South Africa embraces sustainable transport and last-mile delivery solutions

In a recent interview on the "What's Treading" podcast sponsored by Michelin, Abdool Kamdar, CEO of Green Transport and a net zero activist, talked about green transport and the possibilities of achieving net zero in the transport sector.

"Global trade and e-commerce are booming, and with these shifts, the transport sector's historical conservatism must give way to innovation," said Kamar. With the rise of digital platforms, he foresees a major transformation in how transport operates. "The integration of these platforms is not merely about keeping pace but about pioneering new frontiers for efficiency and customer service."

In a world where immediacy is prized, Kamar's highlighted the potential of drone technology. He describes witnessing a drone-equipped minibus in Europe dispatching parcels for last-mile deliveries. "It is a glimpse into the near future," he said, "where drones manage smaller transport tasks, from delivering pizzas to transferring critical medical samples. However, with such advancement comes challenges, such as airspace management and potential drone hijackings."

Yet, for all the promise of the skies, there is a reality to address: the ecological footprint of transport. Kamar is forthright about the challenges. "Targets like zero emissions by 2050 are ambitious. But if we are to ensure a sustainable future, it is an ambition we must strive for." He points to Green Transport's goal of zero emissions by 2040 as an indicator of what is achievable.

Diving deeper into sustainability, Kamar talked about the potential within the transport sector itself, such as the selection of tyres. "Simple choices, like tyre type, can lead to an 8% reduction in fuel consumption," he said, emphasising the immediate benefits in terms of both cost and the environment.

Discussing reports on climate pathways, Kamar does not shy away from questioning certain industry trajectories, particularly when it comes to hydrogen fuel cell trucks.

"Though some reports advocate for their efficiency, our calculations suggest otherwise. We need to carefully evaluate all options, ensuring we are not blinded by what merely 'sounds' innovative."

Education, Kamar argues, is key. From ensuring drivers understand the importance of reducing idling time to training them in fuel-efficient driving methods, there is potential for immediate impact. “Drivers are the industry's backbone. Equipping them with knowledge is equivalent to upgrading our fleet," he pointed out.

He further highlighted a unique relationship between industry and academia in South Africa. "Centres like the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight act as bridges, providing actionable, research-backed insights. Collaborative initiatives like these are crucial."

He admitted that the country now stands at a crossroads.

“Ahead of us lie incredible technological possibilities, ecological responsibilities, and new operational paradigms. We are not just adapting; we are leading the charge into a new age of transport."

Listeners can tune into the "What's Treading" podcast where Kamdar further explains the transition to a green sector.