Transnet's delivery of 100 salt wagons from its manufacturing plant in the Eastern Cape to Botswana Railways forms part of the state company's plan to accelerate sales of heavy equipment to the rest of Africa, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.
The partnership between Transnet and Botswana Railways signalled "the beginning of the new approach to intra-regional cooperation to drive Africa's economy", Gigaba said at an event to mark the completion of the first batch of wagons at its plant in Uitenhage.
The delivery forms part of an initial 260-wagon order for specialised wagons to transport bulk chemical grade salt from Sua Pan in Botswana to Sasol's factories in South Africa.
Botswana Rail has ordered 562 wagons, all of which are being designed, engineered and produced at the manufacturing plant in Uitenhage.
The Uitenhage plant is one of the largest wagon refurbishment and new-build plants in Africa, employing about 1 500 people.
'Exploiting significant engineering capacity'
"We will exploit Transnet Rail Engineering's significant capacity and competence with regards to heavy engineering, especially in rail and port equipment manufacturing to drive Africa's industrialisation and therefore economic growth," he said.
Transnet also has manufacturing plants in Koedoespoort in Pretoria for locomotives, Salt River in the Western Cape for coaches, wheels and other rolling stock components, and Bloemfontein in the Free State.
"In line with Transnet's commitment to the development of local supplier and supporting industries and the government's economic and developmental objectives, the company - through its competitive supplier development programme - sources most raw materials and components to manufacture the wagons locally," Transnet said.
"If not, these are built in-house."
It is through partnerships such as the one with Botswana Railways that Transnet Rail Engineering is planning to increase its sales to external parties, Gigaba said.
As a way of meeting this target, Gigaba developed an Africa Strategy to guide state-owned companies such as Transnet, South African Airways, Eskom and Denel. Targetted by the strategy are Angola, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania, among others.
The Botswana Railways deal follows the successful execution of 200 wagons supplied to mining giant Rio Tinto in Mozambique. It involved the development of twon new prototype car-transport wagons with adjustable hydraulic top decks.