The new line is the first fully electrified cross-border railway in Africa. (Photo: AFP)
The new line is the first fully electrified cross-border railway in Africa. (Photo: AFP)
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Above and top: Fishermen repair their nets on the shores of Lake Malawi.
Left: Young boys amuse themselves in the early morning. 	
	Pictures: Greg Dardagan
061210 Above and top: Fishermen repair their nets on the shores of Lake Malawi. Left: Young boys amuse themselves in the early morning. Pictures: Greg Dardagan
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Lake Malawi, above and right, is a breathtaking body of water so expansive it resembles an inland sea.
170110 Lake Malawi, above and right, is a breathtaking body of water so expansive it resembles an inland sea.
File photo - Malawian children walk in the sand on the shore of Lake Malawi.
File photo - Malawian children walk in the sand on the shore of Lake Malawi.
The SGR cargo train rides from the port containers depot in Mombasa, Kenya, to Nairobi, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta opened the country's largest infrastructure project since independence, a Chinese-backed railway costing nearly $3.3 billion that eventually will link a large part of East Africa to a major port on the Indian Ocean as China seeks to increase trade and influence. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)
The SGR cargo train rides from the port containers depot in Mombasa, Kenya, to Nairobi, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta opened the country's largest infrastructure project since independence, a Chinese-backed railway costing nearly $3.3 billion that eventually will link a large part of East Africa to a major port on the Indian Ocean as China seeks to increase trade and influence. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)
JOHANNESBURG - Emmanuel Ntshangase, Country Manager of Maersk Line Hinterland Territories on Monday said access to the Hinterland countries is vital for the growth of the African continent, as each of the countries have a great deal to offer the rest of the world.

“Lake Nyasa in Malawi contains more fish species than any other lake in the world, making it a prime location for the export of fish. Furthermore, Zambia is Africa’s second largest copper producer and Zimbabwe is the world’s sixth largest tobacco producing country.” Poor inland connectivity and the related cost to move products inland are among the biggest challenges currently facing landlocked countries with regards to trade.

“The World Bank Trading Across Boarders Report, which ranks economies on their ease of doing business, suggests that Hinterland Countries currently have room to improve when it comes to moving products inland.”

Ntshangase said the majority of these issues to the high proportion of cargo that currently moves inland via road. “The border crossings and customs processes in these landlocked countries were not designed for the amount of traffic and cargo that currently moves via road, which has occurred due to the use of railways having diminished over the years.”

He said increasing the use of rail, which reduces the amount of cargo on the road, provides a solution to the majority of these challenges and brings about numerous advantages in the form of lower costs, diminished risk and social benefits. “Rail transport is a cost-effective option in comparison to truck transport, particularly for heavy 20’ containers, and railways are more and more willing to work with customers to find better transport solutions.

Risk is also reduced in terms of port storage as well as possible standing time at the border posts and finally, from a more social aspect, roads will not be further damaged and by reducing trucks on the roads, there will be fewer truck-related accidents.”

Ntshangase said: “Closer to South Africa, Transnet Freight Rail are continually performing maintenance and upgrading lines as well as locomotives whilst all the other Southern African rail operators, which include the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Zambia Railways Limited, and the Mozambican Ports and Rail Company, are starting to work much closer together as they have realised that they all are part of the total supply chain. Collaboration between these rail operators is therefore vital.”

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE