Namibia looks at port expansion as trade grows

2012-10-21 10:00
Philip Shingirai
Namibia is expanding its Walvis Bay port as it plans to compete with South African ports to be the preferred entry point to southern Africa.

The country, which already has two ports, Luderitz and Walvis Bay, has seen an increase in the level of cargo handled since last year.

This after the Walvis Bay corridor started catering for landlocked nations including Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These states now ship their goods through Namibian ports.

The port extension will include a new container terminal and an extended docking facility for larger vessels, although the
Namibian authorities expect the extension to have a 300 square kilometre facility.

The country’s permanent secretary in its trade and industry ministry, Malan Lindeque, said the Walvis Bay expansion will come at an estimated cost of R3 billion and is set to be completed by the end of 2015.

He said: “The government has already nominated a Chinese company to do the actual construction and we expect this to really improve our business links with other countries in the region.

“The building of a new port extension has been necessitated by the fact that the Namibia trans-connection network with countries such as the DRC, Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana is growing at a very fast rate. This is a great thing in making sure of
intra-Africa trade.”

According to Lindeque, the rapid growth of Walvis Bay is improving business flow within the nations. He added: “We are not necessarily in a competition with South Africa and Mozambique, but the Namibian economy has been growing drastically. We have also been lucky that the country has been luring international investment.”

Commenting on the expectations of the Walvis Bay port, Namibian economist and researcher Robin Sherbourne said the growth in terminals will give the country a competitive edge against South Africa’s Durban port, which has been the hub of the southern
African region for the better part of five decades.

“Considering the fact there is an influx of second-hand cars that have been imported from the UK by countries like Zimbabwe and Zambia, it is actually a good thing that the country now has a plan to expand. Traditionally, Namibia and South Africa have had very close ties but trade has been pretty much one-sided.

“The fact that the Namibian government is now taking an initial step towards boosting its ports is commendable and it is also a lucrative venture,” said Sherbourne.

Research done by NamPort, a state-owned entity that runs the ports, has said Walvis Bay and Luderitz, near the border with South Africa, are no longer sustainable as business has been on the increase.

But NamPort chief executive Basy Uirab was diplomatic, and said the plan has been in the pipeline for years.

“The issue is that while Namibia will stand to benefit immensely from extended operations through another port, it must be kept in mind that the move does not have a direct impact on the operations of other ports in the country,” Uirab said.

Namibia, with a population of about 1.2 million, has been enjoying rapid economic growth thanks to a relatively friendly foreign investment attitude and a stable political setup.

– CAJ News