Walvis Bay, Ndola, Lubumbashi corridor gaining traction

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Magreth Nunuhe

Swakopmund – Cross-border cargo volumes from the Port of Walvis Bay in Namibia along the Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) route are growing at a fast pace with cargo volumes increasing by 20% to 590,000 tonnes in October 2018.

The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) says it expects volumes along this route, known as the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor, to increase to an estimated 36% by the end of this year, driven by the Zambian and DRC markets, which achieved an impressive monthly 46,000 tonnes on average.  

According to the WBCG, volumes destined for the Zimbabwean market have also grown by 48%, mainly break-bulk transported through the Port of Walvis Bay. However, the Angolan market is growing at a slower pace.

Clive Smith, WBCG Acting CEO, said the increase in volumes along the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor indicates that the route has become the preferred option for imports and exports to and from southern Africa.

“The record increase in these volumes is testimony to the success of our efforts to increase accessibility to our markets via the Walvis Bay corridors,” he added.

The WBCG has been growing as an alternative trade route for international markets to and from Southern Africa with various commodities being moved, which include copper, vehicles, frozen products, machinery and equipment, and consumables via the Namibian Port Authority (Namport).

Namport is connected with good shipping services that provide an option for shippers from Europe and North America to supply bulk, containerised and breakbulk shipments such as abnormal loads to neighbouring countries in the Southern African region in the shortest possible time.

The heavy-lift port facilities remove the requirements for road permits or abnormal clearances between the quayside and the storage yard, which streamlines the process for customers.

It has also become an important node for Southern Africa, as minerals from land-locked countries going through the port have increase.

Tino !Hanabeb, Namport’s Senior Manager: Commercial, announced earlier that the ports authority would be importing an additional 50,000 tonnes of goods at the Port of Walvis Bay destined for Zambia and the DRC and also import manganese from mines in Northern Cape through the Port of Lüderitz.

!Hanabeb further noted that the ports authority has earmarked R4.2 billion for regional development and with the new container terminal to be commissioned in 2019, Namport would be able to handle more cargo and also increase the container capacity at the port from 400,000 TEUs to 750,000 TEUs per annum.

On average, between 2,000 and 2,250 vessels visit the ports of Walvis Bay and Lüderitz every year, with container vessels accounting for the largest number of the visits.

WBCG, which has won many accolades as the preferred port to use for moving cargo into and out of the region, was tasked by the United Nations and the African Union to bring African Corridor Management Alliance (ACMA) into fruition since it was established two years ago.

ACMA is expected to promote corridor management across the African continent and boost intra-African trade, as Africa lacks a systematic management approach despite being a major source of the world’s natural resources, such as ores, concentrates, metals and agro products that are exported without value addition.

Also, there are challenges in terms of transport and logistics harmonisation as most countries follow own laws for tariffs, transit and visa requirements.

While the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor seems to be making headway ahead of other corridors, there is still no harmonisation of customs duty, transit and normal transport fees.

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