Sharon Kavhu recently in Walvis Bay
The inauguration of Namibia’s new container terminal in Walvis Bay is a huge step for the country towards a transformational logistics hub.
Situated on 40 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea, the container terminal will be operational on August 24 this year and is expected to increase the container handling capacity from 350 000 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) containers to 750 000 TEUs per annum.
According to Namport, the new terminal, which is an expansion of the Walvis Bay Port, was constructed because the containers at the harbour had increased by 15% and as a result the harbour had become busier.
Namibian President and SADC Chairperson, Hage Geingob, described the development as a culmination of a long cherished vision of transforming Walvis Bay from a predominantly fishing harbour inherited from South Africa for reintegration into Namibia, into an express-hub to international markets.
Geingob was of the notion that the new terminal would serve as a destination port for landlocked countries in the Southern Africa region. He regards the port as one of the major container terminals across the continent which have the same capacity as other major terminals found in Europe and Asia.
“Namibia has now joined countries such as Australia, Brazil, Dubai and the Netherlands in the utilisation of reclaimed land for port expansion. Thus the completion of the container terminal expansion puts us on a firm trajectory towards realising our dream of transforming Namibia into an international logistics hub,” said Geingob in his remarks during the official inauguration of the new terminal last week.
“Namibia is linked to neighbouring countries through the various transport corridors and we must strive to capitalise on this immense investment by harnessing the vast potential of our Southern African Development Community (SADC) neighbours that have no immediate access to the ocean. We have since coined a term of ‘sea linked countries’ to refer to what we previously referred to as ‘landlocked countries’. The new container terminal now gives us the additional capacity to serve both local and regional requirements,” he said.
The terminal is expected to increase trade between the Southern Africa region with other parts of the African continent as well as with other continents.
“Added to this development is the new bitumen dual carriageway being constructed behind the dunes between the Walvis Bay-Swakopmund road and the bitumen road from Swakopmund to Kamanjab. All these and other developments will complement the new container terminal in facilitating the movement of goods in and out of the country,” he said.
Supporting Geingob, Immanuel !Hanabeb, the executive commercial director for Namport, said the new terminal had qualified Namibia among other countries with massive capacities that can accommodate bigger vessels, adding that the Walvis Bay terminal could accommodate up to 9 000 Dobson Units.
Namibia, through the Walvis Bay Port, has been serving other SADC member states such as Botswana, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the southern part of Angola. Two weeks ago, Zimbabwe joined these countries following the inauguration of its dry port at Walvis Bay.
The terminal will act as a port of entry for massive containers to the Southern African country from North America, Europe and Asia.
“In terms of business and international development plans, Namibia approach to be a logistics hub has enabled us not to only serve the Namibian market but also other SADC member states,” said !Hanabeb.
Namibia’s location is strategic for the country to be a logistics hub in the SADC region as it shares the borders with Angola, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia. The country also has good ports and a good road network that links it further with Zimbabwe, Malawi and southern parts of the DRC.
!Hanabeb said the new terminal had a favourable and conducive environment for trade as it will reduce the costs inquired by traders during the sort out time when their vessels land at the port. This is mainly because of its increased capacity.
“In shipping, there are three things that are important. These are cost, time and distance. With the advent of the port, the costs associated with exports and imports will be reduced as the sort out time would have reduced. Due to the enlarged capacity at the new terminal, the port will be more efficient as the turnaround time will be faster while the period of stay of the vessel will also be shorter,” added !Hanabeb.
Chinese ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, said the new terminal is set to act as a development engine of the national economy and international trade.
“Taking advantage of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, it will further drive the development of the port-adjacent Industrial Park and the logistics industry and help Namibia to achieve sustainable development,” he said.
Yiming said the new terminal would play an irreplaceable role in promoting pragmatic cooperation between China and Southern African countries.
“China and Namibia signed a MOU on the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ co-operation. Thus Namibia, together with 39 other countries became a new member of the BRI co-operation. The Walvis Bay Port Container Terminal enables Namibia to become an interconnection hub in Southern Africa under the BRI cooperation and will play an irreplaceable role in promoting pragmatic cooperation between China and Southern African countries,” said Yiming.
The Walvis Bay Port New Container Terminal is regarded as the largest engineering project since the country’s independence in 1990.
The Walvis Bay Port new container terminal is regarded as the largest engineering project since the country’s independence. It was constructed by the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) which employed over 2 000 Namibians and also provided on-site training to over 800 local employees.
According to Namport, the project is worth R4.2 billion and received R2.9 billion loan from the African Development Bank. Namport and the government of Namibia funded 75% and 25% of the remaining R1.3 billion respectively.