Most ambitious initiative since independence
“If implemented effectively, this economic repositioning will have a favourable impact on companies and individuals at all levels in the process, providing a major long-term platform for growth in virtually all areas of our economy.”
Boois said by utilising economic growth in the southern African region, the Logistics Hub Project will expand Namibia’s economy beyond its domestic limits.
“It will also allow Namibia to leave the dual-economy structure behind - which is heavily dependent on a narrow range of industries - and embark on the diversification of economic activities on the back of a strong logistics, supply chain and services network.”
Provided that intentions become actions, Namibia can greatly contribute towards regional integration and prosperity and therefore increase its role and significance within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), he said.
“Given Namibia’s competitive advantage, due to our geographic location and our good transport infrastructure and with reference to the fifth National Development Plan, one of the main economic priorities is to transform the port of Walvis Bay, along with the country’s rail and road connections to neighbouring countries, into a regional logistics hub,” Boois said.
He said government, with technical assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, developed the logistics hub master plan, which serves as a framework and outlook of the initiative.
In addition, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) provided funding and technical support to establish two working groups, a strategic marketing strategy study, production of the state of logistics report, a capacity needs assessment study, as well as benchmarking and marketing visits to international hubs such as Singapore.
He explained that the Namibian logistics hub concept entails an intervention process that strives to unleash the latent growth and development potential of specifically the geographic location of Namibia through the identification, packaging, formulation and marketing of a logistics hub for the SADC region and beyond.
“The overall objective is to put in place sustainable institutional arrangements and mechanisms that ensure the transformation of the port of Walvis Bay and the Walvis Bay corridors into economic corridors for the socio-economic growth and development of the country.”
Boois said the development scenario for the logistics hub master plan is to move Namibia from a non-player to a transport corridor, then into an economic development corridor, and eventually into an industrial economy, in alignment with other national development strategies such as Vision 2030 and more recently, the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP2).
He said as part of the approved implementation structure, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, due to its established track record for corridor development and its unique public-private partnership (PPP) model, was appointed as the implementing agency for the logistics hub initiative through a Cabinet resolution in 2015.
Boois said the logistic hub’s master plan has elevated Namibia’s visibility through extensive marketing strategies. This has also resulted in increased cargo volumes along the Walvis Bay corridors.
"The streamlining of Namibia’s logistics industry has improved the supply chain from the Namibian ports to key markets in SADC. There has been significant creation of jobs in the logistics sector. There has been an increase in new course offerings at different institutions of higher learning from diploma to masters levels."
According to him, other benefits have included improved transport infrastructure such as expanded road networks to improve road safety with more capacity, port expansions to accommodate more cargo volumes, and ongoing investments in aviation as well as railway upgrades to allow for a gradual shift from road to rail for bulk cargo and to ensure further global connectivity with more international carriers coming to Namibia.
“The improved connectivity allows Namibia to access a larger regional and global market, thereby further increasing cargo volumes along the Walvis Bay corridors. Most importantly, it acts as a catalyst for other sector of the economy, such as agricultural, manufacturing, mining and tourism.”
The master plan identified a combination of soft and hard infrastructure to be developed in order to reach the desired outcome, Boois said.
Under hard infrastructure, the continued improvement of ports, roads, rail and aviation infrastructure, warehouse facilities, as well as truck stops at designated towns and one-stop border posts are under development.
A significant advancement has been the implementation of cargo pre-clearance at all major border posts in Namibia, which has reduced time spent at border posts and enhanced trade facilitation.
As part of the soft infrastructure, Namibia is working on special economic zones, implementation of the national single window systems, regional and international policies.
“The project aims to deepen regional economic integration and put in place measures to improve corridor competitiveness as well as enhance closer trade and investment linkages. It is with a sense of great pride that the Walvis Bay Corridor Group continues to play a crucial role in Namibia’s regional transport and corridor development. However, the success of the Namibia Logistics Hub Project hinges on a well-coordinated and synergised approach to the implementation of the master plan’s programmes and projects.”
Boois added that the logistics hub is expected to enable Namibia to realise its vision of becoming an industrialised country and to ensure that Namibia becomes part of the global supply chain, with the logistics industry acting as a conduit to realising the national economic aspirations.