By John Ekongo
The governments of Namibia and Zimbabwe this week signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the lease of land at the port of Walvis Bay for a dry port facility following top-level talks.
This comes shortly after President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s visit to Zimbabwe, where he is understood to have offered President Robert Mugabe a carte blanche to use the Walvis Bay harbour for the import and export of goods.
According to the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Namibia, Chipo Zindoga, Zimbabwe has been using the port of Durban in South Africa and Beira in Mozambique for most of its trade.
Of late though, these two harbours have experienced increased traffic and congestion often resulting in delays in imports and exports for Zimbabwe, which according to Zindoga resulted in financial losses for Zimbabwean traders.
With the signing of the MoU, it is widely believed that the port of Walvis Bay would ease congestion while at the same time complement Zimbabwe’s trading ability. A number of Namibian companies also stand to benefit from the deal.
Companies set to benefit from the agreement are those in the transportation and logistics, storage and warehousing sectors as well as the oil service industries.
The MoU will cover all aspects of leasing land at the port, Zindoga revealed.
A delegation from Zimbabwe is expected in the country soon to finalise details of the bilateral lease agreement.
“It is my hope that we will proceed with haste to conclude the lease agreement. I can assure you that Zimbabwe will not be found wanting in that regard,” the ambassador assured Works and Transport Minister, Helmut Angula, who signed the agreement on behalf of Namibia.
Angula validated the MoU as a ‘solid’ attempt to foster inter-regional trade and subsequently lead to harmonised trading and economic growth within the Southern African community.
This is the second such MoU between Namibia and a sister SADC country, Botswana being the first. It is understood that in the not too distant future, Zambia might contemplate a similar venture.