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Japan to finance Walvis Bay Port expansion

Japan will help finance the Walvis Bay Port expansion, the country’s new Ambassador to Namibia told the Economist on Wendesday.
The Walvis Bay port expansion project, initially scheduled to start in 2011, has been stalled because of “ongoing consultations.” The incoming Japanese Ambassador to Namibia, Yutaka Yoshizaw told the Economist that Japan, through its International Coperation Agency (JICA), will fund the expansion of the port. He however, said it was too early to tell how much JICA will invest in the Walvis Bay port extension project as a number of finer details still needed to be finalised.
JICA was also responsible for carrying out the feasibility study of the port’s expansion in 2010.
Yoshizawa, who visits the coastal town this Friday together with a ten-member business delegation from his country, said once the expansion of the Walvis Bay port is completed, it will be “a very good gateway” for Japanese businesses coming into the sub Saharan region.
He said: “I am visiting Walvis Bay on Friday together with the business delegation. In fact JICA, the Japanese government’s arm of development assistance…. is interested in financing the expansion of the Walvis Bay port project. Once it is completed it will be a very good gateway for Japanese businesses coming into the sub Saharan region.” The Ambassador said while South Africa – where the majority of Japanese businesses are based- boasted of a number of good port facilities, quite often their facilities are fully engaged so additional port capacity in southern Africa will be very useful for Japanese companies doing business in the region.  The expansion of the Port of Walvis Bay is expected to play a key role as a container transshipment hub on the southwest coast of Africa as well as a gateway to land-locked countries. It’s envisaged that the project would be financed from Namport’s own balance sheet and via funding sourced from international and local financial institutions and development funding.  The expansion project consists of new container berths that will be built opposite the existing berths 1 to 8 of the commercial port. It will be on reclaimed land, connected to land by an access causeway at the southern end, near the Walvis Bay Yacht club area.
Most of the reclaimed area is in relatively shallow water depths of between 1.5 metres and 5 metres below the sea. Material for reclamation will be sourced from dredging operations within the port area. This will result in the deepening of basins, berthing pockets as well as the deepening, widening and extension of the entrance channel from its current 6km length to about 8.2km. It was not immediately clear when construction of the project, mooted five years ago, would eventually start.

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