As its 2014/15 financial year kicks off, Namibia is pouring billions of dollars into the development of an integrated national multi-modal transport system “that would, ultimately, consolidate and streamline the position of Namibia as an efficient transport hub in the Southern African region.”
As the country’s finance minister, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, told parliament when she delivered the US$5.5 billion (about P49 billion) 2014/15 budget last Wednesday, part of such plan involves the expansion of the port of Walvis Bay as well as the construction and rehabilitation of railway lines.
Through an expanded port of Walvis Bay, Namibia will be able to unlock access to more than 300 million potential consumers in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Known as the Southern African Development Community Gateway Port, this project will extend the existing harbour to the north of Walvis Bay and cover a total of 1330 hectares of port land with 10 000 meters of quay walls and jetties, providing at least 30 large berths. The project is expected to enable the Namibia Port Authority (Namport) to triple the container-handling capacity at Walvis Bay from 350 000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 1 050 000 TEUs per annum. Last year, the African Development Bank and the Namibian government signed a US$ 338 million sovereign guaranteed loan to Namport to finance the construction of a container terminal at Walvis Bay. The bank will also finance the purchase of up-to-date port equipment and the training of pilots and operators for the new terminal as well as provide a grant of US$ 2.3 million to Namibia.
The latter will fund the preparation of the National Logistics Master Plan study, technical support and capacity-building for the Walvis Bay Corridor Group and the training of freight forwarders. The new port will feature world class ship and rig repair yards, and oil and gas supply base, more than 100 million tons worth of undercover dry bulk terminal, a car import terminal and a passenger terminal. Construction will be conducted in several phases with the first phase including the building of tanker berth and fuel storage facility.
Namport is fast-tracking the construction of the SADC Gateway Port in anticipation of Botswana exporting coal to Asia. In her speech, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said that secondary industries are projected to experience robust growth over the medium-term expenditure framework period, supported by a boom in construction. This year alone, it is projected that these industries will rise by 9.2 percent as growth in construction remains in double-digit territory and accelerates on the back of several large-scale projects like the Walvis Bay port expansion. Botswana and Namibia are to sign a deal at the end of this month to develop the Trans-Kalahari Railway which will mainly be used for transporting coal exports to Walvis Bay from where it will be shipped to overseas markets, notably China and India.
Highway and both will form part of the Trans-Kalahari Corridor that was opened in 1998 with an initial investment of $127 million. The corridor is entirely paved and travels 1, 900 km from Walvis Bay in Namibia through Botswana into Johannesburg in South Africa.