Zam­bia re­mains a strate­gic part­ner to Namibia's SADC gate­way am­bi­tions

Zambian Business Times - - BUSINESS REVIEW -

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.

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