DP World plans to develop an economic freezone in Namibia to grow the country's role as a southern African hub, marking the Dubai-listed port operator's latest foray into the continent.
DP World and Namibia's Nara Namib Free Economic Industrial Zone signed an initial agreement for an industry and logistics freezone in the Atlantic coast port town of Walvis Bay, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. They expect to reach a definitive agreement on the project in the second quarter of 2020.
"We believe the country has great potential to expand its role as a hub for the region," Suhail Al Banna, CEO and managing director for DP World's Middle East and Africa operations, said: The Namibian government’s recent legislation on free zones and efforts to facilitate greater business provides an attractive environment for investment."
In Africa, DP World has operations in Senegal, Egypt, Mozambique, Algeria, Rwanda and Somaliland, according to its website. The ports operator has shown increasing interest in the continent, despite an ongoing legal dispute over its operations in Djibouti. Last year, it signed an agreement with Mali to develop a logistics platform and with the Democratic Republic of Congo for the country's first deep-sea port. Last month, DP World's chief executive Mohammed Al Muallem told The National the company continues to see further potential for growth in Africa.
The first phase of the Walvis Bay project will span a gross developed area of 50 hectares, expandable to up to 1,500 hectares.
The economic freezone will provide businesses with development-ready land for industrial and logistics operations, pre-built warehouses and office accommodation, DP World said.
The first phase of the zone has the potential to create 3,000 jobs and help Namibia attract investment of about $237 million (Dh870m), according to the statement. The expanded zone is expected to increase the potential investment to about $1.7 billion with up to 20,000 job opportunities.
Developing Walvis Bay as a hub in southern Africa will boost Namibia's trade flows with surrounding markets such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi and South Africa, DP World said, noting that Namibia is in a "prime location" on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Corridor.
Under the terms of its agreement, DP World plans to bring to the project its expertise in establishing and operating global ports, logistics parks and free zones integrated with railways and trucking.
"Today’s [agreement] brings us a step closer to fulfilling Namibia’s vast trade and economic development prospects, and we look forward to benefiting from DP World’s global expertise and network in the areas of parks, economic zones, ports and logistics while creating synergies with our strong local footprint and industry reach," Andre Olivier of Nara Namib said.