The AfDB has inked a R2.9bn (about US$278mn) sovereign-guaranteed loan, provided to the Namibia Ports Authority, for the construction of a container terminal at Walvis Bay New Port in Namibia.

The construction of the terminal is part of a plan to triple the container-handling capacity at the port from 350,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 1,050,000 TEUs per year. It will also finance the purchase of equipment and the training of pilots and operators for the new terminal.

Ebrima Faal, regional director of the AfDB’s Southern Africa Resource Centre (SADC), comments: “This project is important for Namibia and for the SADC region. It is critical to fulfilling Namibia’s aspirations to become a world-class logistics hub in the SADC region.”

The project is intended to increase trade in the region, with the cargo volume passing through the port rising by 70% by 2020. This will result in improving private sector development, economic development and employment, in Namibia and the SADC region, the AfDb believes.

Also, this week, the AfDB granted US$7.5mn to the Tripartite Capacity Building programme to help the organisation to address trade-related constraints – such as the removal of non-tariff barriers and other trade bottlenecks – in Eastern and Southern Africa and facilitate the negotiations for the establishment of a tripartite tree trade area.

Freddie Kwesiga, AfDB’s resident representative in Zambia, points out that the programme will accelerate the consolidation of the tripartite region into a single economic space.

Sindiso Ngwenya, secretary general of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) comments that without regional infrastructure connectivity, African integration would never be achieved. He notes that the tripartite was a significant step in the realisation of the African Union’s continental objectives, particularly the continental free trade area.

At the same time, a second grant of US$963,000 was made to Comesa to support the implementation of its Trading for Peace programme, which is trying to encourage trade in post-conflict areas in Africa such as the Great Lakes region in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The project is funded through the Africa trade fund, for which Canada provided the initial capital, and which is looking to establish trade information desks and provide trade-related training.