An effective transport infrastructure is the backbone of a vibrant economy and Namibia’s favourable geographical position on the south western coast of the African continent bordering with Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, puts it in good stead to be the transport and logistics hub in southern Africa. The country has vast open space, with a total surface area of 824 269km² and is Africa’s most sparsely populated country. Due to its leading advocate of regional economic integration, its membership to SACU and SADC ensures access to a market of over 55 million and 300 million people, respectively; with a combined GDP in excess of US$ 200 billion and US$ 662.7 billion, respectively. The port of Walvis Bay is ideally located for shipments to and from Europe and the Americas.
SADC region currently relies heavily on South African ports or underdeveloped and congested ports in other countries in the region. Namibia with its well-developed ports, well maintained road infrastructure and other favourable conditions stands to benefit from the continued growth and prosperity of Africa in general.
Despite being smaller than regional ports, the harbour benefits from higher efficiency, shorter waiting times and additional facilities such as a dry dock for oil and gas rig repairs. The Port of Walvis Bay has become the preferred African West coast port and logistics corridor for southern and central African logistics operations. The Walvis Bay Port is being expanded (from 350,000 TEUs to 750,000 TEUs per year) and expectations about this are quite high among major shipping lines.
Plans are also underway to expand the Lüderitz Port and strengthen its connectivity with the Northern Cape Province of South Africa in terms of economic activity. Potential transport cargos for Lüderitz are manganese ore, zinc products (zinc ore and ingot of zinc) and fruit (table grapes and dates). The cargo handling volume at Lüderitz Port could currently be exceeding 500,000 tons.
In order to transform Namibia into an international logistics hub for SADC region, all elements related to transport and logistics (road, railway, maritime & port and aviation), should be aimed to be up to “international standard”. Therefore, the plans of developing a Master Plan for the International Logistics Hub for SADC Countries in Namibia is underway and is expected to be completed by 2025.
Namibia has a well-established road infrastructure, regarded as one of the best on the continent. The majority of towns and communities can be reached via a road network comprising more than 44,500 km. The country is linked by road to Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo. Namibia has 4 corridors Trans-Kalahari via Bostwana, Trans-Caprivi, Trans-Cunene via Angola to DRC and Trans-Oranje via South Africa that links to SADC countries. The Trans-Kalahari and the Trans-Caprivi highways provide a fast and comfortable road link between the Namibian port of Walvis Bay on the Atlantic coast and her landlocked neighbouring countries. The highways provide a regional transport corridor intended to reduce shipping times for imports and exports from the neighbouring countries to the markets of Western Europe and the Americas by at least five days compared to traditional routes in southern Africa.
Namibia has also committed to upgrading 1,480 km of roads over the next five years which will improve accessibility across the country. Despite such extensive road network, most of the country’s road infrastructure has been in existence prior to independence and are in urgent need of rehabilitation and maintenance
The Trans-Kalahari Corridor comprises a tarred road linking the Port of Walvis Bay with Botswana and the industrial powerhouse of South Africa, Gauteng. The Corridor stretches over 1,900 km along Walvis Bay – Windhoek – Gaborone -Johannesburg/Pretoria. It is supported by a railway line from the Port of Walvis Bay to Gobabis (via Windhoek), where transhipment facilities are available, and continues from Lobatse in Botswana. The Corridor is complemented by the Maputo (Mozambique) Corridor on the east coast of Africa, thus forming a transport corridor over the entire breadth of southern Africa. The corridor aims to simplify cross-border transactions and customs operations along the Corridor.
Government is therefore upgrading of railway network to double the volume of cargo transported between Walvis Bay and Kranzberg, Kranzberg and Oshikango, and Kranzberg and Windhoek. At present, government is rehabilitating the track between Kranzberg and Tsumeb.
Namibia is also strategically placed to take advantage of the air transport industry. Plans are underway to expand its international airport at Windhoek while the Walvis Bay airport has recently been extended to allow larger planes to land there.
The Liberalization of air services (open skies) is an international policy concept that calls for the liberalization of the rules and regulations of the international aviation industry, especially commercial aviation in order to create a free market environment for the airline industry. For open skies to become effective, a bilateral or multilateral Air Transport Agreement has to be concluded between two or more nations. This is expected to be addressed in the anticipated Logistic Master Plan. Liberalization generally fosters greater competition among airlines, resulting in lower fares for travellers, greater numbers of people travelling, more choices of airlines and routes, and improvement of service levels. Liberalization of air services has the potential to make huge impacts on the aviation sector, tourism sector, trade, investment and productivity.
Namibia has invested in the modernisation and expansion of telecommunications. International satellite services link Namibia to telecommunication services worldwide. Telecom Namibia Ltd is Namibia’s national communications operator. Namibia boasts a 98% digital telecommunications infrastructure, which provides direct dialling to most places in the world.
Namibia has cellular coverage in most towns, and road coverage along virtually all the major routes in the country. Namibia’s cellular network service providers are MTC, operational since 1995, and Leo, previously known as Cell One, which was re-launched in October 2009.Telecommunications operators have installed a fibre optic cable technology across the country.
The newly established Communication Regulatory Authority (CRAN) regulates the Namibian communications, broadcasting and postal services.
Namibia is an arid country that is regularly afflicted by droughts. Expansion of industrial and agricultural activities coupled with population growth in the urban areas continues to put pressure on water resources and the situation is estimated to remain critical for the next coming years.
The bulk of water supply in Namibia is sourced from the Hardap, Von Bach, Swakop, Goreangab and Naute dams. Other small dams are the Omatako, Friedenau, Otjivero and Oanob dam. These are supplemented by perennial rivers on the borderlands of Namibia's far north and south. However, these rivers are far away from the population centers, hence water supply is critical in most parts of the country especially the central part which includes Windhoek. NamWater, is the only bulk water supplier in Namibia.