Walvis Bay, the SADC gateway
Windhoek – Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) will start the construction of a R1.5 billion-dollar bulk fuel storage facility next year in a phased construction of new port facilities called North Port, aimed at servicing landlocked Southern African countries.
Namport management told The Southern Times that R1.5 billion, which is meant to finance the first phase of North Port, also known as SADC Gateway Port, will be provided by the Namibian government.
The North Port is being built on 1 330 hectares of land at a cost of R30 billion. It is aimed at positioning Namibia as a key import and export hub for the country’s eastern neighbours, landlocked Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The development of the new port facilities is in line with SADC’s stated goals of boosting infrastructure development to smoothen the flow of goods and services across the region.
With a relatively low population of around 2.2 million and therefore a small market, Namibia hopes investing in much larger port facilities to service a market of more than 300 million in the wider SADC region will position Walvis Bay as an import and export hub.
Namport CEO, Bisey /Uirab, said that government has agreed to kick-start North Port construction by availing R1.5 billion to build a fuel jetty and storage facilities, which can service fuel importers across SADC.
“Financing for the fuel off-loading jetty and the storage facilities, which is the first phase of the North Port, will be provided by the Namibian government. Construction will start next year and will take up to three years to complete,” /Uirab said.
“We are using a phased approach to building North Port and therefore capital for other phases will come from various sources. We will seek financing as we develop the rest of the port but we are hoping that the private sector can play a significant role in this development,” he added.
A planned dry bulk cargo terminal, which can handle up to 100 million tonnes per year at the North Port is strategic to landlocked Botswana, which wants to haul coal by rail from its coal fields in the eastern parts of the country to Walvis Bay, en-route to Asian markets particularly China, India and Japan.
“We are potentially looking at the coal from Botswana, it’s one of the reasons we are investing in a much larger dry bulk cargo terminal. And of course, the mineral potential of Namibia is also an important consideration,” /Uirab said.
This would however depend on the speed at which the Trans-Kalahari Railway line, which is expected to provide a direct link between Botswana and Namibian ports, will be built.
Another key market would come from Namibia’s future coal and iron ore mining projects whilst the potential for a Namibian oil find is a compelling case for investing in much larger port facilities, /Uirab explained.
“And hopefully we can get good news on oil drilling currently going on in Namibia,” /Uirab added.
Namport management says that North Port would have to be fast-tracked.
“The reality in our country, our neighbours have pushed us to the extent that we must now fast-track the SADC Gateway Port. One is because of the speed-up of the TransKalahari railway project to export coal from Botswana.
“We also know what is happening offshore with the oil drilling and have seen the preliminary results and we have to get ready for all these new developments,” /Uirab said.
The North Port will also comprise of a world class ship and rig repair yard, car import and passenger terminal.
“We are positioning for the SADC market. Namibia is a population of more than two million and we are strategically saying our ultimate market is SADC,” Elias Mwenyo, Namport manager for sales and services told The Southern Times.
“We have no choice but to up our game…Namibia itself does not have that demand, we have to provide services to our neighbouring countries. That’s why we are able to expand and punch above our weight,” Christian Faure, Namport’s marketing executive also said.
Namport also said that construction of a R3 billion terminal at deep water port of Walvis Bay will start before year end. The new is aimed at expanding capacity to more than 1 million containers a year from current levels of around 350 000 containers, Mwenyo said.