Zambia remains a strategic partner to Namibia's SADC gateway ambitions
Despite about 400 Namibian trucks being impounded by Zambian authorities for carrying the recently protected mukula tree earlier in the year, transit volumes for goods to and from Zambia through Namibia have increased to an all new high of 40 000 tonnes for the month of September 2017. The impounding of the namibain trucks caused an outcry both by the transport sector in Namibia such that the matter had to be escalated to higher offices for political intervention. The trade increase comes at an opportune time when the two governments are hard at work smoothing over a relationship which was affected as a result of the impounding of the trucks by Zambian authorities.
The most recent statistics from Walvis Bay Corridor Group, tasked to promote the Walvis Bay - Ndola - Lubumbashi Development Coridor, indicate that import and export volumes for the Zambian market via the port of Walvis Bay grew by 15% over the last financial year. This most certainly shows confidence in the potential of the Walvis Bay - Ndola - Lubumbashi Development Coridor, especially so in Zambia.
Compared to its inception, Mr Smith (CEO of the Walvia Bay Corridor Group) explains that the Zambian market has achieved a better balance between imports and exports over the last ten years. This has also enabled a variety of commodities to be established to support the balance of imports and exports via the port of Wlavis Bay for the Zambian market, he states.
The Walvis Bay Corridor Group is the Namibian Governments vehicle to establish itself as the gateway into Southern Africa, competing with the port of Durban. The Walvis Bay - Ndola - Lubumbashi Development Coridor links the port of Walvis Bay with Zambia, southern Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe. The corridor runs via the Zambezi region in north-eastern Namibia and enters Zambia via the Katima Mulilo bridge. The corridor was officially opened in 1999 and in 2004, the bridge completed which has been a strategic piece of insfrastructure for this corridor. It stretches over 2,500 km and is supported by a railway line between Walvis Bay and Grootfontein, where transhipment services are available.
As part of its mandate to increase awareness for the corridor, the WBCG established an office in Lusaka to support growth in the Zambian market.
A follow up Walvis Bay - Ndola - Lubumbashi Development Coridor tripartite meeting between DRC, Zambia and Namiba will take place in Ndola next month. This body is established to regulate and evaluate the full implementation solutions for various corridors and find ways to improve efficiency thereby reducing the cost of trade in the SADC region.
With the above, it is clear that despite the recent strained diplomatic relations between Zambia and Namibia, Zambia remains a strategic partner to the establishment of Walvis Bay Corridor Group as a the gateway into Southern Africa.
This in itself presents a massive opportunity for existing and new Zambian businesses to tap into such initiatives and provide services aimed at making the corridor more efficient and reduce trade costs in the region. Services such as clearing and forwarding, fuel stations and containers, accomodation etc are some of the areas that entrepreneurs can foster to help create employment as well as improve trade in the region. There also remains room for partnerships to build more infrasture to support the smooth functioning of the corridor.