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Saturday, 6 December 2008

The quest for port capacity...

Namibia's Walvis Bay Corridor Group plans to invest $100 million over three to five years to expand Walvis Bay port to handle growing cargo from copper mines in Zambia and the Congo. The investment will increase the number of ships docking at Walvis Bay to more than 4,000 a month from the current figure of between 2,000 and 3,000 ships. This investment coupled this the plannedinvestment in Angolan ports and Mozambique's planned upgrade of the Nacala and Beira ports bodes well for Zambia in the future.

The chart below (click for clarity) from this paper, underscores Zambia's current reliance on Dar es Salaam and the Guateng /Durban corridors. While both of these have their own advantages, the shorter transit times that Beira, Nacala and Walvis offer presents good opportunities in the future. The Beira / Nacala investments would really present an alternative transport hub, to rival Durban / Guateng from a Zambian perspective.


  1. Cho,

    Given the chart reports that the trade thus far through Namibia is "nominal" and accounts for less than 0.1% of total trade, anything they do is bound to be an improvement! From what I can make out, the facility at Walvis Bay is indeed limited in size, but highly viable if made accessible by rail. Here are some available images courtesy of Panoramio:

    A foggy view, looking northward from the south end of the facility I believe, and, wider angle, same view.

    Here's a sea level view of the primary loading facility.

    The famous QE2 in port, to illustrate scale.

    An inland view of port container storage facilities undergoing upgrade.

    A floating dry-dock facility, adjacent to a refueling pier with associated storage tanks and what appears to be a seafood cannery.

    Aerial view, north end of port looking inland.

    Aerial view from south end of port looking north.

  2. Yakima,

    Very good images!

    Economies of scale, mean that the facility has to increase its capacity significantly in size to shift demand away from Gauteng / Durban.

    Ports are just like airport hubs....

  3. Business Day of South Africa is reporting that PetroSA intends to move ahead with plans to develop a US$11B crude oil refinery with a 400,000 barrel/day capacity at the new Nqura deepwater port facility in the Coega development zone.

    The facility will be located just a few kilometers from the traditional container port facility in Port Elizabeth, which may see more regional freight to and from Gauteng moving along this corridor. An image or two of the scale of the container port facility.

    I agree with you about Mozambique, the Nacala facility appears highly limited at present, and may prove somewhat difficult to expand due ironically to the extreme depth of the natural harbour itself and steep descent to the existing facility. It will be interesting to see how the engineering proceeds. If the Central East African Railways part of the corridor project succeeds, then investments to expand Nacala should be well worth it. Likewise the port of Beira, aerial view here, appears very well suited to expansion if rail networks can handle the load.

  4. A huge refinery. Maybe they will produce cheap jet fuel which Zambia can buy.

  5. Kafue001 South Africa already produces cheap fuel which is sold in Malawi, Namibia and Botswana at half the prices prevailing in Zambia. The difference between South Africa and Zambia is that in the former crude oil is brought in duty free whereas in Zambia there is a 35% excise duty charge on imported crude oil. Add to this the upto 60% excise taxes once the crude is refined. The problem is that Zambian govts have always treated oil as revenue generator. It has nothing to do with the size of the refinery.

  6. This article says the COEGA refinery will have economies of scale unlike the smaller refineries common in Africa:

  7. Also article says that there may be a new pipeline built from COEGA refinery into subSaharan Africa. It could help reduce Zambia's reliance on TanZam pipeline.

  8. Cho,

    Indeed the economies of scale available to shippers using Durban are impressive. It is hard to find a high res picture that can encompass the whole of the facility, but here's some of the best I could find:

    For overhead view of the port and surrounding rail yards (must be a large percentage of all the rolling stock in the region at any given time), I recommend the Durban google map.

    As usual, panoramio has a wealth of vistas on tap, like these three aerial views, from the North, from the West, and from the Southeast.

    The Northwestern side of the harbour, seen here, showing auto storage, a small rail yard, and a thirteen-crane pier for loading and unloading non-container cargoes.

    The container facility in the Southwestern part of the port is far larger than the other ones we've talked about combined. Here's an inshore view, an offshore view, and across the water from from the South side.

    On the south side near the mouth is what appears to be the bulk ore facility.

    The harbour mouth and narrow channel to the Southeast keep the port very protected from weather, but certainly seems sufficient to admit even the largest ships.

  9. Kafue,

    I think you are correct, that much additional supply could make a significant difference in the price of petroleum for Zambia going forward, especially if it can be efficiently transported via pipelines.


    I think you are correct, the high price of fuel in Zambia is as much to do with tax policy as with distance from sources of less expensive supply.

  10. Frank,

    I don't recognize those figures. Oil import was 5% and has only now just been increased to 25% to prevent imports. See the blog 'politics of Zambian oil'.

  11. More trouble for the rail link via Malawi and Mozambique apparently:

    Mozambique: Derailment in Nacala Corridor

    15 January 2009

    Maputo — Traffic along the rail line from the northern Mozambican port of Nacala to landlocked Malawi has been interrupted since Monday afternoon, due to a derailment at Nacavala, 50 kilometres from Nampula city.

    The derailment was provoked by heavy rains in the region, which washed away ballast leaving part of the track dangling in mid-air. Two locomotives and nine wagons carrying merchandise from Malawi to Nacala were derailed. The derailment has halted Malawian exports via Nacala and has serious financial implications for the private-led consortium, CDN (Northern Development Corridor) that manages the line.

    CDN executive rail manager Manuel Macopa told "Noticias" that at the time of the accident it was raining torrentially in Nacavala, thus reducing the visibility of the train crew, who were unable to see that the line was damaged.

    CDN has set up brigades that are supposed to patrol the 600 kilometres of line between Nacala and Cuamba, checking for damage caused by rain of by sabotage (by individuals who remove parts of the track to sell as scrap metal). But this work has not proved able to avoid derailments.

    A commission of inquiry has been set up to establish the exact causes of Monday's derailment. Work is under way to repair the line, and Macopa was confident that traffic will be resumed by the end of the week.

    Copyright © 2009 Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique. All rights reserved.


  13. Tanzanian oil refinery:


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