Business Profiles Featured

Namibian Ports Authority: 30 Years Connecting International Markets

Almost all of Africa’s imports and exports are conducted by sea, and so ports and port authorities around the continent’s coast play a vital role in keeping the cargo industry moving to serve countries within Africa and across the globe. A key port authority playing a vital role in developing the port industries in the southern African region, particularly in Namibia, is the Namibian Ports Authority. The authority, otherwise known as Namport, is helping to establish an efficient and reliable maritime and cargo port which serves international shipping lines and continues to develop the port as a vital link between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, and the rest of the world.  

Established 30 years ago in 1994, Namport is a state-owned entity which began as a collection of fishing harbours, which today has been transformed into a hub of cargo and maritime operations. A large part of this expansion has been due to the vastly expanding economies of surrounding SADC countries that utilised Namibia’s ports to move cargo from one country to another on both local and international scales. Today, the commercial and industrial activities of the port have superseded the fishing origins, however, these are still a prominent focus at one of Namport’s ports which recognises the vast fishing industry which began the company three decades ago.  

Namport’s central role is to oversee the ports in Namibia and cater for each one’s trade needs in order to meet current and future demands. This management has contributed to the competitive nature of Namport’s ports across the SADC, as every port under its management is known for its efficient, reliable, and cost-effective supply of port services which aid in facilitating local and cross-border trade for continued economic development. Across its two main ports, the Port of Walvis Bay and the Port of Lüderitz, Namport offers a range of specialised berthing facilities including pilotage, navigation, bunkering, towage, and harbour response – to just name a few. Once vessels are berthed at ports in Namibia, Namport provides cargo handling services, as well as provides places for ship repairs to take place.  

To best understand the vast role of Namport we must first look at the Port of Walvis Bay which is responsible for handling container imports, exports, and transhipments. These include bulk and break-bulk commodities, and so the port serves as a convenient and fast transit route which connects southern Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The port benefits from a temperate climate and so with the development of world-class infrastructure since Namport was established, the port is now an international shipping hub of choice for those in the southern African region.  

At the Port of Walvis Bay container terminal, Namport handles roughly 750,000 twenty-foot equivalent tons (TEUs) per year, with an approximate throughput capacity of between 350,000 and 400,000 TEUs. The Port of Walvis Bay now is a key stopping place along the south of the continent, with 4 main trade corridors: Trans-Kalahari Corridor, Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor, Trans-Cunene Corridor, and the Trans-Oranje Corridor. These shipping corridors connect both Port of Walvis Bay and Port of Lüderitz with international markets notably spanning Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Angola. Therefore, Namport’s role across the Port of Walvis Bay highlights the reputation of Namibia as a crucial player across international shipping lines and supply chains, which continues to bring investment into the country.   

Supporting the Port of Walvis Bay is the Port of Lüderitz, located just 254 nautical miles to the south. The port is strategically located to provide access to even more southern African markets in the Northern Cape. The Port of Lüderitz is home to a 500-metre quay, two 60-tonne Haulers and a 45-tonne Reacher stacker. These features ensure that the port can provide essential cargo handling facilities alongside the existing cargo and shipping lines serviced by the Port of Walvis Bay. Namport recognised the growing demand for bulk facilities which could cater towards the mining industry, and so the company has commissioned a feasibility study to enhance its port offerings and allow the Port of Lüderitz to improve its effectiveness in the bulk cargo handling sector for the benefit of its customers.  

As we have seen, Namport’s goal is to raise the efficiency and reputation of its cargo-handling facilities through port developments. These developments have been essential as the cargo market continues to soar across Africa. However, alongside its cargo operations, Namport has been putting vital developments into the tourism and cruise line aspects of the two ports. Walvis Bay is a hotspot for tourism with visitors coming from across the world to see the idyllic scenery and rich culture that Namibia has to offer. Consequently, Namport has put plans in place which outline the expansion of a new waterfront and marine development at Walvis Bay. The development will enhance the waterfront and give a facelift to the current yacht club with the hope of bringing in more cruise lines to the ports of Namibia to further enhance the country’s economy.  

For Namport sustainability is a vital part of its operations to ensure it does not cause significant environmental impacts. This commitment to sustainability was highlighted in January when the Port of Walvis Bay welcomed the world’s largest and most sustainable SSCV (semi-submersible crane vessel), the SSCV Sleipner on its maiden voyage. The ship, owned and operated by Heerema Marine Contractors, once docked at the port, underwent essential procedures including a rundown, crew change and bunkering. The vessel’s call at the port highlights Namport’s partnerships with companies promoting sustainability within the maritime sector, as the vessel, which produces its own propulsion sustainable, marks a big turning point for the maritime industry. Namport remains committed to developing the maritime sector and its operations across both ports whilst remaining conscious of the environmental impacts of the industry in which it operates. Therefore, through the supporting partnership with SSCV, Namport reaffirms its commitment to facilitating efficient and seamless maritime operations in the region whilst championing sustainability.  

Overall, Namport has served the ports of Namibia for the last three decades and transported each port it’s a vital hub serving international shipping corridors around the southern coast of Africa. With essential management, cargo, cruise line and developmental operations, Namport has worked every day to establish both the Port of Walvis Bay and the Port of Lüderitz into thriving hubs of maritime excellence. As the port looks towards the future, we look forward to seeing how it continues to grow its tourism market as more and more cruise liners choose Namibia as a vital stopping point.  

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment