of the SADC agenda and initiatives), as well as adopt the agenda by being authentically committed to the long-term shared vision.
- Commit to an African perspective which talks about investing within Africa and work to enable strategic intra-Africa trade – for instance, not just focusing on international export opportunities in the short-term, but the opportunities to trade within Africa in the medium- to long-term, as well as beneficiation hubs that are strategically located to supply for the African demand.
- Understand the complexity in project development
With so many facets to consider, there is unfortunately no single answer or solution to ramping up on freight infrastructure in Africa. Certainly, the technical competence and capability is available globally and within Africa itself to; plan, construct and operate optimum infrastructure solutions.
However, a multi-faceted approach that adequately engages all stakeholders on their respective needs – and in the most mutually beneficial and transparent manner - and seeks improved co-operation, would still be the best first step in moving towards optimal infrastructure investment and operation. This is far easier said than done, however, and would require a willingness and co-operation, which so far, has not been seen and is often very difficult to facilitate.