Nam to raise N$19bln on international market

NAMIBIA will start tapping markets and investors to finance a five-year, 23-billion-Namibian-dollar ($19bn) development plan as early as next year as the country seeks to become a regional transport hub.

The southwest African nation’s government has said it will finance 73-billion Namibian dollars of the budget and use a variety of methods to raise the rest of the money for ports, railways, roads and airport upgrades.

"The best way to address these funding needs is to pursue various alternatives including public-private partnerships and listed infrastructure funds, among others," Emma Haiyambo, a spokeswoman for the Bank of Namibia in Windhoek, the capital, said in e-mailed responses to questions on December 16.

Namibia intends to position itself as a channel for trade by landlocked neighbours including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi. Namibia is expanding capacity and building bulk cargo handling capabilities at its deep water port at Walvis Bay and upgrading the harbour at Luderitz. It will also target customers from southern Angola.

The state-owned Namibia Ports Authority plans to build a harbour to be known as the SADC Gateway Port, about 5km north of the existing Walvis Bay port. The project will have a dry bulk terminal and a five-berth coal facility, primarily to cater for 65-million metric tons of projected shipments from Botswana’s Mmamabula coalfields to Asian markets.

Growing economy

The government will come up with a way to "encourage the participation of private financiers and investors, both locally and internationally," to participate in the development fund raising, Ms Haiyambo said.

"Our expectation is that there will be appetite from domestic investors to invest," she said. "Local and international investors have confidence in the Namibian economy, its regulatory landscape and the general macroeconomic outlook."

Namibia’s economy will grow by 5.6% in 2015, up from 5.3% this year, buoyed by construction, retail trade, diamond mining and manufacturing, the central bank said on December 12. The country is the world’s fifth largest producer of uranium and the biggest source of offshore diamonds, most of which are mined by Namdeb Diamond Corp, a joint venture between the government and Anglo American Plc’s De Beers unit.

Namibia has started a 45-billion-Namibian-dollar mass housing programme to provide homes to low-income earners and increase energy generation. Work on some of the transport projects is expected to start next year, Ms Haiyambo said.

The government is working "to establish a policy framework that will encourage and enable the private sector to participate in funding Namibia’s infrastructure gap," she said. "With sound policies, extensive consultation and innovation, we are confident that the private sector can participate in funding the infrastructure needs."