Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Major Freight and Logistics Developments in Southern Africa This Month

Walvis Bay and Cape Town Witness New Port and Airport Contracts
Shipping News Feature

NAMIBIA – SOUTH AFRICA – A range of logistics and port news from Southern Africa this week, with plans for a free economic zone in Walvis Bay, whilst a huge dredging exercise gets under way in Cape Town, a city whose airport sees the start of a new US direct air freight service.

Firstly that free zone, this week Dubai based port operation DP World signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with Namibia's Nara Namib Free Economic Industrial Zone today to develop a free economic zone for industry and logistics in Walvis Bay to support the growth of Namibia as a regional hub for the region.

The intention is to help Namibia flourish as a centre for industrial operations and logistics, creating opportunities and jobs across multiple sectors including agriculture, fishing, automotive and mining. The facility at Walvis Bay will provide businesses with development ready land for industrial and logistics operations, pre-built warehouses and office accommodation.

The first phase will be a gross developed area of 50 hectares, with expansion opportunities up to 1,500 hectares. The parties have set the second quarter of 2020 as the target date for reaching a definitive agreement on the project. The partners say the move to develop Walvis Bay as a hub will support Namibia by increasing trade flows with surrounding markets such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi and South Africa.

Namibia is in a prime location on the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Corridor and commenting on the cooperation Andre Olivier of Nara Namib said:

”Today's MoU brings us a step closer to fulfilling Namibia's vast trade and economic development prospects, and we look forward to benefiting from DP World's global expertise and network in the areas of parks, economic zones, ports and logistics while creating synergies with our strong local footprint and industry reach."

For its part DP World, has recently had its drawbacks in the African market with its illegal expulsion from the Doraleh container terminal in Djibouti, like Walvis Bay so recently, a port developed with Chinese state funds. Despite this the group says the potential expansion in Namibia complements its already notable presence in other key African nations including Senegal, Rwanda, Mozambique, Egypt, Algeria and Somaliland. Suhail Al Banna, CEO and Managing Director, Middle East and  at DP World commented:

"DP World is pleased to work with Nara Namib to explore how we can work together to enable smarter trade in Namibia. We believe the country has great potential to expand its role as a hub for the region. The Namibian government's recent legislation on free zones and efforts to facilitate greater business provides an attractive environment for investment.”

Meanwhile almost 2,000 kilometres south in the Port of Cape Town the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA)has set about another of its maintenance dredging campaigns to ensure the port provides safe navigational channels and berthing facilities for shipping. TNPA’s fleet renewal programme has boosted the dredging division’s capacity to aid the removal of approximately four million cubic metres of excess material from the seabed every year at South Africa’s ports.

Around 20,000 m3 of sand and sediment is expected to be removed during the current dredging exercise, which started on 28 October. It will restore the design depths leading from the basin to the berths as well as the berth areas alongside South East Quay in the basin. Dredging will also address localised high spots along the long quay in Duncan Dock

The 4,500 m3 grab hopper dredger Italeni and the Isandlwana trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) have been deployed for the exercise. The two dredgers complement each other in that the TSHD is built for high speed sailing to the offshore disposal site while the Italeni improves the accuracy of the final dredged depths. Multi-beam bathymetric surveys will be conducted at regular intervals throughout the campaign to ensure that all areas within Duncan Dock are restored to their original design depths.

Dredged material is pumped into the hopper and can be offloaded by discharging through conical bottom valves. The dredge material within Duncan Dock will be disposed of at the offshore disposal site approved by Department Environmental Affairs.

At the city’s international airport Worldwide Flight Services (WFS), which handles over 65,000 tonnes of cargo a year in South Africa at its handling operations in Johannesburg and Cape Town, has been appointed by United Airlines to provide handling services for the first ever nonstop service by a US carrier between New York/Newark and Cape Town.

WFS in Cape Town has been awarded a three-year contract by United to serve its three-times weekly Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights, which will depart South Africa every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The new route is a seasonal service, commencing 15 December 2019 through to 28 March 2020.

This new contract follows an announcement earlier this month that WFS had become the first air cargo handling company in South Africa to be awarded Good Distribution Practice (GDP) certifications for its temperature controlled pharma facilities, aligned to ISO9001:2015, in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This resulted from WFS’ latest investment to update and certify its pharma handling operations at both airports.

Photo: The 4500 m3 grab hopper dredger Italeni waiting to go to work.