Turning Namibia Into SADC's Logistics Hub (allAfrica.com)

Ondangwa Airport has undergone a major facelift and upgrade and now boasts a modern building and new terminal, constructed at a cost of N$84 million.

The upgrading of the Ondangwa airport into a regional airport is just one step in the quest to transform Namibia into a key logistical hub of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

“Government has a clear intention to turn Namibia into the logistics hub of SADC and thus become a symbol of efficient service delivery to our neighbours, President Hage Geingob said at the inauguration of the new terminal.

“Through improving our existing infrastructure and creating new ones, we are moving closer to realising this ambition and tapping into the huge purchasing power and business potential that exists within neighbouring countries,” he said.

Most of the former military airports in the country are about to be transformed into civilian and commercial airports. The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) has earmarked Walvis Bay and Hosea Kutako international airports for major upgrades and expansion after Ondangwa.

“This airport terminal building is the beginning of the transformation of all our airports to meet world-class standards,” NAC Chief Executive Officer Tamer El-Kallawi said.

He told President Geingob that the company has a three-year turnaround strategy to ensure that Namibia becomes a leader in regional aviation, with world-class infrastructure.

Upon completion of the ongoing rehabilitation and upgrade of the runway at Ondangwa, the airport will be able to process 75 000 passengers per annum, while the cargo capacity will expand to 2 400 tonnes by 2017.

“Everywhere I’ve travelled in Africa, countries are improving and upgrading their airports. This is because all over the continent people understand that for a country to attract tourists and retain corporations with national and global ties, efficient and functional airports are increasingly crucial.

“It is high time that Namibia follows suit by developing better airports. I hope that this development at Ondangwa Airport marks the beginning of a national drive to improve the standard of our airports,” the president said.

Geingob further noted that improving existing infrastructure and creating new ones is a sign that Namibia is drawing closer to tapping into the huge purchasing power and business potential of its neighbouring countries.

“Earlier this year, I visited both Angola and South Africa and when I spoke with my counterparts, president [José Eduardo] dos Santos and president [Jacob] Zuma, one of the key topics of discussion was the need for greater economic cooperation regarding investment and trade.

“Furthermore, we discussed how best to take advantage of our transport corridors, such as the Angola-Namibia-South Africa (ANSA) Corridor, in order to accelerate industrialisation and bring economic development to our countries.

“I hope this development at Ondangwa Airport marks the beginning of a national drive to improve the standard of our airports,” he said.

Also speaking at the inauguration, the Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus !Naruseb, said the completion of the terminal would complement national development, as well as contribute to economic growth in the country.

He added that the airport would also create business opportunities and implored local people to make use of the available services.

Minister !Naruseb also urged Namibians to guard against vandalism at the terminal, while at the same time imploring the NAC to fast-track the completion of the new runway.

The construction of the new airport terminal at Ondangwa started in 2012.