Business delegations and individual entrepreneurs visiting as well as those exhibiting at the Global Expo in Gaborone have been advised that Namibia, through the Walvis Bay, offered a strategic business gateway to the rest of the SADC region and to other parts of Africa and the world, and that they should seize the opportunity now.
The message was shared with everyone who visited the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) stall at number D178. Botswana’s renowned annual trade exhibition brings thousands of companies and businesses from around the world.
Johnny Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Walvis Bay Corridor Group, said, “Given the amount of interest it has generated in recent years, and appeal to the regional as well as the international market and with more direct shipping to Walvis Bay, high efficiencies, short transit times and strategic partnerships, the Walvis Bay Corridor routes are now in a robust position to serve the SADC market to the rest of the world.”
Speaking to the Sunday Standard in an interview at the Global Expo, Smith pointed out that the presence of his team at the trade show was spurred by a deliberate decision on the part of the WBCG to promote optimization of the operational side of the Corridor, through the Port of Walvis Bay.
“Thus, our coming here is part of an awareness campaign to tell Botswana importers and exporters that Namibia, through the port of Walvis Bay, provides a shorter alternative trade route to the rest of the world and to therefore market its location and business opportunities available,” added Smith.
Mention has been made of the fact that the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) offered importers and exporters a time saving of 5 ÔÇô 7 days and links the Port of Walvis Bay to Gaborone in Botswana and Gauteng in South Africa, which allows 2 days of transit time to the final destination.
Some of the reassuring achievements that were highlighted in terms of ensuring the smooth flow of cargo along the TKC related to the adoption of harmonized customs procedures, the extension of border operating hours along the entire corridors and the implementation of the SAD500 as well as quick clearance time.
Besides, the establishment of the WBCG in 2000 is the increase in the number of shipping connections to Walvis Bay that has enhanced the status of the Port of Walvis Bay and also ensured a more competitive tariff structure for the importers and exporters in the region.
According to Smith, a feasibility study was in the process of being carried out on the proposed TKC railway, which would for the first time provide a rail link connection between eastern Botswana and port facilities at the Atlantic west coast of Namibia, Walvis Bay.
To further enhance the efficiency of the TKC, the WBCG CEO told the Sunday Standard that a feasibility study had been conducted and presented to the Governments and private sectors in Botswana and Namibia regarding the potential implementation of the One Stop Border Post.┬á
Again, proposal of a sustainable system is under consideration regarding terms of the establishment of a Corridor Performance Management System.
Another targeted major projects to increase capacity in the port expansion project, which will commence next year and increase port capacity from current 200 000 TEU per year to 500,000 TEU’s per annum.
Through the Port of Walvis Bay, commodity traders in the SADC region are now able to put their products on the international market earlier and vice versa, via direct shipping links through Namibia. This makes the Walvis Bay Corridors more competitive in the region for producers and consumers in the SADC region.
The Executive Director of the Botswana Chamber of Commerce and Industry Manpower (BOCCIM), Maria Machailo-Ellis, commended the ideas of the corridor, but expressed the general view that there was need for proactive thinking to ensure the private sector is involved from conceptualization so as to enable economically beneficial development at the end.