Namport eyes closer cooperation with the strategic Port of Dunkirk in France, which sits at the heart of the Brussels-London-Paris triangle.
Last week representatives of the French Development Agency (AFD), Namport and the Port of Dunkirk met in Windhoek to enter a Memorandum of Agreement, against the backdrop of a high level visit by a French business delegation to Namibia.
The French business delegation expressed interest in supporting Namibia’s development ambitions, especially in the transport sector. The tripartite agreement is aimed at improving the performance of the Port of Walvis Bay, as well as strengthening the position of the Port of Dunkirk, insofar as maritime flows involving southern Africa and Europe are concerned.
The Port of Dunkirk is a major trading port for the Hauts-de-France region, which is the leading region for agri-food and agricultural produce, as well as the rail and automotive industries in France.
As part of the third “Choose France!" summit meeting which began on 20 January in Versailles, Secretary of State Agnès Pannier-Runacher disclosed the names of twelve ‘turnkey’ industrial sites, which include the Heavy Industry Zone (ZGI) development platform of the Port of Dunkirk. It is also the first French port to provide users of its container terminals with shore-side electricity supply.
The technical cooperation project sponsored to the tune of N$10.6m by the AFD, a public financial institution that implements policy defined by the French government, will support what has been described as a win-win partnership between the two ports.
The money will go towards measures to improve the performance of Namport through peer-to-peer exchanges and consulting services offered by the Port of Dunkirk, including the provision of expertise for the implementation of a ‘green port strategy’.
“The maritime sector strongly contributes to our economy, and we therefore pay special attention to the development of our relationships with strategic foreign partners.
“This has been a topic of common interest between the French and Namibian governments, and I am very pleased to see that the collaboration between our two ports is entering into a concrete phase of implementation,” said Stéphane Raison, executive chairman of the board of the Port of Dunkirk.
Present at the signing, as a member of the French delegation was Valérie Létard, vice-president of the French Senate and senator of the Hauts-de-France region.
“Our region is one of the main economic areas in Europe, with a direct access to five capitals (Paris, Brusells, London, Amsterdam and Luxembourg) and three seafront ports (Dunkirk, Boulogne sur mer and Calais) forming the first port system in France.
“Like in Namibia, we benefit from a dynamic fishing industry, and we are very keen on strengthening the synergies between the stakeholders of this sector and our ports,” the French senator said.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of Namport, Kavin Harry welcomed the proposed technical cooperation project. He said the recent extension of the container terminal at Namport was a strategic move, which will be complemented by French maritime expertise to improve port operations across the board.
“Our mission is clear, that as Namport we strive to provide world-class port experience to all users of our ports, as well as to meaningfully contribute towards Namibia’s transformational agenda that of becoming a Logistics Hub for the Southern African Developmental Community (SADC),” Harry, said.
“As a sheltered deep-water port, the Port of Walvis Bay plays a strategic role in Namibia’s development.”
In addition to the grant, the AFD will be in discussions with Namport to support the company’s potential investment needs, through soft loan financing. The AFD opened an office in Windhoek last year.
Located on the North Sea, just one and a half hours’ sailing time from the world’s busiest seaway (600 ships every day), the Port of Dunkirk offers excellent accessibility to shipping and boasts large land reserves. Its facilities mean it can handle all kinds of cargoes, including some of the largest sea-going vessels in the world.
The port’s territory covers 7 000 hectares, roughly 5.5 times the size of the land belonging to Namport, and includes ten towns: Dunkirk, Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, Fort-Mardyck, Grande-Synthe, Mardyck, Loon-Plage, Gravelines, Craywick, Saint-Georges-sur-l’Aa and Bourbourg.
Moreover, the Port of Dunkirk is situated
40 km from the English port of Dover, 10 km from the Belgian frontier, close to the city of Lille and at the heart of the Brussels-London-Paris triangle. Dunkirk is considered the ideal platform for goods consolidation and redistribution in Europe.
Caption: Port of Dunkirk increases overall throughput at the end of 2019 despite pre-Brexit uncertainties. Photo: Port of Dunkirk