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Walvis Bay Dry Port: Untying a white elephant

PAULINE DIKUELO
Teseletso
The Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) recently took local companies to Namibia on a trade mission to expose them to opportunities that exists at the recently opened Dry Port in Walvis Bay. With reports coming out of Namibia that the Dry Port is fast becoming a white elephant due to lack of utilisation, BusinessWeek Correspondent PAULINE DIKUELO caught up with their Corporate Communications Manager, Itumeleng Teseletso to find out more about the trip

BusinessWeek: Would you say the trip met its expectations?

Teseletso: This mission was overall a success. The mission was able to generate some new interest for Botswana companies, in particular from those companies that indicated interest to work in collaboration with the Namibian companies that participated on the mission in the areas of transport, logistics, freight, shipping and handling and customs clearance. We believe that the expectations and objectives of the mission were met.

BusinessWeek: What were the aims of the mission?

Teseletso: The aims included exposing and sensitising relevant business communities in Botswana and Namibia about the Botswana Dry Port at Walvis Bay, Namibia.  We also targeted to present investment and trade opportunities in Botswana to potential Namibian investors and establish new contacts and investment leads.

BusinessWeek: How many entrepreneurs did you take along?

Teseletso: BITC led a delegation of 11 companies that participated in the mission. The companies represented were; Montle Investments, AT & T Monnakgotla, Premier Logistics, Botswana Couriers, Fire Risk and Security Systems, Ki-tech Logistics, Zebra Shipping, Claretebo Distributors, Gabcon and Joint Capital.

Several key stakeholders from Botswana and Namibia were part of the mission and they included among others the Botswana Railways, Botswana High Commission to Namibia, Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat, Sea Rail (Botswana) (Pty) Ltd, Walvis Bay Corridor Group and the Namport Walvis Bay.

BusinessWeek: Are there any business

partnerships that were formed there?

Teseletso: As part of our investment promotion programme, all companies that participate in the mission are given the opportunity to meet and engage with companies within their line of business in the targeted markets to seek business partnerships or relations that can benefit and grow their own businesses.

One-on-one meetings further present joint venture opportunities for participating companies.  Participating companies viewed this mission as a success and an opportunity to grow their businesses.  They will be working on their respective strategies and will engage the Dry Port authorities on how best to participate and utilise the Dry Port and expand business into and from Namibia.

Prospects for partnerships were discussed between some of the Botswana participant companies and Marcel (a fish processing plant) to establish a fish warehousing/distribution point in Botswana through importing fish from Namibia.

Business Week: What business opportunities exist there?

Teseletso: The Botswana Dry Port acts as a key receipt or dispatch point for commodities either destined to Botswana or regionally providing storage and bagging.

Opportunities presented by the Port are therefore in line with this, covering transport and logistics services to and from the Port, including other services offered at the Port such as cartage services, container handling, stacking, storage, a break bulk terminal, general purpose warehouse, bonded warehouse, empty container park and value-added services. In addition, other business opportunities that are present in the Walvis Bay and Swakopmond region include property investments, property development (enroute to Swakopmond from Walvis Bay), business support

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services (call centres), tourism, travel and tours.  Exporting from Walvis Bay can present local businesses with a lot of opportunities for any locally manufactured goods exported to European and American markets looking at the time and logistical economies of scale as opposed to using Cape Town or Durban Ports.

There are also ongoing developments to expand the Port of Walvis Bay, which will offer businesses greater opportunities to utilise the Port for importing and exporting purposes.

BusinessWeek: The Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia, Tshenolo Modise was recently quoted saying the Dry Port is underutilised since it started operating in September last year, what is your comment on this?

Teseletso: The Botswana Dry Port holds a lot of potential for the Sea Rail Botswana to develop partnership opportunities with private sector companies in the areas of transport and logistics.

There is a growing need for Botswana to begin fully utilising the Dry Port. The development of the facility offers exporters in Botswana an opportunity to facilitate and handle their cargo through the Port as an alternative to the Port of Durban.  The exporters who utilise this Port will be for goods billed for EU and America. Short term measures for warehousing need to be implemented through the use of rubber halls or temporary warehouse structures. Long term solutions that will expedite the use of the Port include the construction on bonded warehouses, general warehouses, cold room storage facilities, container handling machinery, containers and a noise barrier.

All the key stakeholders will work together to ensure that an expression of interest to develop the port facilities is published in due time.

BusinessWeek: What role is BITC going to play to ensure that the Port is utilised?

Teseletso: BITC has facilitated this mission as an inaugural activity targeted at the Botswana Dry Port in Walvis Bay; but annually BITC leads contact promotion missions to Windhoek and Walvis Bay promoting Botswana manufactured products for export.

This is driven through BITC’s export development and promotion function. BITC will continue to facilitate partnership between Botswana and Namibian companies and help Botswana based companies optimise on the opportunities provided by the Dry Port.

BITC will also play an important role in mobilising private local businesses and investors to develop the port so that it has the capacity and resources to increase its usage by Batswana companies. 

In addition, BITC will work hand in hand with Botswana Railways, Gabcon and Sea Rail Botswana to ensure the expansion and growth potential of the Port.

The above stakeholders will play a very vital role in deviating traffic from Durban and Cape Town to Walvis Bay; more Batswana will be encouraged to use Walvis Bay as opposed to Durban due to the quicker arrival of goods and the nature of the relationship the Namibian and Botswana governments have with each other.



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