Master Plan to make Namibia a logistics hub

By Magreth Nunuhe

Windhoek – Namibia has the opportunity to transform itself into an international logistics hub for the SADC Region by 2025 if it can develop an efficient port for transhipment, operation base for storage, efficient transport network, integrated border infrastructure, quality roads and a fully-fledged logistics hub centre at its port of Walvis Bay. 

This is contained in Namibia’s Logistics Master Plan, headed by a team of experts from the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The master plan provides the future image of Namibia as a logistics hub.

The plan’s target is to increase total transit cargo volumes to landlocked SADC countries from 6.8 million tonnes annually to 18 million tonnes per year by 2025.

The two entities are aiming for transit volumes via Walvis Bay to increase from 0.8 million tonnes per year to 3.6 million tonnes per year in 2025, while transit cargo as a percentage of port capacity are to increase from 23 percent to 40 percent by 2025 as well.

The ambitious plan also seeks to see logistics contribute 4.6 percent of total income to GDP, from the current 2.5 percent. The plan is also to increase employment in the logistics sector from 25.7 percent to 57.6 percent by the year 2025.

Clive Smith, WBCG’s project manager: logistics hub, emphasised the latent advantage the master plan to transform Namibia into a logistics centre for Africa through the National Development Plan 5 (NDP5).

Smith was speaking at the 9th Annual Logistics and Transport Workshop recently held in Walvis Bay.

“One of the key areas of transformation is the expansion of the Walvis Bay port – the terminal must be completed before 2019,” he added.

He further stressed the need for the corridor group (WBCG) to take this concept into the region. One such opportunity is through the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor (WBNLDC).

The WBNLDC links the port of Walvis Bay with Zambia, the southern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe. The corridor runs via the former Caprivi Strip, north-eastern Namibia, before it enters Zambia via the Katima Mulilo Bridge.

The corridor stretches over 2,500 km, supported by a railway line between Walvis Bay and Grootfontein, where transhipment facilities are available, after which the railway line resumes in Livingstone, Zambia.

Smith said that Namibia is currently hosting the secretariat in the agreement between the DRC, Namibia and Zambia. Through engagement with the United Nations, the WBCG was also appointed to form the Africa Corridor Management Alliance (ACMA).

Under ACMA, all corridor institutes on the African continent are put under one umbrella to map out ways on how to support one another in terms of corridor development, trade facilitation and infrastructure development.

“What we are doing is not only for Namibia – about one third of African countries are landlocked – 16 countries – talking about Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, southern Angola and southern DRC. We have latent advantage in terms of our (Namibia’s) geographical position, which we should embrace,” Smith enthused.

“From a country perspective, if we achieve this dream that we have, we will create opportunities for the rest of SADC and through that enhance our position within SADC,” he added.

Smith called on the municipalities of Erongo Region (western part of Namibia) and other regions to come in to play and make land available on a commercial basis that would support the Namibian Ports Authority’s activities in the process and see the logistics hub dream become a reality.

He also urged the private sector to get involved in infrastructure development, saying “we want to see this happening all over the country, but we do not want white elephants or to see people lose money in things that do not make business sense”.

“What is important is that we have input of the private sector into the master plan. From the time that the master plan was devised, we made sure that the private sector was included. We had many stakeholder engagements. We went into the regions; we had government engagements in the DRC, Angola and private sectors,” said Smith.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has extended loans running into billions of dollars to Namibia in the port expansion project, while the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has supported Namibia to develop the Logistics Master Plan.

Japan has committed N$10 million in grant assistance for the feasibility study and future development of the Namibia Ports Authority (Namport), while also giving technical assistance to the port and continuously supporting the realisation of the corridor development for the Southern African region.

“With the master plan, we were greatly supported by government of Japan; we entered into a three-year agreement with them after completion of the master plan until 2019. Japan provides technical support to all entities involved in logistics, that is, Namport, the Roads Authority, TransNamib,” said Smith.

“We have also commissioned the Logistics Master Plan Phase 3, supported by the AfDB to supplement some of the gaps that were found within the Logistics Master Plan Phase 2. We have started with various studies, some of the private sector has also been engaged,” he added.

The WBCG also entered into an agreement with the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) through a two-year development agreement between Namibia and Germany for technical financial support.

GIZ will start a detailed strategic marketing study and other elements of the master plan at a regional level, such as investigating what is happening in Zambia or in Durban in terms of capacity and issues relating to comparing the real cost of moving cargo from Walvis Bay port to other countries.

Smith also pointed out the importance of the rail network as one of the key areas that the Namibian government was focusing on, but that rail infrastructure was capital intensive.

“The logistics hub concept will not work if our rail infrastructure is not up to standard,” he said, adding that through the NDP5, “we can see government’s commitment to ensure that our rail network up to standard within the five to ten years.

The logistics concept continues from NDP4 to NDP5 with the implementation of the logistics master plan being the key area within the transport sector.

“We have a greater role to play. Through the logistics hub we will attract investment – the number of international companies that are interested in coming to Namibia is astounding,” Smith said. He pointed out that logistics was always a factor in all industries, and in Namibia it could mitigate the rural-urban population, especially in lessening the pressure on influx of people from rural areas to big towns.

“We see this in Walvis Bay in the number of people that surely puts a lot of pressure on the Walvis Bay and the Erongo Region council. The idea is to create other regional centres where activities can take place or our people in the different regions to stay in their regions and not just come to Walvis Bay or Windhoek for job opportunities,” he maintained.

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