Comesa chips in with $1,4m for ZIM dry port in Nambia

Walvis Bay - making headway (

Walvis Bay – making headway (

The Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa has agreed to avail US$1,4 million for phase one of the construction of the country’s Walvis Bay dry port. The government of Namibia in September 2009 granted Zimbabwe 19 000 square metres of land to construct its own dry port that is expected to boost the country’s trade. The project is being spearheaded by the Road Motor Services, a subsidiary of the National Railways of Zimbabwe.

In an interview, RMS managing director Mr Cosmos Mutakaya said the Ministry of Industry and Commerce last month held a consultative meeting with Comesa to strategise on how to fund the project.

“Comesa is looking at funding projects with a regional integration element that countries within the Southern African Development Community would benefit from. In the last meeting we held, Comesa indicated their willingness to finance the first phase of the facility which will cost US$1,4 million,” he said.

He said all the relevant documentation had been submitted and they are now waiting for a response from Comesa.

Mr Mutakaya said construction of the dry port would be done in two phases. The first phase involves the civil works which includes construction of the drive-in weighbridge, storage shades, palisade fencing as well as installation of electric catwalks. Phase two involves the putting up of administration blocks. He said once phase one is completed, then the dry port operations will start.

“We are now waiting for the unlocking of funds from Treasury and Comesa for us to start construction. The Namibian contractor, Namport, will also start working on the port once the funds are made available. According to the contractor, phase one of the project is going to take five working months to complete,” Mr Mutakaya said.

He said the project, which was supposed to have been completed by May this year, had been stalled by the lack of funding.

An official at the Namibian desk office in the Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed that operations at the port had stopped for a while due to a lack of funding. “Government has been facing challenges in making payments to the Walvis Bay Corridors Group, responsible for the construction at the port and operations had to be stopped for some time pending clearance of some outstanding fees by Government,” he said.

Trade for Zimbabwe via Walvis Bay has increased for the past few years and a large percentage of commodities are transported along this corridor. Zimbabwe’s trade volumes through the Port of Walvis Bay have grown significantly to more than 2 500 tonnes per month.

In a related development, the Namibian Ports Authority is also working on expanding Walvis Bay port and recently secured a US$338 million loan from the African Development Bank to finance the construction of a new container terminal at Port of Walvis Bay. The Namibian government also received US$1,5 million for logistics and capacity building complementing the port project loan. Source: The Herald (Zimbabwe)


Namibia – Dry Port for Keetmashoop

Namibia Map (

Namibia Map (

Namibia – Plans by Governor of the Karas Region, Bernardus Swartbooi, to establish a dry port facility at Keetmanshoop have been hailed as a “brilliant idea” by experts who are in unison that the idea is overdue. (Maybe it is just plain common sense! Will be interesting to see how the Namibian Revenue Authority facilitate the inland movement of transit containers from Walvis Bay.)

Swartbooi presented his proposal to change the face of Keetmanshoop by making it the pivot of trade between Namibia, South Africa and possibly the rest of Africa at the Annual Logistic and Transport Workshop last week.

According to him the new venture, estimated at roughly N$10million, will see Keetmanshoop linked directly by sea, rail and road with Namibia’s capital Windhoek, Africa’s largest economy, South Africa, and the rest of the Southern African Development Community in the form of a central north-south transport corridor.

Keetmanshoop is the only town in Namibia with eight border posts and has a working relationship with the North Cape Province in South Africa.

Swartbooi said the second phase of this development will stream into the creation of a free trade zone on the eastern side of Keetmanshoop that will not only attract foreign investors but create a wealth of jobs that will significantly reduce the country’s unemployment statistics.

He also mentioned that with a free trade zone the region can eventually venture into light manufacturing that will bring about positive spin-offs for the region and the entire Namibia as a whole.

“We fight against a trend that the south was left out.. If you close down the Walvis Bay port today we will feel it later, but if Lüderitz port is to be closed today the effect will be felt within hours. There is no argument about our strategic location. No-one can compete against our land availability,” he enthused.

Twenty hectares of serviced land have so far been secured for the project that will include two weighbridges, offload facilities and accommodation facilities for truck drivers and recreation.

