Namport yesterday advertised a tender for a feasibility study for the proposed multibillion dollar seaport in northern Namibia, with experts speculating that the envisaged port will most likely cost over N$10 billion.
Namibia currently has two ports – one in Lüderitz and the other in Walvis Bay.
The advertisement placed yesterday in the local media calls for “bona fide tenderers” to carry out a detailed feasibility study for a proposed new seaport along the Skeleton Coast, at either Cape Fria or Angra Fria.
“The service includes, but is not limited to, investigatory works such as onshore and offshore geotechnical studies. The main objective of the feasibility study is to assess the feasibility of developing a third large seaport in northern Namibia, with regard to engineering, commercial, environmental, operational, socio-economic and financial aspects,” reads the notice.
Namport’s port engineer Elzevir Gelderbloem yesterday said the feasibility study, which will be done on behalf of the Ministry of Works and Transport, would have to be completed within 24 months.
With both the Lüderitz and Walvis Bay harbours currently being expanded and claims that the two are currently under-utilised, there are concerns that an additional port might worsen the situation.
But Gelderbloem said the feasibility would address all such concerns.
“The main purpose of the feasibility study is to answer some of these questions which you have posed. The proposed new seaport could serve northern Namibia where there is currently no port,” said Gelderbloem.
He said one of the potential “anchor businesses” for the proposed port would be iron-ore exports from the numerous iron-ore deposits in northern Namibia.
When asked how the planned project would be funded, Gelderbloem said: “For example, the study will look at PPP (public-private partnership) frameworks as one potential means of funding.”
Foreign firms are expected to dominate the arena both during the feasibility study and the actual construction of the port, if the project gets the green light, because of the limited expertise among local companies when it comes to mega projects such as port construction.
Two pre-feasibility studies on the establishment of a third port was already done in 2006.
In a bid to include locals, Namport said, as per its standard tender requirements, foreign-owned companies that intend to apply for the tender are required to enter into a joint venture with Namibian companies and allocate at least 51 percent effective shareholding in the joint venture to Namibians, of whom 30 percent must be previously disadvantaged Namibians.
The construction of a port in northern Namibia will come as a relief to the country’s lucrative horse mackerel industry, as the horse mackerel schools are mostly found along the northern Namibian coast. A port in that area means fishing vessels will not have to sail hundreds of kilometres to Walvis Bay to access onshore processing facilities.
Research conducted by numerous marine scientists has confirmed that two distinct species of horse mackerel occur in Namibian and Angolan waters, namely the Cape horse mackerel and the Cunene horse mackerel.
Both species are common in northern Namibia and southern Angolan waters and their distribution is dependent on where the cold Benguela Current and warm (Angolan Current) water masses meet.
The exorbitant price of other fish has subjected most Namibians in rural areas to eating mainly horse mackerel.