Delegation Preaches Gospel of ‘Change’

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By Desie Heita

Goteborg, Sweden –

The campaign team for the US Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, would have been very pleased at the Namibian transport delegation to Sweden. Not that the delegation is on a political campaign trail, but as with Obama, the delegation wants ‘change’, –

“a change in the [international market] perception towards the Namibian Walvis Bay port which until now has been, albeit wrongly, that the port is too small with no capacity to handle international markets’ requirements”.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the 11-member delegation travelled deep into Sweden to the country’s largest port city of Goteborg, after criss-crossing Stockholm, and the many small surrounding towns, including that of Visteras, and Orebro located 240 km east of Stockholm.

In all the towns, the message has been the same: “Walvis Bay port is the affordable and quickest alternative route to reach the Southern African market”.

Sebby Kankondi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Ports Authority, said development to turn the Walvis Bay port into a national port has been so successful that there is excess capacity to make it the gateway for Southern Africa.

However, it is not all about selling the port of Walvis Bay as the alternative route into Southern Africa to the Swedish people.

“Meeting various industry players also gave us insight into how the Swedish market operates. It has given us [pointers] on which the Namibian industry can work, to think out of the box and catch up with the rest of the world [trends],” said Nico Oberholzer, who represents the Walvis Bay Port Users Association in the delegation, and is the General Manager of Barloworld Logistics.

The Walvis Bay Port Users Association represents all entities associated with cargo, freight, and shipping activities in the port of Walvis Bay.

The Walvis Bay Corridor Group also established connections with the Swedish Association of Road Haulage Companies for possible future cooperation on enterprise training and capacity building exercises for road transport operators.

The Swedish Association of Road Haulage represents the truck transport sector of which most are owner-drivers and businesses with one or two trucks in their ‘fleet’.

The port of Walvis Bay is undergoing a major extension and expansion programme under its 2008-2012 master plan, valued at more than N$1billion, which would see the port deepened to -15 metres from the current -12,8 metres, and the extension of the commercial quay from 1,34 km to 2,1 km.

After the completion of the expansion programme, the port would feature dedicated fishing quaysides, longer berths and sufficient storage capacity for both bulk and containers. There would also be a dedicated quay to the fishing industry.

In Stockholm and surrounding towns, the delegation met representatives of the Swedish International Freight Association, the Chief Executive Officer for the Ports of Sweden, Mikael Castanius, and the management of Atlas Copco, a manufacturer of mining and drilling equipment currently exporting to Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The delegation also met the management of the Swedish airline, aerospace, and defence intelligence equipment manufacturers, SAAB, and with the Swedish Association of Road Haulage Companies.

Members of the Namibian transport delegation are Kankondi; Elias Mwenyo, Manager for Sales and Marketing at NamPort; Walter Hanke from the Namibia Association of Freight Forwarders; Titus Haimbili, the Chief Executive Officer of TransNamib; Jack Dempsey, General Manager for Operations of TransNamib; Johny Smith, the Business Development Executive for the Walvis Bay Corridor Group; Agnetha Mouton, also of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group; and Gregory Camm, Branch Manager for Woker Freight Services, Namibia.

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