The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and Namibia on 8 November 2013 signed a ZAR 2.9 billion (US $338 million) sovereign guaranteed loan to Nambia Ports Authority (Namport) to finance the construction of a container terminal at Walvis Bay New Port.
In line with its Ten Year Strategy and focus on infrastructure development and regional integration, the AfDB Group approved the construction of the New Port of Walvis Bay Container Terminal Project in July 2013. The Bank also provided a UA 1.5 million grant (US $2.3 million) to the Government of Namibia for logistics and capacity building complementing the port project loan.
Namibia’s Finance Minister and Governor for the Bank, Sara Kuugongwelwa-Amadhila, signed the loan guarantee and grant agreements on behalf the Government in Windhoek.
Namport CEO Bisey Uirab signed the loan agreement on behalf of Namport, while Ebrima Faal, Regional Director of the AfDB’s Southern Africa Resource Center (SARC), signed for the Bank.
In her intervention, Kuugongwelwa-Amadhila stressed the importance of the project and its contribution to one of the key development goals (the logistics pillar) of the National Development Plan which aims to position Namibia as a regional logistics hub by 2017. The Minister also thanked the AfDB for its strong and holistic support to Namport and the Government of Namibia through the loan and grant financing.
For his part, the Namport CEO acknowledged the positive spirit and enthusiasm of the AfDB in committing to finance the project and its unwavering commitment throughout the project preparation process.
In his statement, Faal emphasized the developmental impact of the project: “This project is important for Namibia and for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It is critical to fulfilling Namibia’s aspirations to become a world-class logistics hub in the SADC region,” he said.
According to Faal, the project will enhance international and inter-regional trade and regional integration and Namibia will be able to fully exploit its unique geographical location to facilitate trade to and from the region.
“With the high levels of youth unemployment, the Bank’s support to Namport and the Government of Namibia will greatly improve private sector development and youth employment and will especially boost women participation in the logistics sector,” he emphasized.
The Project is expected to enable Namport to triple the container-handling capacity at the Port of Walvis Bay from 350,000 TEUs to 1,050,000 TEUs per annum. It will also finance the purchase of up-to-date port equipment and the training of pilots and operators for the new terminal. The grant component will fund the preparation of the National Logistics Master Plan study, technical support and capacity-building for the Walvis Bay Corridor Group and training of freight forwarders with particular emphasis on female staff.
According to the AfDB Director of Transport and ICT, Amadou Oumarou: “Through this project which potentially serves up to seven major economies in the SADC region, the Bank is assisting in the diversification and distribution of port facilities on the southwest coast of Africa, and provides the much-needed alternative for the region’s landlocked countries.”
The project will stimulate the development and upgrade of multimodal transport corridors linking the port to the hinterland while improving the country’s transport and logistics chains. It will also boost competition among the ports and transport corridors in the region with the ripple effect on reductions in transportation costs and increased economic growth.
The projected project outcomes include improvement in port efficiency and increase in cargo volumes by 70% in 2020 as a result of increased trade in the region. The benefits of the project will include among others, the stimulation of inter-regional trade and regional integration, private sector development, skills transfer and most importantly employment creation, leading to significant economic development and poverty reduction in Namibia, and the SADC region.