By Magreth Nunuhe
Swakopmund – Namibia’s development objective is to make the deep harbour at Walvis Bay a preferred west coast port in Africa and the preferred corridor to southern and central African logistics operations, Tom Alweendo, the Namibian Minister of Economic Planning has said.
In a statement read by his deputy, Lucia Iipumbu, at the Eighth Annual Logistics and Transport Workshop in Swakopmund on Wednesday, Alweendo said significant progress has been made in that regard under the leadership of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, which has engraved itself as an efficient and preferred port for logistics operations.
The Walvis Bay Corridor Group connects Southern Africa to the rest of the world and part of their five-year strategic plan has been to facilitate the growth of abnormal load transporters and project cargo through Walvis Bay.
Alweendo, who is also the Director General of the National Planning Commission noted that Namibia is strategically positioned to function as a trade route to and from the entire region and to realise that vision, the country needs to have an excellent transport infrastructure.
“Our efforts are therefore aimed at ensuring excellent transport network that is enhancing our comparative advantages that are in line with our industrialisation agenda,” he said.
Alweendo further noted that Namibia’s International Logistic Hub Master Plan, which is part of the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4) whose desired outcome is for the country to become a regional leader in logistics and distribution, also aims to help Namibia realise its potential based on fast and safe logistics that connect the world with the region, especially land-locked countries.
The National Logistics Master Plan provides a detailed future image of Namibia as an international logistics and distribution centre and identifies key policy measures and actions to be taken to promote logistics industries operating in the country as well as invite further logistics industries to invest.
“It is pointless to have a highly developed infrastructure, while associated activities are ineffective and inefficient. In developing the logistics hub concept in Namibia, it is important to emphasise the importance of the soft side – reliability and consistency in delivering services, quicker and faster response, minimum damage to products and delays,” stressed Alweendo.
He said that the transport and logistics infrastructure will remain a key component of the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5).
Transport infrastructure, Alweendo added, is also fundamental to Namibia’s economic and development strategy.
According to Alweendo, there is need for fundamental change to infrastructure funding and investment in transport and logistics since placing the burden solely on government’s shoulders was too “harsh and pessimistic”.
“It entails that we must be prepared to attempt new approaches of infrastructure funding to achieve our vision,” he said, adding that it was necessary for all stakeholders, particularly the private sector to contribute in shaping and configuring NDP5.
Walvis Bay is connected with good shipping services that provide an option for shippers from Europe and North America to supply bulk, containerised and break bulk shipments such as abnormal loads to neighbouring countries in the Southern African region in the shortest possible time and has also become an important node for Southern Africa as minerals through the port from DRC and Zambia increase.
The heavy-lift port facilities at Walvis Bay remove the requirements for road permits or abnormal clearances between the quayside and the storage yard which streamlines the process for customers.
Cargo can be received in a direct discharge area for relocation to a dedicated heavy load storage and handling area, which is then off-loaded to temporary storage and loaded onto transport trailers as required.