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Logistics hub master plan evolves

Following a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Logistics Hub Master Plan which began last year, a draft SEA report was produced that suggests that the implementation of the Master Plan holds a massive boost to the economy. According to the Draft SEA report availed to the Economist by the Southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment (SAIEA), despite some significant negative environmental impacts, overall the implementation of the Master Plan holds strong positive impacts for the Namibian economy.

The assessment of impacts suggested that the ‘base case’ scenario (i.e. without implementing the Master Plan targets for accelerated logistics growth), would involve ongoing infrastructure expansion and maintenance at the current level. The base case carries less negative impacts for the biophysical environment. But in the socio-economic environment there are much greater negative impacts for the base case, and substantial benefits in GDP growth and employment creation if the Master Plan goes ahead. “For instance, the share of transport and storage to GDP will rise from 2.5% to 4.6%, contributing N$3.1 billion per annum to GDP, and adding about 50,000 employees up to 2025”. The SEA concludes that the Master Plan should be implemented overall but certain components require re-assessment and caution. In the report, the share of transport modes, between road and rail, was assessed and two scenarios were provided, the ‘existing modal share case’, and the ‘rail orientation case’. “There are many negative impacts in the first scenario, arising from the heavy road traffic loads. Negative impacts in the rail orientation case are less.
This SEA therefore supports the rail orientation case as the more preferable option,” SAIEA added. The SEA report assesses the incentives proposed in the Master Plan to make Namibia, especially Walvis Bay, ‘impressive at a glance’ for logistics investors.  ‘Pull factors’ in an Economic Processing Zone (EPZ), such as exemption of taxes, deregulation for hiring foreign experts and skilled labour, and lowering the price of land for investors in the Logistics Hub Centre, are cautiously supported.  Some negative economic consequences are identified. The SEA also found that if special economic measures are put in place, they should be assessed independently within the first three years of Hub operations. Another concern is to protect southern African resources from being illegally exported through the corridors. In their conclusion SAIEA said there are a number of impacts which need careful consideration, such as the impacts on biodiversity and tourism from the Angra Point Deep Water Port in Luderitz proposed by Namport, and the greater risks of accidents and disturbance arising from increased road traffic in all the corridors. Said SAIEA, to successfully implement the Logistics Hub Master Plan in an environmentally and socially sustainable way, a number of key stakeholders will have to assume responsibility for various actions. These roles and responsibilities are summarised in the Strategic Environmental Management Plan (SEMP).

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