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GE And Transnet Share Their Plan To Digitise Africa

Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE and Transnet’s group chief executive officer, Siyabonga Gama at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, Johannesburg.
Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE and Transnet’s group chief executive officer, Siyabonga Gama at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, Johannesburg.



General Electric (GE), the world’s premier digital industrial company, and Transnet, Africa’s largest and most developed rail and ports operator, announced their plan to partner on digitising Africa’s transport sector on 27 January.

Their proposed plan will deliver a digital solution that will seamlessly connect shippers and transport operators, making it dramatically easier for a company to understand pricing and capacity on the network, plan a shipment, and get their goods to market.

Transnet delivers 13,000 containers and 620,000 tonnes of goods that are critical to Africa’s economy, on a daily basis. Africa’s intracontinental trade has nearly doubled since 1995, and the increasing volume of goods moving through the supply chain is creating transportation and logistical complexities that slow down shipments. The digital solution will be enabled by Predix, which is the operating system for GE’s Industrial Internet or Internet of Things (IOT).

The solution will connect shippers and transport operators by providing real-time, data-driven insights on the status of shipments. It will take laborious processes, such as payments, customs and inspections from paper to the digital environment. The system creates an on-demand solution for transporting freight, inspired by consumer on-demand transportation models.

Speaking at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, the chairman and CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt said: “The digital opportunity for industry is now. At GE, we have embraced data and analytics, and see it as a driving force, transforming our operations and those of our customers globally.”

Immelt concluded by stating: “This planned digital partnership with Transnet will be another step forward in how we can work together to improve Africa’s transport sector; delivering efficiency and productivity.”

Transnet’s group chief executive officer, Siyabonga Gama, pointed out that the agreement represents another first for the GE and Transnet partnership, which continues to deliver value to South Africa’s growth strategy - the National Development Plan.

“This digital solution will be critical in optimising freight efficiency and bringing products to market faster and for less cost, across the continent.  The cost of moving goods from point A to point B is very high, which is passed onto the end customer, impeding Africa’s ability to be competitive in pricing.”

Gama stated that the implementation of the digitisation plan would result in businesses being better equipped to meet their customer’s expectations, gain a competitive edge and continue to thrive in today’s robust digital economy.

The planned partnership will further strengthen the relationship that already exists between the two companies, by leveraging on Transnet’s domain experience and expertise with the established GE digital knowledge.

General Electric subsidiary, GE South Africa Technologies (GESAT), started working with Transnet in 2008 on Transnet’s locomotive fleet renewal programme, which is part of its R300 billion capital investment programme – the Market Demand Strategy (MDS). In addition, GESAT and Transnet signed an export agreement in 2014, to jointly manufacture locomotives in South Africa to sell to customers in the African market.

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