Namibia and Botswana continue to enjoy good trade relations under the configuration framework of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), being the oldest functional customs union in the world, having been established in 1910.
It comprises a membership of five countries, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and eSwatini.
In recent years, Namibia’s merchandise trade with Botswana has increased, with the overall exports to Botswana amounting to N$8.6 billion in 2021 as compared to the export value of N$7.5 billion recorded in 2020.
On the other hand, the value of imports from Botswana stood at N$752 million after recording N$978 million in the previous year. The effect of Covid-19 was observed in 2020’s merchandise trade between the two parties, with 2021 showing some recovery from the pandemic.
Though a remarkable trade relation has been observed in recent years, there is a need to maximise the utilisation of trade capacity to boost trade between the two parties.
An analysis of the compositional changes in Namibia’s export basket to Botswana indicates that diamonds accounted for 78.2%, mineral fuels and oils (mainly light oils and preparations) with a share of 15.5%, and Portland cement accounted for 1.2% of Namibia’s total exports to Botswana.
The composition of Namibia’s imports from Botswana suggests that vaccines for veterinary medicine accounted for an average share of 42.3%; co-axial cable 16.3%; coal accounted for 5.2%, with live cattle accounting for a share of 4.6% of the total imports from Botswana in 2021.
It is, therefore, imperative for the private sectors of Namibia and Botswana to take opportunities under SACU to expand and trade in various products, including manufactured goods and services.
The dry port will not only serve a wide customer base but also, most importantly, complement the Namibian government’s effort in becoming a logistics hub for
The dry port provides the ability to ease congestion while at the same time complementing Botswana’s trading ability.
A number of Namibian companies similarly stand to benefit from the operations of the dry port.
Local companies that benefit are those in the transportation and logistics (over 90% of Namibian companies), storage and warehousing sectors as well as the oil service industries.
The dry port also uses the service of Namibian clearing agencies, as well as the marketing and branding of cargos.
The facility further strengthens economic ties between the two countries and fosters inter-regional trade and subsequently leads to harmonised trading and economic growth within the Southern African community.
Furthermore, Namibia benefits in terms of the port handling fees that the shipping lines will pay when docking at the port to deliver or offload consignments in transit to Botswana.
In so doing, it will enhance Namibia’s visibility as a strategic logistic hub in the region.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement, to which Namibia and Botswana belong, calls for seamless cross-border trade and as a land-locked country – the dry port at Walvis Bay enables Botswana to have direct market access to the world.
As part of the Trade Facilitation Agenda, Namibia will position herself as a strategic logistic hub and as a country that has developed various corridors to succour land-locked sister countries.
Hence, the port is envisaged to facilitate cross-border trade between Namibia and Botswana through the Trans-Kalahari Corridor.
Of course, this will also connect highways of Namibia, commencing at the Port of Walvis Bay through Kanye and Lobatse in Botswana to South Africa, mainly to the industrial heartland of the greater Gauteng.
All the commodities that are not restricted by the port are and will be handled at the facility.
The port of Walvis Bay strategically gives a competitive positioning to Namibia as a transport hub for all regional and international trade between SADC countries, Europe, the Americas and beyond.
Already, two SADC countries, namely Botswana and Zambia, have acquired land for dry ports at Walvis Bay.
Conclusively, the two neighbouring countries (Namibia and Botswana) should be encouraged to forge a cordial and good relationship to enhance trade-related activities between them.
*Elijah Mukubonda is the chief information officer at the Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation