GE transportation is a division of general electric they manufacture equipment for marine mining and railways as well the company says involved in more than 15 major well project across Africa and they’ve announced African investment of more than 45 billion dollars in just the past five years

Russell Stokes is the president and CEO of that division he’s been with GE for 16 years and he was appointed to the position in 2013.

Stokes was recently in South Africa where GE is supplying more than 200 new locomotives.

I met him at the energy transportation headquarters in Chicago to see what he thought about rail operations on the continent.

So you went to visit South Africa. we certainly toward the rail yards. what do you think are the biggest needs in terms of the rail industry in South Africa?

I think is continuing to build out the actual infrastructure ultimately even to be able to run a locomotive you need good track so what you’re seeing right now is a big investment in some of the different countries in terms of putting in that actual track infrastructure and then you also have to make sure that if you’re selling a locomotive and country that you can service and take care of it

so you need to make sure you’re putting money into the maintenance facilities, the sheds, the support infrastructure, to be able to service them and keep them running.

let’s talk about jobs because there’s going to be a number of jobs created through this — both direct job, indirect jobs, temporary and permanent. do we know how many permanent jobs ge is going to help create

The estimates have been that we’re looking at 5,000 jobs that will be created across the extended supply chain. The newest tender that we won which is 233 out of their total 1064 actually has a 50-percent 25-percent local requirement so we’re working actively to be able to find those suppliers. there’s a requirement around the black participation within the supply base inside a mess we’re paying a lot of attention like that okay make sure that we train them bring their skills up to standard so we can use their components on the local models that are built in country

it’s not just South Africa where you’re investing in rail infrastructure you also looking at Angola and Mozambique so what determines which countries you invested in terms of rail infrastructure

yes so good amount of it is really the government making rail investment a priority and understanding what it could mean if you were to look at right now

since to 2002 2011 exports grew quadruple episode from 100 billion to 400 billion. 75-percent of that was brand new rail infrastructure is desperately needed absolutely able to move that now part of what you find as well as that for some of the landlocked countries if you look at the amount of cost associated with moving something by truck versus by rail you could actually have a much more significant amount of cost that gets into the ultimate final cost of the part of component almost seventy percent add her to your costs by moving something by trusting instead of by row and it is about the further industrialization of Africa

As an example the Chinese,the Kazakhs, the Russians and the Latvian, Lithuanian that are trying to figure out how to connect from the western coast of China all the way through and to Europe where they do now is actually take both to take 45 days coming down under South Africa to get over to into Europe if they can go across the road they think they can do it in 15 days just think about the perishables you can say that the lower inventory that you have to have inside of the supply chain my same thing could happen with Africa will revolutionize transportation and beyond and go that mozambique South Africa are there any other countries you guys really want to get invested in

absolutely so nigeria obviously so given out big I mean it’s the biggest economy that there is little time number of people yeah lots of natural resources that need lots of us yeah so you look at two interesting statistic South Africa actually moves twenty percent of their free by rail using 2000 locomotives nigeria moves point2 percent with about 35 do that it’s the infrastructure to continuing to invest in the infrastructure bringing it back to New investing in maintenance so that you can make sure that those local motors continue to run so about lot of attention is really being focused and decisions are being made investments are being made right now this 45 billion dollars of investments that are being made in rural infrastructure across the country ok so it is an exciting time but it will take time to get there Russell Stokes of GE Transportation they’re learning sounds like a lot of African countries on the fast track to success in the rail industry.

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