This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Namibia’s principal port, Walvis Bay, is strategically located and supported by a network of well-maintained tarred roads that extend across Namibia into Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In addition, Walvis Bay is closer to North America and Europe than any of South Africa’s ports. Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have developed “dry port” facilities in Walvis Bay.
From 2003 to 2008, Namport, the state-owned port authority, saw the volume of bulk cargo processed through Walvis Bay grow by 87 percent, while the number of containers (as measured by Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, or TEUs) grew by a factor of 3.5. Currently, Walvis Bay’s container facility can handle 750,000 TEUs following the completion of a container port expansion project in 2019.
The Walvis Bay Corridor Group is a public-private partnership (PPP) that pools the resources and authorities of both transport regulators and transport operators, effectively serving as a facilitation center and one-stop shop coordinating trade along the corridors linking Namibia to the rest of the southern African region. The Walvis Bay Corridor Group promotes a multi-modal transport system from Walvis Bay to Gaborone and the South African border post of Gauteng, to further develop Namibia as a western gateway to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. This transport system would allow for goods to travel by land from Walvis Bay to South Africa in two days. Companies interested in the spin-off effects (including road and rail system upgrades) resulting from the growth of Walvis Bay should consider contacting the WBCG.
The increased port activity offers opportunities for U.S. port equipment exporters. The following product categories may enjoy good demand: quay cranes, container cranes, forklifts, top loaders, rubber tire gantry (RTG) cranes, power packs, and flatbeds. Additionally, as the port of Walvis Bay expands, it will offer opportunities for purveyors of material handling equipment such as small forklifts, small trucks, and similar equipment. Port information systems and logistics systems may also be in demand. Companies with expertise in ship and oil rig repair may also find opportunities.
Spin-off effects resulting from the growth of Walvis Bay may provide opportunities for companies in the following sectors: railroad equipment and trucks/trailers/buses.
Due to the high level of growth, in 2020, NamPort completed a new container port facility, which now handles 750,000 TEUs per year. The new port is on reclaimed land, and its harbor was deepened from 12.8 meters to 15 meters. NamPort is evaluating bids from private companies to manage some port operations at Walvis Bay through a PPP.
Walvis Bay is also positioning itself to become a world-class ship and oil rig repair facility. RBG Ltd. and Elgin Brown & Hamer, the oldest ship repair company in South Africa, have established a joint venture (Elgin RBG PTY Limited) to provide support services to the African drilling rig and ship repair and upgrade market. Walvis Bay is ideally suited to service oil rigs situated on the Angolan coast, as well as rigs that previously would have been serviced in South African ports (Cape Town and Durban) or further afield.
Construction and rehabilitation of the rail infrastructure (which is maintained by the government) is essential for the Port of Walvis Bay (NamPort) to meet its growth objectives. The state-owned rail company (TransNamib) is also in need of additional locomotives and rolling stock; however, it lacks the capital to acquire new equipment. The government is reviewing how private investment (including FDI) might be applied to the rail sector. TransNamib aims to acquire new locomotives to provide for the expected increased demand for transport services to and from the recently expanded port of Walvis Bay. TransNamib will need to double the number of locomotives it has now to meet its integrated strategic business plan (ISBP) goal of moving 3.1 million tons of cargo per year by 2023. The company currently has 43 locomotives and will need 86 locomotives by 2023 – a potential business opportunity for U.S. companies that manufacture and sell trains.
In April 2022, a feasibility study into extending Namibia’s rail network into Zambia found that the project is commercially and environmentally viable and should go ahead. If implemented, the new railway line would cover 770 kilometers and could stimulate the development of mining activity along the corridor running from the port of Walvis Bay to Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A railway network from Namibia into Zambia could allow Zambia, Namibia, and the DRC to export copper and other minerals to buyers in the United States of America, Europe, and China. Namibia is increasingly positioning itself as a logistics hub for the Southern African region and is exploring financial and technical options with the private sector to implement this railway project. While the railway line primarily targets the mining sector, it could unlock other industries such as sugar production, animal feed production, and other value addition products which could be transported through the network. The project could provide various opportunities for US private sector participation.