THE quick turnaround times in port for especially cargo vessels guaranteed by the Namibian Ports Authority and a steady increase in cargo volumes despite the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the state owned company’s credit rating being upgraded for a third consecutive year.
International credit rating company, Fitch Ratings, has upgraded the National Long-Term Rating of the Namibian Ports Authority to ‘AAA(zaf)’/Stable Outlook from ‘AA-(zaf)’/Stable Outlook.
The company also affirmed Namport’s National Short Term Rating at ‘F1+’.
According to Tino Hanabeb, the Commercial Executive of Namport, the upgrade from AA to AAA by Fitch Ratings means that Namport is steadily paying back the loan it took from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to finance the construction of amongst others, the new container terminal.
“The upgrade simply means that Namport is currently servicing the AfDB debt from its own resources. Namport is not relying on the Namibian Government as the main shareholder to service the debt despite the government’s guarantee to stand in for 80% of the loan amount,” Hanabeb said.
Since the new container terminal was brought into operation and the subsequent increase in throughput of cargo volumes, Namport’s capacity to keep on servicing the debt from its own resources was solidified.
This strengthening of the state owned company’s position carries the approval of the main international rating companies such as Fitch and Moody’s.
Namibia kept its harbours open for cargo to assist neighbouring landlocked countries to continue trading despite the COVID-19 lockdowns that were imposed by these countries.
President Hage Geingob at the end of last week during a virtual summit with other African heads of state said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought interdependency of Namibia and its neighbours into the limelight.
The summit was convened by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union.
“Namibia will continue to keep ports and harbours open in order to facilitate the movement of goods to landlocked neighbours and beyond,” Geingob informed his counterparts.
Lockdown measures applied in those countries resulted in the closure of several of the major harbours in the southern African region.
Staged lifting of these measures also resulted in congestion at the major harbours.
All the major shipping lines chose Walvis Bay as an alternative port to discharge and take on cargo which strengthened the Namibian Ports Authority’s position in the global logistics market and resulted in the upgrade by Fitch Ratings for a third consecutive year.
The arrival of three more container vessels scheduled at the port of Walvis Bay for their maiden calls during the remainder of May is further strengthening the notion that the port is growing in significance as a smart alternative for landlocked countries in Southern Africa.