The 2023 Road Freight SME Summit was held on 20-21 October at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton and enjoyed a highly successful début, with topics delivering to the needs of the audience and the broader trucking sector with industry specialists, government department heads, and academia occupying the speaker platform.
Targeting small fleet owners with 5 to 100 trucks on the road, topics covered included critical success factors for road freight SMEs; safety and compliance; the transportation of mining commodities, industry trends on effective and efficient fleet management; the complexities of securing funding for trucking SMEs in South Africa, and various topics about the next step towards growing a business.
Rirhandzu Mashava, Deputy Director General: Integrated Transport Planning at the Department of Transport (DOT), gave the keynote address, pointing out that 90% of the more than 100,000 businesses active in the road freight sector are SMEs. They had a significant impact on the economic landscape, she said. “These SMEs are not merely businesses; they are job creators and contributors to the national economy. The Summit’s primary focus is to provide an enabling platform for these SMEs to scale up and take their businesses to the next level.”
JC Auditors’ Managing Director Oliver Naidoo said that a primary focus of the Summit was raising awareness of safe systems as a key building block for SME road freight businesses. “If we are to address South Africa's poor road safety record, there is a need for impactful initiatives to promote safe and compliant fleets on our roads.”
Mashava highlighted opportunities created by technology. “The rise of technology and digital platforms has provided SMEs in the road freight sector with enhanced opportunities for growth and success. Digital platforms enable them to streamline operations, optimise routes, and offer real-time tracking and customer support. This allows SMEs to compete effectively with larger established companies and provide efficient and reliable services to their clients.”
Managing Director of SME company Atarah Solutions, Lehlohonolo Mpshe said of the Summit: “Frank talk, insightful, enjoyable, thought-provoking - and commitments were made!”
Sinethemba Cobo of Isuzu Motors said the Summit made him appreciate the company’s support for the sector and re-evaluate how he influences change. He added: “These are the platforms that SMEs require to connect, work together and make a difference.”
Annah Ngxeketo CEO of Mamoja Trading & Projects, found the conversations with industry leaders “insightful”, noting the key learning was to “have a collaborative spirit with other SMEs”.
The inaugural Summit was well supported by industry and support services in the road freight sector and many industry associations also showed support for the event, including the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport: South Africa, Freight Logistics South Africa, the Global Federation of Chambers, The Road Freight Association, SAPICS, the African Women in Supply Chain Association and the SA Express Parcel Association.
Musundwa concluded: “We express enormous gratitude to our stakeholders and the commitment shown by the number of SMEs who attended. We take this as a sincere vote of confidence to run the event again in 2024 – indeed, a number of stakeholders have already pledged their support for our 2024 Road Freight SME Summit.”
Pic: Rirhandzu Mashava, Deputy DG at DOT