By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The country’s trade and economic development capacity was yesterday substantially strengthened by the American Government with a U$400 000 grant to the Namibian Ports Authority in the capital. A formal agreement to this effect was signed by the American Ambassador to Namibia, Joyce Barr, and the Managing Director of NamPort, Sebby Kankondi. The grant will be used to fund NamPort’s efforts to improve the efficiency, security and petroleum receiving capabilities of the country’s two main harbours. “Infrastructure is critical to economic growth. As such, my government has made transportation sector activities a priority in Namibia and the Southern Africa region. By funding road and rail improvements and expansions, the Namibian Government has clearly demonstrated its commitment to develop transhipment corridors underway in Trans-Caprivi and the Trans-Kalahari corridors,” Ambassador Barr said during the agreement signing ceremony at the American Cultural Centre. According to Barr, the two ports are at the heart of these two road corridors and the upgrading thereof is essential. “We commend NamPort for the steps it has already taken to modernize Namibia’s ports because the company has also demonstrated its commitment to leveraging information technology systems for greater management and monitoring. NamPort has also recognized that increased traffic volumes and movements into and within the ports will require greater security monitoring and controls. The technical assistance grant is intended to engage American technologies, expertise and best practices in the company’s modernization programme,” she said. Barr expressed the belief that the project will help to introduce American companies to the growing Namibian market in this sector and to explore US products and services. “NamPort will select an American firm to conduct a study because we believe this will be beneficial and result in close long-term working relationships. This project is a perfect fit with the US mission’s goal of fostering economic prosperity and development in Namibia. It will have a positive impact on Namibia’s regional and global trade and improve the country’s transportation infrastructure,” she concluded. NamPort Managing Director Kankondi thanked the American Government for the funding to modernize his company’s technical structures. “With improved equipment, we strive to capture the transit cargo through our ports on its way to our hinterland consisting of Botswana, Angola and other neighbouring countries. The assistance is needed to guide us in shaping our IT and vessels systems to the benefit of all stakeholders involved in order to help eliminate all frustrations hampering sound working relations. The idea is to work together specifically with South Africa instead of competing with one another, to help decrease the costs of transport between our two countries,” Kankondi said. According to him, Namibian ports need to be made safe for foreign ships especially in view of the events of 9/11 in America. “We have to protect our clients against possible attacks in our harbours and at the same time we aim to make Namibia a regional transport hub to the benefit of all other countries in the SADC region,” Kankondi said.
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