Namibian Transport Industry Has Come of Age

The transportation industry in Namibia has evolved substantially during the past 20 years to the extend that transport companies are asking for an increase in shipping lines serving Namibia, says Robert Maslamoney, the Managing Director of Maersk Namibia. Maslamoney says the transportation sector is moving toward closer integration both upstream and downstream.

“I believe one of the biggest challenges we face along with other emerging markets is to start connecting the dots inland and create efficiencies and cost aantages to move business from landlocked locations into and out of the ocean gateways. When looking locally we need to ask ourselves as members of the community how ready are we as a region to facilitate more digitized, automated and standardized processes to facilitate cross-border and inter-regional trade. It is not good enough to built capabilities on the water side and not have similar matching capabilities on the land side. A key component of growing intra-African trade is to develop regional trade blocks and break down barriers to trade,” Maslamoney said in an interview with New Era last week.

He went on to say that the transportation sector should not look at shipping freight rates only, but also at inland transport costs, port costs, border formalities, as well as transit times to name a few. “Any asset heavy company with large balance sheets is aware that one can never cost-save oneself to greatness and there is only so much one can do to create efficiencies and reduce costs. At some point you cannot do it anymore and need to focus on increasing profitability, generating a healthy top line and a reasonable return on your cost capital,” he explained.

Maersk has been present in Namibia for more than 16 years, with the main base in Walvis Bay. Maslamoney believes the company has made a mark in the transportation sector and has grown since it was established in September 1997. Maersk Namibia is part of the Danish company, Maersk Group, one of the largest and most reputable companies operating in the shipping, oil and gas industries. Maersk Namibia employees 19 full-time employees with an additional 3 at Safmarine. According to Maslamoney during the past 20 years the transportation sector has seen cargo moving through Walvis Bay to other parts of west Africa (transshipment cargo) and to landlocked countries.

“As a player in the shipping industry it is in our interest to continue developing products and services that will stimulate trade.

It is not only about big business successes or country development, but also about creating opportunities and to see how we can become more than just a supplier or transporter for our clients,” he explained. According to him Namibia has become more and more fragmented with new entrants and increased rivalry among players. “Healthy competition is always good and we will always promote this since it is good for the end consumer. It is good for all players in the sector.

However, the challenges are to ensure that as an industry we act in a way that is sustainable. In addition to this I would say that breaking down barriers to trade is another key challenge the sector faces.

We need to facilitate international trade by making it easier to do business across borders and support local business owners to produce more locally and export to end products which will not only increase the value of goods exported, but also create jobs,” he said.

Source : New Era