“We are looking at enhancing road safety and to cut down on driver fatigue,” he explained adding that key stakeholders have not yet been identified and anchor participants are being sought.. “We are looking at a private public equity where we can give someone a lease of ninety years,” he stated.

According to the Director for the Namibia German Centre for Logistics, Neville Mbai, Keetmanshoop as a regional hub is a brilliant idea and will not only serve as a buffer during labour strikes in South Afica, but will surely ease the burden on Walvis Bay port and corridors.

“It is absolutely brilliant. Kharas is adjacent to the great Gauteng region, the breadbasket of Southern Africa if not the whole of Africa. What we want to see is a shorter road from Johannesburg to Namibia. Look at the road infrastructure of Walvis Bay, if we are to add more that road will be in trouble,” he said adding that with Keetmanshoop providing a hub Namibia will no longer be severely impacted by labour strikes in South Africa, as goods can be stored to cater for the Namibian market.

“The idea must be to have a concentration of logistics hubs scattered across the country and with the port of Lüderitz and the quantity of fish production the region certainly is deserving of a hub,” he noted.

At least 1 600 trucks pass through Keetmanshoop on a monthly basis with 80 percent of Namibia’s goods being are transported through this route.

Operations Manager for Logistics Support Services Quintin Simon argues that this is indeed a positive idea and with Keetmanshoop located in the centre, distribution will become easier and faster. Source:

Dry Ports – their growing role in international trade

Transnet Freight Rail

With rapid regional development of African port infrastructure and regional road corridors, the importance of inland multi-modal hubs is gaining traction. Increasing inter-African port competitiveness, with some countries happy to liberalize their economic trade engagements for increased foreign direct investment will put pressure on traditional emerging economies. In recent weeks there have been several public utterances concerning South Africa’s perceived demise as the ‘gateway to Africa’.

“If a gateway is supposed to be a transmission belt between global and regional markets and production facilities, the question should be whether South Africa can use its physical and material infrastructure to fulfil a connecting function between Africa and the rest of the world”, says Peter Draper senior fellow at the South African Institute for International Affairs. 

Global player General Electric recently chose Nairobi as its sub-Saharan hub – following companies like Coca Cola, Nestle and Heineken – and it based its decision partly, say trade academics, on South Africa’s unpredictable policy environment. With the rehabilitation of the East and West Coasts of Africa, some of it by resource companies needing to find more convenient export routes, trade patterns are starting to change in the region. In time, it is likely that Durban will be just one more port handling regional trade, rather than the main one.

A dry port is generally a rail terminal situated in an inland location with rail connections to one or more container seaports. Container freight trains run excursions between the seaports and the dry port, on a service timetable that is integrated with the schedules of the container ships arriving at the seaport.

Seaports have grown larger as world trade has increased, and they now lack space to expand and are restricted by congestion on the various routes into the port. While the access to the port from the sea may be highly efficient, with radar-guided systems for tracking the ships and sophisticated ship-to-shore facilities for speedy loading and unloading, land routes out of the seaport can be slow and congested.

The road and rail links are often too congested and inadequate to deal with the traffic from the port. This problem can be eased by a dry port consisting of rail and multi-modal terminals situated inland from the seaport.

In many instances, particularly in South Africa, port facilities are in close proximity to the center of the city, because historically the city grew up around the port. This means that road traffic both to and from the port has to make a circuit through the city along congested motorways or smaller roads. This problem can partially be overcome by the more efficient use of existing rail links to move the freight from the quayside to an inland dry port. The last two decades saw a decline in the ability of the rail service to meet increasing dry port to seaport needs. Over utilization of road transport not only deteriorates the roads but causes significant bottlenecks at sea port terminals.

The infrastructure available at the dry port is similar to that of a seaport in terms of the logistics and the facilities for importers and exporters. The dry port is equipped to handle cargo and transfer freight to warehouses or open storage.

Development of dry ports has become possible owing to the increase in multi-modal transit of goods utilising road, rail and sea. This in turn has become increasingly common due to the spread of containerisation which has facilitated the quick transfer of freight from sea to rail or from rail to road. Dry ports can therefore play an important part in ensuring the efficient transit of goods from a factory in their country of origin to a retail distribution point in the country of destination. Source: