by PD Lawton , 4 August 2019
Despite the worst drought in many years,despite various embargoes and despite severe poverty these are happy and hopeful times in Namibia. This ancient and beautiful land stretches along the Atlantic coast of south western Africa where the Benguela current washes the Atlantic waves against the world`s largest sand dunes of the magnificent Namib Desert. This arid country, famous for its diamond wealth, is industrializing!
Namibia has a tragic history from its colonial past that saw the complete subjugation of its people. But today things are changing at an unprecedented rate. Under the government of President Hage Geingob the future is looking so good. President Geingob is an exceptional man and is greatly loved and appreciated by Namibians.
On 2nd of August this year, President Geingob inauguarated the extention of the port of Walvis Bay. The port was originally built as a whaling station hence the name which is Afrikaans for whale. The modernization project was begun in 2014 and completed on time. It has been an enormous operation which has required reclaiming land from the sea in order to construct what is now a world class container terminal capable of accommodating cargo freight from around the world. The port can now offer the very latest in technology, equipped with the most modern cranes and a system of the highest quality. It is a rival to any modern port as it has the capacity to berth cargo vessels of over 8000 dwts ( dead weight tonnage) .
The port is a vital component of Namibia`s key infrastructure projects to develop the economy. It will provide a lifeline to international markets for neighbouring landlocked countries of Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and as far away as the DRC.
The construction work was carried out by China Harbour Engineering and financed jointly by the Africa Development Bank, the Government of Namibia and Namport, the Namibian Port Authority.
China Harbour Engineering have employed 2000 local people and provided 600 with technical skills training , raging from engineering to computer-based data skills, all of which have positively impacted the local economy. This has been something that the Namibian government has specifically requested of private Chinese companies, that they are welcome but that they must employ and train Namibian citizens in order to help with the high unemployment. Any African government can request the same. It is in fact Namibian law that Namibian sub-contractors and nationals be included as well as procurement of Namibian materials. The project actually spent 1.2 billion Namibian dollars on Namibian materials and sub contractors.
The development of Walvis Bay Port is part of the economic transformation planned for the entire SADC ( Southern African Development Community) region that is embracing the Belt and Road Initiative.
President Geingob shares his birthday .
Photo credits:Namibian Presidency
The day after the inauguaration of the port was the 3rd of August and the birthday of President Geingob. He celebrated it in his characteristically kind and humble way by spending the day sharing cake and conversation with the residents of a home for the elderly. It was his 78th birthday, may he have many, many more to come!