Namibian Ports Authority (Namport): Underpinning Namibian Ambitions

With a population of slightly over 2.5 million people, Namibia is one of Africa’s least populous countries. But that hasn’t limited the country’s ambition. Since gaining its independence 32 years ago, the country has managed to make a successful transition to democracy, dramatically improve the living standard of its citizens, and to diversify and internationalize its trade so that its top five trading partners include the likes of Switzerland, Italy, and China.

On this last point, one organisation can take much of the credit. Namport, Namibia’s national port authority since 1994, has been central to the country’s growing international trade. In the 20 years between 2000 and 2020, for example, Namport contributed to an increase of over 400% in this SADC country’s exports. Business Excellence wanted to learn more about how Namport was able to fuel such a consistent level of high growth.


History and Scope

Having been founded in 1994, Namport is approaching its 30th birthday in good shape. A fully-owned entity of the Namibian government, it has responsibility for the ports of Wavis Bay and Lüderitz, and a Syncrolift dry dock facility in Walvis Bay. This puts Namport at the centre of the country’s trade, its competitiveness relative to other countries in the SADC region, and ensuring that all of this is achieved with minimum environmental impact.

The signs are that it is delivering on its mandate. Results from 2021/22 financial year which finished in March 2022, show that total cargo handled by Namport reached 6.5 million metric tons - a 6% annual increase. Furthermore, vessel visits increased by 22 percent to 289 vessels, indicating that Namport’s promotion of Wavis Bay and Lüderitz as preferred ports in the region is paying dividends. Even more remarkable was that this growth - impressive in a normal year - came against the backdrop of Covid-19, a global container shortage, and blank sailings.



Investment and Expansion

A key driver of Namport’s growth, even in challenging times, has been the high-quality governance and planning that underpin its hard work. As an example of this, since 1990, Namibia has implemented five separate national development plans (NDPs), which provide Namport with the incremental improvements expected in each year of the plan, as well as outlining the milestones which will be made in its ports at each juncture.

An example of one recent investment which will contribute to the ongoing growth of Namport, was the N$4.2 billion (approximately US$90 million) development of the Port of Walvis Bay’s new Container Terminal, adding a capacity of about 750,000 20-foot equivalent unit (TEU), giving the port significant excess capacity and new modern facilities. The terminal port also increases the port’s bulk and break-bulk handling capacity by freeing up the existing container terminal to utilized as a multi-purpose terminal.

The terminal’s arrival places Namibia on a strong footing to positively compete with other players in the region, as well as giving Namport the additional capacity to handle cargo - around 30% of the total throughput - destined for the country’s landlocked neighbours in the SADC region. Namport is currently in negotiations with several large international terminal operators to outsource its operations over a 20-year concession.


Technologically Advanced

To achieve its goal of becoming the most competitive ports in Africa, Namport is putting technology at the heart of its operations. This involves transitioning to a ‘smart port’ where the workplace and all of its processes are digitally-enabled. Namport’s ICT department is responsible for implementing its ICT master plan, which aims to improve port productivity and efficiency, minimise terminal congestion and establish a fully-integrated ICT system.

Over the past year, master plan milestones which were fulfilled included the completion and ‘go-live’ for remaining container terminal-related ICT projects and the necessary systems to support remote working arrangements, such as access control and smart rail and smart stack systems. Namport also began implementing the general cargo and syncrlif operating system, which is projected for compilation in the coming year.


Accentuating Sustainability

Sustainability combined with governance is one of Namport’s five key values. As an illustration of this, it has committed to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), prioritising five SDGs in particular: Zero hunger, Quality education, good health and well-being, and partnership for goals. The extent of its commitment in these areas is outlined in the Harambee Development Plan, where Namport has committed to a range of ambitious KPIs.

On protection of the environment, Namport is also pushing the envelope. The group has integrated its SHEQ Management System with ISO standards and accordingly aligned all its operational and systems procedures. It has also begun reporting its annual carbon emissions as part of a new annual sustainability report. The next step is to develop baseline carbon footprint targets for Namport,


Strategic Supply Chain Partners

Namport, CEO, Andrew Kanime comments that the volume performance is certainly commendable given the tough operating environment that characterized the previous financial year. The positive report could have not been achieved without a range of local, regional and international partners, all of whom deserve mention. In terms of the equipment involved in making the day-to-day operations run smoothly at its ports, it calls on both Forklifts and Allied Equipment CC and Liebherr Africa for forklifts; maritime and logistics services are provided by SeaRail, C. Steinweg Group, Manica Group Namibia, and Oynetec (Pty) Ltd, and Kemanya Logistics and freight services.

The not inconsiderable amount of diving and underwater work required at a port calls on the likes of Walvis Bay Diving, and B -4 Engineering and Diving. These divers often work with maritime repairs specialist, BOSSS Marine. Other support services are provided by Syntex Technologies (information technology), NEC Power & Pumps (Pty) Ltd and Namib Diesel (energy and pumping), and Rent –A-Drum (Pty) Ltd (hygiene and cleaning).


Corporate Outlook

Namibian Ports Authority's ultimate goal is to run the best-run seaports in Africa and to achieve this it has reviewed its corporate strategy; Andrew Kanime, said the ports authority has reevaluated its corporate strategy and set out strategic initiatives for the next five years. It has set its vision through four key strategic themes, namely, building institutional capacity, driving operational efficiencies, enhancing customer and stakeholder value, and optimizing sustainable growth.

This will be achieved by a combination of internal retraining, adoption of the right technologies, and process restructurings.  Namport will also explore external opportunities in the form of PPPs and Partnership with other well-established agencies in the SADC region and internationally

These PPP initiatives will provide much-needed external capital for the upgrade and expansion of, amongst others, warehouses and other cargo handling facilities in its ports whilst simultaneously allowing Namport to focus on other much-needed investments in equipment, systems and other common user core infrastructure.

Some of the projects explored include partnerships with one of the largest port operators in the SADC in Transnet, the development of a common user manganese export terminal at the Port of Lüderitz, and not to forget the green hydrogen production and export from both the North Port and the Port of Lüderitz.

The MoU signed between Namport and the Port of Rotterdam for Namport to become a green hydrogen hub for Europe says everything about its ambitions. Rotterdam expects 20 million tonnes of hydrogen per annum to pass through its port’s industrial complex by the year 2050, and the MoU is a statement of confidence in both Namport and Namibia. In less than a decade, this means that Namibia - through Namport - could be exporting energy to Europe: Truly a milestone to make everyone sit up and notice