The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved US $153m loan to the government of Namibia to upgrade a 210km stretch of railway in the west of the country. The bank will also finance the upgrade of a section of the road from the capital, Windhoek, to its international airport.
The two interventions are part of the priority projects identified in the government’s Harambee Prosperity Plan. The action plan was launched in April 2016, to support priority interventions identified in the government’s national development plan.
The upgrading of the railway track between Walvis Bay and Kranzberg is also expected to speed up both freight and passenger traffic. Moreover, the upgrading is particularly important because it will involve a direct linkage to Walvis Bay Port, and therefore will speed the passage of goods to and from the port into Namibia and beyond into other Southern African Development Community countries.
After improvement, freight trains are seen to be able to travel at up to 80km per hour and passengers will enjoy speeds of up to 100km per hour. The rail upgrading work is scheduled to be implemented in three years.
As for the road to the airport, it will be a new dual carriageway with two lanes in each direction and will incorporate an option for a third lane in the future. The existing road will be retained as an alternative to service local traffic, said the bank.
The government of Namibia recognizes that the combination of having direct access to the South Atlantic and a good transport network can improve its competitiveness and desire to become an international logistics hub. It shares borders with Angola, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, and the latter two countries are landlocked.
While presenting the project to the board, Josephine Ngure, deputy director-general for southern Africa regional development and business delivery office at the AfDB, said the project is aligned with the government’s priorities, and complements the other three projects approved by the Bank for Namibia this year. “It is in line with two of the AfDB’s High 5 strategic priorities, ‘Integrate Africa’ and ‘Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa’ through the creation of construction jobs during the works and other employment after completion,” she added.