Transitioning SA's Petrochemical Value Chain


Effective and accessible transport systems are critical to sustaining economic activity and socio-economic improvement. South Africa has the most developed transport and logistics sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, supported by relatively modern infrastructure to enable the effective movement of goods and services. However, in the past two decades rail and port infrastructure in particular has been poorly maintained. As a result, commercial/freight transport is mostly via road using heavy vehicles, with the high use of road freight vehicles contributing to GHG emissions and exacerbated degradation of roads and consequently rising maintenance costs.

Maritime shipping and air trade are critical to trade and the economy, with 98% of imported and exported goods being shipped by sea. In terms of passenger transport, the majority of South Africans are reliant on public transport (Civil Society Engagement), particularly minibus taxis (which make up nearly 70%), buses (20%) and trains (10%). Domestic and international passenger air travel both play an important part in the country’s economy, and are expected to grow substantially in the future.

At the same time, the transport sector is the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions , from the combustion of liquid fuels. The sector is responsible for 10.8% of annual GHG emissions, 91% of which is from road and rail transport. 27% of transport emissions come from passenger vehicles, followed by light and heavy commercial vehicles (22% and 16% respectively).  Aviation constitutes 8% of transport emissions, whilst rail and maritime shipping’s contributions remaining relatively low (1%). The sector has been identified by the President as being a major focus for South Africa’s decarbonisation planning.