South Africa Freight Transport Report

Providing expert analysis, independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on the freight transport industry.

Report includes: BMI Industry View, Industry SWOT Analysis, Industry Forecasts, Freight Transport Risk Reward Index, Macroeconomic Forecast, Company Profiles and Regional and Country Industry Overviews.

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South Africa Freight Transport Report
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BMI View : Our forecasts for the South African freight transport sector are positive across all modes in 2016 - air, road, rail, and through the country's ports, despite challenging external and domestic headwinds which will continue to weigh on economic growth over the coming years. The China slowdown in particular will continue to weigh heavy on the economy and in turn on freight transport volumes through the mining sector in particular.

Headline Industry Data

  • Rail freight growth will be 3.1% in 2016, to 232.03mn tonnes. In 2017, growth will be 3.3%.

  • Road freight volumes are set to expand by 4.6% in 2016, to 619.32mn tonnes. Growth will be 5.8% in 2017.

  • Air freight volumes will expand by 2.2% to 1.57mn tonnes in 2016. Growth will be 2.5% in 2017.

  • 2016 total trade real growth is forecast at 4.3%. In nominal terms, growth will expand by 0.8% to USD211.32bn. Nominal growth will continue in 2017 at 4.9%, with trade value rising to USD221.7bn.

We forecast positive growth across South Africa's freight transport modes, despite a poor outlook for the economy. That said, the growth will be far from spectacular, with those freight modes aimed squarely at consumers - air freight in particular - set to suffer most as the rand's ongoing depreciation against the US dollar will impact upon household spending power.

According to our projections, road freight volumes in South Africa will expand by 4.6% in 2016, which would mark an acceleration on our estimated growth rate for 2015, 3.1%. Nevertheless, this remains far below the 8.2% growth registered in 2014, and we see little scope for growth to reach these heights again within our medium-term forecast period to 2019. The South African economy is being buffeted by external headwinds and internal labour disputes, and both bulk volumes and containerised volumes will have impediments to growth.

We expect that growth in rail freight volumes will accelerate in 2016, thanks to a somewhat brighter outlook for the coal mining sector. We believe that new coal projects and positive fundamentals regarding the rail freight sector itself will keep growth positive, despite ominous headwinds from the China slowdown and a stagnating South African economy. Nevertheless, there are other potential pitfalls, stemming not least from domestic politics.

Air freight will be the underperformer in growth terms in South Africa's freight mix in 2016. The sector is more exposed to the South African consumer, as opposed to the mining sector and mineral exports, and so will be more susceptible to our projected fall in household spending power than road or rail freight.

BMI Industry View
Freight Transport
Operational Risk
Industry Forecast
Trade Forecast
Table: Trade Overview (South Africa 2012-2019)
Table: Key Trade Indicators (South Africa 2012-2019)
Table: Main Import Partners
Table: Main Export Partners
Road Freight Forecast
Table: Road Freight (South Africa 2012-2019)
Rail Freight Forecast
Table: Rail Freight (South Africa 2012-2019)
Air Freight Forecast
Table: Air Freight (South Africa 2012-2019)
Market Overview
Company Profile
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR)
Political Outlook
Domestic Politics
Long-Term Political Outlook
Table: South Africa Political Overview
Oil Price Outlook
Global - Crude Oil, Refined Fuels And Natural Gas Prices, 10-Year Forecasts
Table: Energy Price Forecasts (Global 2013-2018)
Table: Energy Price Forecasts (Global 2019-2024)
Macroeconomic Forecasts
Economic Analysis
Table: Economic Activity (South Africa 2010-2019)
Demographic Forecast
Demographic Outlook
Table: Population Headline Indicators (South Africa 1990-2025)
Table: Key Population Ratios (South Africa 1990-2025)
Table: Urban/Rural Population & Life Expectancy (South Africa 1990-2025)
Table: Population By Age Group (South Africa 1990-2025)
Table: Population By Age Group % (South Africa 1990-2025)
Industry Forecast Methodology
Sector-Specific Methodology

The South Africa Freight Transport Report has been researched at source, and features latest-available data covering commercial transport and logistics by road, rail, air and water; industry forecasts, company rankings covering leading national and multinational operators; and analysis of latest industry trends, opportunities, projects and regulatory changes.

BMI Research's South Africa Freight Transport Report provides industry professionals and strategists, sector analysts, investors, trade associations and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on the South African freight transport and logistics industry.

Key Benefits

  • Benchmark BMI's independent freight transport industry forecasts on South Africa to test other views - a key input for successful budgetary and planning in the strategic freight transport market.
  • Target business opportunities and risks in the South African freight transport sector through our reviews of latest industry trends, regulatory changes and major deals, projects and investments in South Africa.
  • Assess the activities, strategy and market position of your competitors, partners and clients via our Company Profiles (inc. SWOTs, KPIs, and latest activity).


BMI Industry View

Summary of BMI’s key industry forecasts, views and trend analysis covering freight transport and logistics, regulatory changes, major investments and projects and significant national and multinational company developments.

Industry SWOT Analysis

Analysis of the major strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the freight transport sector and within the broader political, economic and business environment.

BMI Industry Forecasts

Historic data series (2008-2012) and forecasts to end-2019 for all key industry and economic indicators (see list below), supported by explicit assumptions plus analysis of key downside risks to the main forecast including:

  • Transport Sector: Total freight carried by road, rail, inland waterways, maritime, air and pipeline (mn tonnes-km/mn tonnes).
  • Trade: Exports and imports (USDmn) by category of goods (manufactured goods, food, chemicals etc.); top five import and export trade partners (USDmn); imports/exports to each global region (USDmn)
  • Port Data: Throughput (‘000 tonnes) for all major ports in the state.
  • Oil Products Prices: Price forecasts for gasoline and aviation fuel (USD/bbl) at all major global energy trading hubs.
  • Economic Indicators: Nominal GDP (USDbn); real GDP growth (%); GDP per capita (USD); industrial production (%); unemployment (%)

Market Overview

Details of the freight infrastructure in each state by segment (road, rail, air, water and pipelines). Full analysis of the competitive landscape within each segment.

Industry Trends and Developments

Analysis of the latest projects across the freight transport sector (road, rail, air, sea and logistics) including a market overview which provides an outline of the key elements driving development.

Political Outlook

The Freight Transport market reports contain a chapter detailing the political outlook of a given region, examining the domestic politics, long-term outlook and foreign policy, and assessing the impact this could have on freight and transport businesses.

Company Profiles*

Examines the short- to medium-term business strategies of key industry players. Strategy is examined within the context of BMI’s industry forecasts, our macroeconomic views and our understanding of the wider competitive landscape to generate company SWOT analyses.

The latest financial and operating statistics and key company developments are also incorporated within the company profiles, enabling a full evaluation of recent company performance and future growth prospects.


The Freight Transport reports draw on an extensive network of primary sources, such as multilateral organisations, government departments, industry associations, chambers and company reports

*Company profiles are not available for every country. Those reports instead contain information on the current activities of prominent companies operating in the market.