By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus
The Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor members have urged Namibia to consider opening a diplomatic consulate in Lubumbashi DRC to ease trade and issue visas.
Moreover, urgently decentralise the issuance and extension of commercial visas services from Windhoek to Katima Mulilo Border Post.
The Villager Business Desk reached out to the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG), which has been advocating for the abolishment of visas between the member states of the tripartite group.
Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor comprises Namibia, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In response to this paper, the WBCG’s consultant on the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi, Eric Shimumbwe, indicated that Namibia’s corridor remains the busiest.
It continues to attract and carry the largest volumes of transit cargo between the port of Walvis Bay and the hinterland countries such as Zambia, DRC, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
He added that the corridor is also perfectly positioned to service the two-way trade between the SADC region and Europe, North and South America and emerging markets in the East.
Shimumbwe told The Villager that the Tripartite meeting and the Council of Ministers urged the Member states to harmonize transit and Visa fees by the end of 2022.
Member states, specifically border agencies, were directed to promote the free movement of people in line with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He updated that the Council of Ministers, which met in March this year, urged the Member States to harmonize road transport regulations and Covid-19 protocols.
Moreover, harmonize transit fees and cross-border charges as recommended by the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology and the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme (TTTFP).
The TTTFP seeks to harmonize regional road transport policies, laws, rules, regulations, standards, and systems for efficient cross-border road transport, logistics services, systems and procedures in the tripartite region (COMESA-EAC-SADC).
Additionally, to facilitate the development of a more competitive, integrated, and liberalized regional road transport market in the East and Southern African region based on the principle of variable geometry.
Member states were urged to consider the toll charging system prevailing in Namibia, where the transporter is only charged at entry and exit from the borders of Namibia.
DRC was further urged to expedite the process of resolving the transit and toll fees issue and to provide feedback at the following technical meeting.
ONE-STOP BORDER POST (OSBP)
Due to fragmentation of administrative work on customs and other issues at the border, which makes the process more bureaucratic for traders and affects mobility- there have been suggestions to create a one-stop border post.
The WBCG consultant updated that pre-clearance and pre-registration are mandatory trade facilitation procedures at all Zambian borders, including Kazungula OSBP, Kasumbalesa and Katima Mulilo border posts.
In January 2022, the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) implemented pre-clearance as a trade facilitation tool to enhance trade efficiencies at Katima Mulilo border post, Trans – Kalahari, Arimasvlei, Oshikango, and Noordoewer border posts.
According to Shimumbwe, the move by NamRa is a progressive trade facilitation initiative that speaks to the World Trade Organization and World Customs Organization’s best practices.
Introducing pre-clearance will reduce congestion and clearance delays and enhance regional trade and logistics efficiencies, regional integration and intra-African trade.
Namibia enacted OSBP Control Act 8 of 2017; Zambia enacted OSBP Act No. 8 of 2009 and migrated to the Integrated Border Management and Trade Facilitation Act No.12 of 2018; DRC has not enacted the OSBP legislative framework.
Namibia and Zambia have accelerated OSBP bilateral discussions, and the last engagement was in May 2021 in Katima Mulilo, Namibia.
Further, the tripartite and Council of Ministers meeting urged DRC and Zambia to hold regular bilateral engagements and hold the next bilateral meeting by April 2022, which they did.
DRC and Zambia were further directed to implement the resolutions of the 2019 bilateral meeting between Zambia and DRC to clear 600 trucks per day on each side of the border to address the challenge of border congestion at the Kasumbalesa Border Post.
DRC and Zambia were also directed to Increase border operating hours from (06:00 to 18:00) to (06:00 – 20:00) owing to high traffic at Kasumbalesa Border Post
DRC was urged to provide feedback on the draft OSBP Bilateral agreement by July 2022.
SESHEKE ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE AND CASE OF ZAMBIA
Regarding the dilapidated Sesheke-Kazungula road (T10) along the Walvis Bay – Ndola – Lubumbashi Development Corridor, Zambia was requested to rehabilitate this deplorable Section.
During the tripartite meeting in Lubumbashi in March 2022 and recent engagements in Lusaka, the Zambia authority indicated that rehabilitation of the Sesheke – Kazungula road would be prioritized.
Zambia also updated that it was working on a PPP funding model.
Shimumbwe highlighted the Council of Ministers at the tripartite meeting urged Zambia to formalize ratification of the agreement by the end of 2022.
He said Zambia had made progress in ratifying the agreement.
Currently, the agreement is with the Attorney General Office’s and would provide further feedback before the end of the second quarter of 2022.
Namibia has allocated dry ports to Zambia and the DRC, together with Botswana, and Zimbabwe in Walvis Bay, yet, their full potential still needs to be realized.