Journey to Africa and beyond

Beginning operation as a publicprivate partnership in 2000, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) was established to engage in business development activities within Namibia to encourage improved business relationship with the nation’s neighbour states, facilitate corridor infrastructure development and to increase the cargo for ports linked to the Walvis Bay Corridors. The Walvis Bay Corridors are comprised of well-maintained tarred roads and rail networks that are supported by all modes of transport from the Port of Walvis Bay via the Trans-Kalahari, Trans-Caprivi, Trans- Cunene and Trans-Oranje Corridors providing landlocked Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries access to transatlantic markets. “We serve as a central chamber for the transport industry within an aim to develop Namibia as a gateway to the SADC region in terms of trade and exports,” explains CEO, Johny Smith. “The main benefit of the Walvis Bay Corridors is that they offer reduced transit times for cargo, however the corridors also offer a significant improvement in safety because transport routes within Namibia are very secure. Namibia itself also represents a comparatively simple place to do business inside of the SADC region.”

Cargo offloaded at the Port of Walvis Bay is handled with state-of-the-art machinery and record turnaround processing time. The Walvis Bay port is congestion-free and its facilities are of world-class standard, which ensures that cargo is handled reliably and safely. Cargo then makes its way from the port along one of the corridors across Namibia and into neighbouring SADC countries. Furthermore, the combined ports and corridors throughout the rest of Namibia are strategically located to give the country a competitive position as a transport hub for all regional and international trade between the SADC, Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world. Its modern and wellmaintained port and corridor infrastructure is supported by highly safe and efficient transport services via leading players within partnership, it is able to lean on the public sector for advice and action on issues such as customs, transport regulation and infrastructure development, while the private sector can focus on business development such as marketing and making practical operational proposals and logistics solutions. Both arms provide input into developing human resources, the institutions themselves, and the associated infrastructure. “The advantage of the public-private partnership is that we are able to sit around a table with our partners and discuss various methods of improvement. We have been very aggressive in putting Namibia on the map from a global perspective and further linking this into the wider southern African economy,” Johny reveals. “The biggest challenge for us is probably the fact that Namibia is a relatively small economy, however we are able to offset this by offering attractive opportunities for growth to external private business within the southern Africa region and beyond.”

Indeed, the potential of the Walvis Bay Corridors was recently highlighted at the 4th Annual African Railway Summit during April 2016, where WBCG’s Business Development Manager in South Africa, Siobhan Fox discussed the Namibian rail infrastructure, the company’s current projects and future development. The attentive audience were impressed by Government’s emphasis on the importance placed on upgrading rail infrastructure in Namibia and connecting it to that of the nation’s landlocked neighbours. Commenting on the summit, Ms Fox said: “We have piqued their interest and industry is eager to see our rail become the vital link in the supply chain once again.”

Themed as the development of a ‘rail renaissance’, the 4th Annual African Railway Summit discussed the latest technological developments in the African Rail industry. With the current need of fast growing metropolitan areas in Africa for effective and high-capacity public transport systems, developing strategies for expanding national, regional or local rail services and enhancing operations and management in Africa entails opportunities for a wide range of industry professionals. The summit itself is a conference geographically focused on the Sub-Saharan Africa region which covers a broad field of relevant issues like micro managing infrastructure planning and financing, railway concession and operation, energy efficiency, freight and passenger transport, urban transport, as well as safety and security.

“Most of the region’s development into rail and other transport infrastructure has been largely undertaken by the Namibian government and by governments across the border, but the WBCG continues to look for new projects and opportunities and there is also scope for private enterprise to further develop transport, logistics and distribution solutions,” Johny concludes. “For us the future focus will be to build Namibia’s logistics up and approaching international investors such a forwarders and bringing them to Namibia so that they can see how they can set up distribution warehouses for further expansion throughout the Southern Africa region.”

Walvis Bay Corridor Group

  • Developing transport links
  • Public-private partnership
  • Southern African Development Community hub