As director of Namibian German Centre for Logistics (NGCL) here in Namibia, I am tasked with promoting and highlighting the Importance of our sector. I was therefore very pleased to see that transport and logistics were included in the National Development Plan 5 (NDP 5), just like it had in the previous development plans.
The logistics sector is essential for trade, industrialisation, socio-economic development and regional integration and is therefore seen as a key developmental priority. The sector has been fortunate in the sense that the government is very aware of how critical it is and has invested over the past 20 years in transport infrastructure development (roads, rail, maritime ports, and aviation).
These investments have enabled Namibia to position itself as a logistics hub within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). These investments are also one of the reasons that DAAD together with the Namibia University for Science and Technology established NGCL as a centre of expertise and excellence in the field of logistics.
Namibia has been consistently improving its position on the Global Competitiveness Index, moving to 24 out of 138 countries in 2016/2017. With investments, increased expertise and professionalisation of the Logistics and Transportation sector our country can improve its competitiveness even further.
This will allow the sector to enhance industrial development and contribute substantially to the GDP. It is easier said than done, as the low hanging fruit and quick wins in the sector have all been tackled. We are now looking at a much more holistic and integrated approach to transport planning, as well as the handling of goods, transporting of people and providing services.
This needs to fall within the parameters and the framework of the Transport Master Plan and Master Plan of an International Logistics Hub for SADC Countries.
It all sounds rather grand, but it is essential to be able to achieve these goals and look to 2022 and beyond, to remain competitive. If we as a nation and as a sector can achieve this through partnerships and investments, we will be able to improve targets in; agriculture, mining, manufacturing, fisheries, rural and urban development and tourism.
We therefore need to work together to create a sustainable transport system supporting a world-class logistics hub connecting SADC to international markets by 2022. This means tackling some very basic issues that require a great deal of focus and attention as well as huge continued investment – something that will be a real challenge in the present economic climate of Namibia.
Access to financial resources for our sector, as for every sector in Namibia remains a problem. This causes delays and inadequate funding for development of transport infrastructure, inadequate skills and imbalance between the development and preservation of infrastructure.
Knowledge transference and development of technical skills such as NGCL and NUST offer need to be complemented by private and public enterprises opening their doors to allow new transport and logistics graduates to learn and flourish within this exciting and growing sector.
Without these opportunities the growth, development and ultimately the sustainability of the sector will suffer. If these challenges are met head-on and invested in we can be sure that by 2022 Namibia will have a safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable transport infrastructure, a world-class logistic hub connecting SADC to international markets – one that will be the envy of the region and the engine to our economy.
One final thought with regard to transport and logistics in this country is the pledge by government to reduce the number of road deaths on our roads. As we know, it is pure carnage on our very empty roads and the statistics don’t lie. Should we want to be the logistics hub of SADC, it will need to start with road safety at its very core. Without this, everything else we try to do will be in vain.
* Logan Fransman is the director of the Namibia German Centre for Logistics.