The Chief Executive Officer of Walvis Bay Corridor Group in Namibia, Johny Smith has advised Francistown to take advantage of the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) which links Botswana to the Port of Walvis Bay in Namibia. This comes in the backdrop of Francistown City Council (FCC)’s quest to transform the second city into an investment hub by 2022.
Giving his presentation during the TKC information session held in collaboration with the Botswana Railways (BR) in Francistown last week, Smith said Francistown is strategically located to establish a logistic transit hub and service countries like Zimbabwe by taking advantage of opportunities provided by the Trans Kalahari Corridor and Walvis Bay Port.
“This city is strategically located to service countries like Zimbabwe and it should take advantage of the Trans Kalahari Corridor from the Walvis Bay to establish a transit hub to service countries such as Zimbabwe. Francistown can look at establishing distribution facilities. Entrepreneurs from this place and Botswana in general can also establish offices or branches in the Walvis Bay and take advantage of the current existing niches in the logistics business. There are abundant opportunities that entrepreneurs from this country can take advantage of in the logistics business in the Walvis Bay,” he said.
He also said if Francistown establishes a logistics hub, it can further attract more investment in the city and thus create employment and add value to the economy. The Trans Kalahari Corridor is a tripartite trans boundary corridor management institution that was established with a political and economic vision to pursue or contribute towards deeper regional integration. It was jointly developed by the Botswana and Namibian Governments in the 1990s. It comprises of a road network spanning approximately 1 900 km across the territories of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. This Corridor comprises of a tarred road linking the Port of Walvis Bay with Botswana and the industrial powerhouse of Gauteng, South Africa.
Smith further said that the Trans Kalahari Corridor presents a golden opportunity for Botswana to export and import her goods in a more cheaper and effective way. He said this would further enhance her economy. He said in today’s competitive logistics environment, importers and exporters are constantly looking at alternatives for their clients aimed at reducing the time and cost of doing business within the region. He also said the Trans Kalahari Corridor which is linked to the port of Walvis Bay has the potential to add a great deal of value to the mining sector in Botswana.
“The mining sector which forms the backbone of Botswana’s economy can immensely benefit from the TKC and thus add value to the economy and create employment,” he said.
Touching on the offerings of the Walvis Bay Port he said the TKC linked to the port provides a short transport link across the entire breadth of Southern Africa. Compared to the traditional Southern Namibia routes to South Africa’s Gauteng, Smith said TKC cuts the distance by 400 kilometers, making it a more preferred route providing cost effective logistical advantages to the users. He also said that the TKC is a strategic route of choice that provides linkages between the Americas and East European markets and the Southern African countries.
For his part, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Roads and Transport, Neil Fitt said that corridors are important to precipitate trade and most importantly to lower transportation costs for a landlocked country like Botswana.
“Botswana is a landlocked country, but through this corridor Botswana she can be able to compete fairly and benefit. Francistown is in the centre of the North and South corridors and these two corridors carry a lot of goods. Many people think Francistown does not need these two corridors but it does because more importantly it is in the centre,” he said. Fitt added that the North and South Corridors carry more goods than anywhere else in the region. He also said as part of his Ministry’s efforts to facilitate trade, they are looking at establishing a railway line that connects to the Kazungula Bridge in order to establish trade.
“All this linkages should not be treated in isolation for trade to be smooth,” he added. He lauded the current construction of the dual Tonota-Francistown road as a project that will also facilitate the free flow of trade.
The beyond borders information session was aimed at engaging the business community mainly the mining sector, the logistics businesses and the Francistown City Council. The platform was also geared at providing vital information on the TKC and to allow delegates an opportunity to network with role players in the transport and logistics sector.