… Namibia’s recommitment to advancing the transport sector
By Hilary Mare
ONE of the most distinct national planning frameworks is that Namibia is currently busy with the implementation of NDP4, and one of the desired outcomes stipulated in this plan, which is a roadmap of Namibia up to 2016/17, is to enable Namibia to take a sizeable share of the regional logistics and distribution market.
To support this ideology, the contents of the draft master plan for a Namibia-based international hub for Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries outlines and showcases great potential for what can become of Namibia’s industrial edge coupled with wide possibilities of success.
Roads, ports and other transport related infrastructure investments remain a priority for countries within the SADC region to improve their competitiveness in linking them to global markets and as such Namibia has reassured SADC of its desire to advance its logistics and transport sector and become the logistics hub in the region particularly with the development that has been made on Namibia’s corridor routes.
“Namibia is serious about advancing its logistics and transport sector,” Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus !Naruseb told stakeholders at the Walvis Bay Corridor Group’s ‘Beyond Borders’ information session in Johannesburg last week.
In essence, Namibia places great emphasis on the enhancement of infrastructure to link the country with the rest of the region politically, socially and economically. The Logistics and Infrastructure Sector is a very important enabler with a multiplier effect that cuts across all economic sectors of any given country. The aim is to develop Namibia into a regional transport turntable for SADC. Significant investment has been made to upgrade Namibia’s transport infrastructure and Port of Walvis Bay to meet international standards.
What started off as a ‘Namibian initiative’ is continuing to align itself with the region with the active involvement and participation in regional committees such as the TransKalahari Corridor Management Committee and the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor which allows for effective improvement of the enabling frameworks for cross border logistic operations along the Corridor routes.
“We are making the Walvis Bay Corridor efficient because of the
unique Public Private Partnership existing between Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, which have been instrumental to identify and resolve hurdles to trade along the corridors. Through this partnership our three Governments of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa continue to work on the betterment of the transport infrastructure along these corridors. As such the corridor contributes towards intra-SADC and global competitiveness, thus integrating our economies into the global economy.
“We believe that in terms of heavy traffic flow, extended transit time and congestion, an alternative route and port are definitely an option. The aim of developing the Walvis Bay Corridors does not lie in competing with other Southern African ports and transport infrastructure, but rather to complement them.
“The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) continues to look for new projects and opportunities and there is also scope for private enterprise to further develop transport, logistics and distribution solutions. For us the future focus will be to build Namibia’s logistics up and approaching international investors such a forwarders and bringing them to Namibia so that they can see how they can set up distribution warehouses for further expansion throughout the region,” Johny Smith, CEO of the WBCG said.
As the business for the Port of Walvis Bay and the Walvis Bay corridors grow more partnerships within the port industry are being established. There is a plethora of opportunities arising from Namibia transforming itself into a logistics hub. Private companies are encouraged to develop warehousing and distribution facilities along the corridors to offer these services to importers and exporters into southern Africa.
Notably, a report which was commissioned by the Government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and prepared by the southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment revealed that good infrastructure and Namibia’s geographical position gave the country huge potential to become an international logistics and distribution centre in southern Africa.
Of critical importance is the expansion of the Port of Walvis Bay, which needs to be able to accommodate the ocean-liner class of container ships, and make their turnaround time as short as 24 hours. The rail connections to Angola, Botswana and Zambia also need to be completed. In particular, the status of the Trans- Kalahari Railway will must receive urgent attention.
“A PPP funding framework, involving all critical stakeholders – including commercial banks – will be crafted to encourage private sector participation in financing infrastructure projects. The private sector can also be involved by making concessions to some of the global giants in respect of the various modes of transport available.
“The Walvis Bay Corridor Group can be transformed from an entity that focuses on Walvis Bay Corridor to one that will consolidate the coordinated public and private sector efforts to make Namibia a regional logistics hub.
“Government will continue to pursue various international and bilateral agreements in setting one-stop border posts to ensure the flow of cross-border trade is as efficient as possible, and to address sabotage concerns,”outlined the National PlanningCommission in view of the Logistics Hub. As a developmental factor, aggressive investment will characterise efforts to develop internal human resources capacity in order to manage all the components of the regional logistics hub and attract foreign skills. These efforts will include operating through international support programmes such as donor funding and/or aid for trade to supplement and strengthen existing human resource and physical capacities. In addition, a sector-specific plan may be drafted to attract foreign experts, and to ensure skills are retained by transferring them to Namibians. Namibia will also be aggressively marketed as the logistics hub of choice for southern and central Africa. The draft master plan also warns of other adversaries that may impact the birth of the logistics hub with keen interest to unknown risks. “Even though there are problems associated with the main gateways used at present – Durban and Dar es Salaam – Namibia’s logistics sector is still an unknown risk for international businesspeople. “Implementation of the project is likely to cause both positive and negative impacts on the natural and socioeconomic environments of Namibia. This strategic Environmental Assessment is being conducted to identify such impacts and toincorporate possible measures to mitigate negative impacts of the masterplan,” the report says. Without very little doubt, the corridors of Namibia present wide ranging opportunities in setting Namibia apart as the logistics hub of southern Africa.
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