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The Evolution of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group

Posted: 5 Aug 2018

Since inception, the role of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group has been to grow the cargo volumes on the Walvis Bay Corridors. Over the past 18 years, the strategy to achieve that objective has evolved to accommodate the various needs that have arisen.

After Independence, the Port of Walvis Bay was converted from a fishing port to a commercial port. Cargo moving from the port along the corridors started from a zero base, as all the goods destined for Namibia was transported on road via South Africa. Founding members, Namport and TransNamib established the Walvis Bay Corridor Group as a promotion and business development arm to assist with creating awareness of the new route in the regional and global logistics arena.

Developing corridor business
Starting out, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group focused on marketing and promotion activities, it however soon became clear that continuous engagement in our neighbouring countries was needed to secure cargo to and from these markets. This led to the gradual introduction of the business development offices in four key markets.

Although the cargo volumes were growing on the route, challenges experienced on the corridor were hindering repeat business. There arose a need to manage the identification of corridor constraints that were hindering the efficient movement of traffic and the implementation of agreed measures to address the constraints. It is this need that saw the Walvis Bay Corridor Group emerge as a Corridor Management Institution (CMI), whose purpose it is to promote and coordinate efficient corridor development and operations. Assessments and studies were done to identify solutions and funding needed to be sourced to commence various projects that can address the concerns. This is when the WBCG moved into the sphere of Project Management to ensure the projects were carried out successfully. Projects managed by the group include the wellness of the truckers and communities along the route as well as the development of industry and services on the corridors.

Cross border Harmonization
Being transit corridors which link into two or more countries, the WBCG advocated for the establishment of trans-boundary Corridor Management Secretariats whose core function it is to regulate and oversee of the development and implementation of seamless cross-border trade, transport and passenger facilitation measures. These regional Corridor Facilitation Committees are established with the signing of Memoradum Of Understanding (MOU) between the involved countries. The first successful secretaiat established was the Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat (TKCS) in 2007. The WBCG is currently working on the establishment of the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor’s (WBNLDC) secretariat and the African Corridor Management Alliance’s (ACMA) secretariat. These secretariats have the end goal of reducing transport costs and transit times along the regional and continental transport corridors respectively.

The triple P in action
Realising that a bigger challenge existed, the whole industry in Namibia needed to develop quickly in order to compete with the more established corridors in the region. The WBCG focused on getting stakeholders with varied and diverse interests to work together for a common objective and to the mutual benefit of the industry to ensure the development and maintenance of quality infrastructure and services along the corridor. Over time, more members from both the Public and Private sectors were added to ensure this objective was achieved.

The Namibia Logistics Hub Initiative came about when the WBCG advocated for the development of the Logistics sector on behalf of industry to Government and saw the sector prioritised as a National Development goal, which was added to NDP4. Technical assistance and funding was sourced to do studies and develop infrastructure and the capacity within the industry. This Project is managed by the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, proudly driven by the Namibian Private and Public stakeholders, with the support of regional, continental and international bodies.

Moving forward
Created as a service and facilitation centre to promote imports and exports via the Port of Walvis Bay for the SADC region, the WBCG has grown from strength to strength. Throughout the evolution of the WBCG the core mandate has remained the same – to grow the cargo volumes on the corridors. The Institution has had to readjust and add functions over the years to ensure that this core function can be successfully realised.

Supporting this notion, WBCG’s Acting CEO, Clive Smith points out that the Transport and Logistics Industry poses multiple opportunities. “As we are about to conclude the second decade of facilitating and promoting transport and trade along our secure and reliable corridors, our quest to ultimately achieve a robust and lucrative economy continues.”