Our Integrated Model

Partnering in Mobility, Delivering Prosperity
An integrated Transport and Logistics Infrastructure and solutions model

Thelo Group builds strategic partnerships to optimise Africa’s Transport and Logistics value chain, to deliver integrated infrastructure and holistic solutions with strong commercial returns and high development impact.

Thelo plays a holistic and strategic role in the development, operation and management of regional corridors.

  • A fully integrated, fit-for-purpose transport and logistic model for Africa
  • Driven by a trusted, independent African partner
  • With a strategic role in the development, operation and management of regional development corridors

Bankable projects

  • Thelo has a track record of raising project preparation funding to develop rail infrastructure opportunities, anchored on off-takes by freight owners.
  • Thelo has successfully mobilised equity and raised debt (including from commercial banks) for leasing transactions.

Infrastructure finance

  • Thelo provides commercial solutions to regional operators and or governments (with weak balance sheets and limited sovereign support), through its innovative Rail Management Agreement (RMA) or Ports Management Agreement (PMA) model.
  • With a history of deploying DFI funding to unlock opportunities.

Technical expertise

  • Driven by a highly experienced and proven team with deep expertise in the sector and over 100 years of combined experience and through strategic exclusive partnerships.
  • Thelo has the technical know-how and capacity to develop integrated infrastructure projects.

Freight capacity

  • Thelo Rolling Stock has over USD 90m of leasing projects currently under management, with the pipeline to become the leading rolling stock financier and asset manager in Africa.

Operational efficiency

  • Thelo Group’s track record of delivering financial and operational performance is underpinned by long-term leases.
  • Global best practice brought to bear through Thelo’s strategic partnership with Deutsche Bahn and other Strategic Partners.

Sustainability & innovation

  • Strong and well-defined growth drivers which support the company’s competitive advantage.
  • Innovative RMA & PMA project structuring mechanism.
  • Driving innovation in green transport through key projects.

Providing a truly African strategic position in continental logistics

  • Thelo is an African industrial group with strategic local and international partners, leveraging global expertise and capital to catalyse trade, while supporting economic development.
  • Thelo is an integrated African infrastructure company, providing solutions for projects, developers, operators and freight owners.
  • Significant B-BBEE credentials and a value-add partner to international partners and Governments.

Addressing market failures

We have combined our track record, capabilities and expertise in a direct response to address the key market failures on in the Transport & Logistics sector in Africa:

Infrastructure and institutional gap

A lack of local beneficiation and industrial processing perpetuates colonial export patterns, where natural resources are exported as raw materials to other continents. This creates an investment ‘poverty’ cycle, where rail and rolling stock investments remain constrained while local beneficiation and production capacity remains unjustifiable due to the lack of connectivity between African markets. Africa’s $130–170 billion annual infrastructure financing gap is widely cited, however, Africa’s transport infrastructure gap, estimated at $20 – 28 billion per annum, has significantly hampered trade and regional industrialisation.

Shortage of bankable, investment-ready projects

Regional development corridors are inherently multi-sectoral and cross-boundary in nature, often spanning geographies, jurisdictions, and land tenures. The complex legal, regulatory, and stakeholder landscapes complicate the securement of development rights for transport projects. This can lead to lengthy project development cycles, while multiple rounds of regulatory approvals and financing drive up development costs.

Furthermore, this multi-sectoral landscape necessitates integration across a broad stakeholder universe, including governments, regulators and financiers, communities, businesses, and non-governmental organisations.

Lack of technical expertise

Gaps in technical competencies, expertise, and capacity create bottlenecks, weaken trust, and undermine the effectiveness of rail, rolling stock and port operators on the continent. Over and above the skills shortage in most African countries, the transport and logistics sector also suffers from the lack of technical experience and institutional knowledge due to the erosion of the workforce as local, experienced individuals enter retirement.

As a specialised and highly technical industry, regional development corridors require special skills in planning, engineering, operations and management. Only a few trusted, experienced providers have seen success on the continent, leading to a lack of localised best practice solutions.

Freight capacity constraints

Freight capacity in Africa is hampered by a lack of rolling stock and shortages in fuel and containers. These constraints, in combination with operator inefficiencies and safety concerns, have hamstrung evacuation capacity for strategic minerals and agricultural produce. This has implications for strategic trade and food security.

There is thus a clear case for sustainable freight transport across the continent. Local and regional railway networks across SADC, and in the rest of the continent, typically experience the following commercial challenges:

  • Inconsistent service offerings to customers, including pricing models.
  • The administrative complexity for rail services far outweighs that of competing road solutions.
  • Goods departure, transit, and arrival times are excessive (compared to road) and unpredictable, introducing cost and supply chain risks.

Operational inefficiencies

African rail and port corridors are fraught with technical and operational challenges, leading to widescale failures among national rail and port operators. Most African countries are saddled with outdated, ageing, and poorly maintained infrastructure and rolling stock. Furthermore, the oversight and maintenance of locomotives requires specialised technical capacity, which prove to be burdensome on weak national balance sheets.

A significant challenge to optimising Africa’s vast commodity exports lies in the historical inconsistency of rail gauges across the continent resulting in insufficient connectivity and interoperability. This lack of interoperability creates logistical hurdles. Countries often have fragmented regulations and control systems which slows down the implementation of a standardised approach to connectivity efforts.

Sustainability and innovation pressures

A just transition aims to achieve a low-carbon future while protecting vulnerable communities and fostering economic development. Railways, while generally more efficient than road transport, still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Modernisation efforts must prioritise clean technologies with the aim of achieving emissions reductions and enabling just climate transitions.

With a few exceptions, African railways lag behind most other regions in the world in terms of technology and digital transformation. Increasing sensitivity towards environmental and safety issues will result in railways getting more public attention and social support; thus, modern technology is needed in railway development to ensure efficient carriage.

No truly African strategic player in continental logistics

Last, but not least, there is no truly African strategic player in continental logistics. With increasing foreign acquisitions of critical rail and port infrastructure, the region faces key strategic risks, including the effective implementation of the AfCFTA, loss of control over Africa’s development corridors and integration ambitions, the ability to maintain user and freight independence along rail corridors, and the threat to localised skill development and industrial beneficiation and processing.