Friday 31 May 2024

The 3rd African Rail Digital Congress held in Yaoundé, Cameroon

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The 3rd African Rail Digital Congress took place on 28-30 May 2024 dealing with the topic “Digital: a challenge to boost the railway value chain”. The event was hosted by the Cameroon Railways (CAMRAIL) and UIC in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and presented a great opportunity for more than 300 participants from 23 different countries of the continent to come together.

Held under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Cameroon, Paul Biya, the congress was opened by Joseph Dion Ngute, the country’s Prime Minister, who thanked UIC for its initiative and stressed the importance of using digitisation to transform the railway sector and boost the value chain in Africa.

The 1st congress, held in Cape Town in 2019, was organised by UIC to open the discussion on new opportunities for train users and rail operators. The 2nd edition was then held in Tunis in October 2022, where a “roadmap for tomorrow” was established.

In his welcome speech, Christian Chavanel, UIC Director of the Rail System Department and coordinator of the UIC Africa Region, noted that the 2-day congress would allow focus to be drawn to vital topics, including:

  • Digital transformation as a major driving force for the African Union’s Agenda 2063
  • Financing digital innovation in the rail sector as a key issue
  • Consider digitisation across the entire rail value chain in Africa

He noted that UIC works on many digitalisation-oriented topics, such as the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), the Open Sales and Distribution Model (OSDM), drone inspections, Digital Automatic Coupling, and predictive maintenance based on artificial intelligence.

Speaking on behalf of UIC Africa’s Chair, Mohamed Khlie, Mohamed Belarbi explained that rail must become the backbone of land mobility, both for passengers and goods.

The congress showed that the digital world is everywhere. Artificial intelligence is making rapid progress, and will in the future extend to all areas of the rail industry, playing an important role in the maintenance and inspection of installations and rolling stock, rail traffic management and planning, safety, the security of people and property, and so on.

The congress also provided an opportunity to explain the current state of and the prospects for artificial intelligence in the rail sector.

A technical visit was organised on 27 May 2024 in Douala, where the participants visited the Douala workshop, one of the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, and took the train back from Duala to Yaoundé.

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