Namibia’s infrastructure is some of the best on the African continent and is also currently seeing a number of upgrades and expansions to its harbours, airports, railways and roads.
Once complete, the Namibian government hopes to make the country an economic hub in Africa with facilitating trade between the continent and Europe. It is foreseen that an increased mutual flow of trade between SADC countries and Namibia will take root in the years to come. The development of Namibian infrastructure is vital to the country’s trade status. Namibia also boasts highly developed energy and water network infrastructure as well as advanced postal and telecommunications systems.
The main export outlet, Walvis Bay port, one of two in Namibia and the only deepwater port, has seen a great increase in trade recently and is packed to capacity as a result. It handles over five-million tonnes of cargo per year and over 20 percent of that is containerised. One mitigating factor was the closure of Luanda’s port in Angola, which began repairs. Walvis Bay is one of the preferred entries in the SADC region due to its accessibility to neighbouring countries and lowered transport time. From port entry, containers are transported by the three arteries, Namibia’s Trans-Kalahari, Trans- Caprivi and Trans-Kunene Highways, to Botswana and South Africa. Walvis Bay also has the main concentration of the country’s fishing infrastructure.
Walvis Bay port is currently under expansion after Namport announced in 2009 that they would be spending N$3-billion on the upgrade. The plan is to deepen the harbour from 12.8m to 14.5m in order to increase capacity. A new quay is also under way with a capacity to handle 500,000 containers (TEU), as well as a waterfront with shopping malls and allocation for private beachfront properties. The project is expected to be complete in 2016.
Landlocked SADC countries such as Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia, have been given the opportunity to lease land at Walvis Bay for their own dry-port facilities, which allows for cargo transport and increased trade throughout the region. This falls in line with the ideals of a SADC common market and the free trade area. Zambia and Botswana have seen the value in trans-shipment from Namibia as it’s far shorter. Branches of The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) have opened in Johannesburg and Lusaka. These market the regional Trans-Kalahari, Trans-Caprivi and Trans-Kunene corridors for transport and logistics.
Lüderitz is Namibia’s second port and has also seen increased activity as a result of the rise in the fishing industry. The extensive upgrade of Lüderitz began after an N$85- million investment from government, as part of the Namibian Port Authority fouryear modernisation plan for the two ports which had a collective budget allocation of US$77-million. This included the addition of quays for larger ships and cruise ships, as well as the modernisation of cargo handling facilities. There is a third harbour planned for Mowe Bay, which is north of Walvis Bay, and would serve the fishing fleet.
Air transport is vital to Namibia’s economy and the country boasts world-class civil aviation facilities, with Air Namibia, a Trans- Namib subsidiary, as the national carrier. There are over 135 airports and 22 have tarred runways. The international airport is just outside of Windhoek. Coupled with the upgrade of Walvis Bay, is the upgrade of Walvis Bay Airport which included the lengthening and widening of the runway, as well as the upgrade of air traffic systems and instrumentation. This provides for large cargo airplanes as well as commercial airplanes up to the B737-200 series.
Walvis Bay Airport is one of only a handful of airports in the region to have specialised landing instrumentation technology which allow movements in any weather. There are now direct flights between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Walvis Bay on Air Namibia and SA Express.
Major airports also include Lüderitz and Keetmanshoop which are both equipped for wide-bodied aircraft. Air Namibia has domestic scheduled flights to Lüderitz, Mpacha, Ondangwa, Oranjemund, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Windhoek. International destinations include Cape Town, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Luanda, Maun and Victoria Falls. There is now also a direct flight between Windhoek and London Gatwick, connecting in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Namibia boasts an extensive road transportation network which is well maintained. The vast network reaches over 64,800km. A tarred highway system of 4,600km connects the majority of the country’s economic hubs with the SADC neighbours. The main arteries are the Trans- Caprivi, Trans-Kalahari and Trans-Kunene Highways which were long-haul projects finished at the end of the 1990s and run through to Botswana and South Africa. These two roads have elevated Namibia’s position as a seaport country which is able to provide sea access to its landlocked neighbours.
Trans-Namib operates the railways in Namibia. There has been a recent extension project of the northern railway from Tsumeb to the Angolan border. The German colonial rule established the 2,382km rail network which saw an urgent upgrade from the middle of the 1990s. Rail in Namibia transports millions of tonnes of freight every year and over 100,000 passengers and recent years have seen more investment and improved services. The national railway network links throughout Namibia and to South Africa. There is an improvement in a new link between Aus and Lüderitz.
National energy supplier NamPower is responsible for generating, transmitting and supplying a grid network linked to all major urban areas. Off-grid electricity and renewable energy is vital to economic growth. Namibia has always been a net energy importer and obtains half of its electricity from South Africa. The large Namibian mining industry is a major energy consumer and commercial energy is created from imported oil and coal. The national electricity grid is being used to connect most of the larger population areas. The Kudu gas field offshore is being drilled by Shell after exploration found large gas reserves, making Namibia the next major net exporter of energy.
Water is a precious resource in Namibia and NamWater oversees bulk supply to local authorities. There are a number of large dams in Namibia which supply surface water, as well as the abundant source of the Orange River which is used to supply large agricultural developments.
The telecommunications infrastructure in Namibia is one of the most advanced in Africa. It provides digital and direct dialling facilities in communications including internet, fax, telex, PABX, ISDN and video conferencing. The two cellular service providers are MTC and LEO and have a network reach of most urban centres and along national roadways. There is one fixed line provider, TELECOM Namibia. The WACS landing point is in Swakopmund.
The largest physical infrastructure network in Namibia is Nampost. Services include efficient postal services, savings bank facilities, money transfers, and counter automation.
The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) provides access to media in Namibia, national TV, and radio coverage. Namibia has access to DStv satellite network and upholds a free press. There are a number of independent newspapers, radio stations and a television network. Namibia enjoys wide coverage of media and wide availability of media vehicles, such as televisions and radios.
There are four major commercial banks operating in Namibia, including one central bank, one development bank and Nampost Bank.