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COMESA is in a process of setting up a modern railway technology known as the Futran System. This is an automated system that can take a payload of up to 10 tons. Initial testing of the system is currently bring done with a 3-ton payload at the Milotek external test facility in South Africa.

The development of the Futran System is intended to address the need for a new class of cost effective large-scale transportation system in Africa and in the COMESA region. It is particularly targeted in part at densely populated cities.

A South African Engineer Andries Louw developed the technology over the last four years. It has now been tested and improved and ready for commercial use. The system has attracted massive interest from across the continent.

COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya witnessed a demonstration of the technology, at Brits, Johannesburg on Saturday 12 August 2017. He described the system as a game-changer for transportation in the region and beyond.

“The system brings on board a lot of benefits to the transport system,” he said. “It is not only convenient but also has the potential to generate revenue through power production from its solar panels.”

The objectives of his mission were to gain an understanding of the new railway technology, appreciate the financial, economic, social and environmental benefits and explore the potential of its adoption and use in the COMESA region.

Fultran’s system, can generate one Megawatt per of power per kilometer which can be fused into the national grid hence further reducing the cost of doing business.

“This system’s advantages include being a low-cost carrier, low fuel consumption, less gas emission compared to other modes, bulk carrier, low external costs, reduces congestion and has a better safety record,” Mr. Ngwenya said.

He said that the Secretariat will present the proposal to the COMESA Council of Ministers for consideration as a possible legacy project for Member States.

The system developer Andries Louw said the technology is intended to address the technological challenges of railways. It will respond to the need for sustainable transport, both in terms of the track and operating equipment which can be deployed in the COMESA region.

“Futran was created to address the urgent need for a new class of cost effective large scale transportation systems in Africa which is environmentally friendly and with low maintenance costs,” Mr. Louw said.

Once implemented the Futran System shall provide efficient, cost effective, transportation for the goods from production points to market places at very low costs.