The maiden export of Namibian and South African grown table grapes from the Walvis Bay harbour, marked a significant milestone in Namibia’s pursuit of becoming a regional logistics hub.
The event on Wednesday signalled Namibia’s commitment to economic development and poverty alleviation in the region.
During the event, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Namibian Ports Authority (Namport), Andrew Kanime, stressed the importance of extending the company’s focus and market beyond Namibia’s borders to landlocked neighbouring nations.
He stated that Namibia had set a courageous goal of becoming the logistics hub for the region as part of its overarching intent for economic development.
“This marks a great and historical occasion for the Namibia Grape Company, the Namibian logistics industry, Namport, and our entire country. To effectively compete for the landlocked regional market, we must present a value that justifies being the ports of choice and the logistics hub for the region,” he said.
Kanime stated that the essential components of a competitive logistics hub include efficient, cost-effective, and extensively connected ports, a responsive support infrastructure, and a supportive regulatory environment.
He stressed that a cost-effective and efficient end-to-end logistics value chain would determine the choice of trade corridors and ports.
He pointed out that it was not sufficient to rely solely on patriotism, and if the Namibian logistics industry could not meet the requirements of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, it could not expect clients like the Namibian Grape Company to use Namibian ports for export to international markets.
For years, Namibian-grown grapes had been transported to Cape Town for export to Europe due to perceived uncompetitiveness in terms of costs and logistics efficiency.
However, the vessels that transported these grapes from Cape Town to Europe passed through Namibian ports on their way, highlighting the missed opportunities for the Namibian logistics sector.
Kanime acknowledged that the Port of Lüderitz had attempted to handle these exports in the past but faced high costs that made it unsustainable.
He stressed that Wednesday’s occasion was an opportunity to showcase Namibia’s ability to cheaply, competitively and efficiently deliver goods.
Kanime commended Namibia’s role in rescuing neighbouring ports under operational strain and called for meticulous delivery at the lowest possible cost for the 2023 grape export season to support the homegrown logistics sector.
He also stressed the need for unity in the Namibian logistics chain.
“A single weak link could result in losses. Namport is, however, up to any challenge,” Kanime stated.