Nam, Zambia plan oil, gas pipeline

Agreement signed
Various issues were discussed at the tenth session of the Namibia-Zambia joint permanent commission.
Leandrea Mouers
Zambia and Namibia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in facilitating private sector development and the implementation of the Namibia-Zambian Oil Products and Natural Gas Pipeline Project (NAZOP) which will connect the port of Walvis Bay to Zambia..

The signing took place at the tenth session of the Namibia-Zambia Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation that was hosted in Swakopmund from 5 to 6 October.

Speaking on the occasion, Peter Chibwe Kapala, the Zambian minister of energy said that the priority focus of the agreement is on enhancing economic cooperation between the two countries in the petroleum sub-sector. “The NAZOP pipeline system will upon its coplettion supply an estimated 100 000 to 120 000 barrels of refined petroleum products per day between Namibia and Zambia. The pipeline system could also supply other countries in the SADC region.”

The Namibian minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo said that the envisioned project calls for collaboration and not competition amongst the SADC member countries. "One of the biggest challenges on the African continent is access to energy. Statistics tell us that more than 600 million Africans do not have access to energy. We have come to realise that for decades from now, gas is going to be the biggest source of energy on the continent, but for that to happen the necessary distribution infrastructure needs to be in place for people to have access. With this project, we make sure to address that energy poverty.”

Implementation

Alweendo explained that the NAZOP project is driven by the private sector with support from the government. Both countries called on the private sector to capitalize on the immense opportunity and potential that the MoU would generate.

“It is one thing to sign a MoU and another thing to ensure that it is implemented. The MoU makes provision for a joint technical committee representing both countries and it will be working with the private sector to clearly identify the areas where action needs to be taken," said the minister. He urged those who will be serving on this committee, to work diligently and to quickly identify the areas that need assistance, by who and by when.

Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, the Deputy Prime minister and minister of International Relations and Cooperation who hosted the commission, concurred with Alweendo. "The success of the two country’s cooperation should not be judged on the number of agreements signed, but on the implementation and impact on the livelihoods of the people. I urge our senior officials, in conjunction with the private sector, to ensure implementation of this important agreement without delay. We must know that policies and programmes are what they are when implemented, but if no action is taken it is just as good as no policy or programme.”

Issues

The Joint Permanent Commission also reviewed a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. The commission lauded the progress made in the implementation of the bilateral cooperation programmes between the two countries in various sectors such as agriculture, mines and energy, education and training, health, local government, trade and investment, environment and tourism, transport and communication, sport and culture, diplomatic cooperation and the legal sector, that emanated from the nine sessions of the joint commission.

The two ministers also visited the Zambian Dry Port at the port of Walvis Bay. “We noted with satisfaction that the dry Port of and the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor continue to be key enablers in the facilitation and enhancement of cross-border trade and commerce along the corridor and beyond”, the two countries stated in a joint communiqué.

Infrastructure

While underscoring the importance of the Katima Mulilo-Sesheke Bridge in the logistics and transport value chain, the Joint Permanent Commission noted the progress made on the establishment of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Katima Mulilo/Wenela Border Post and urged the two sides to develop an Implementation Plan for its actualization and eventual 24-hour operation. "We also welcome the completion of the feasibility study for the construction of a railway line from Grootfontein to Katima Mulilo in Namibia, which would enable the two countries to create a railway link. In this regard, the Commission welcomed Namibia’s commitment to fast-track the operationalisation of the railway line.”

The Joint Permanent Commission also agreed that while recognizing the importance of requisite infrastructure in facilitating trade, the need to urgently resolve technical barriers to trade in order to unlock and maximize the trade potential between the two countries should be emphasised.

The next joint commission is expected to be hosted by Zamibia in 2024.

Responsibility

In her closing remarks, on Thursday, Nandi-Ndaitwah said that both countries have reached the point of no return in their resolve to reinvigorate cooperation. “There should be no doubt that we go from here, determined to make a difference to the bilateral relations between our two countries and peoples. A relationship that should go a long way in improving the living standards of our people, especially those less fortunate.”

She added that it is time to fulfil the expectations of the people. “It is time to turn our cooperation into a potent instrument of development and progress in our countries. It is therefore crucial that all sectoral ministries in our respective countries should take it upon themselves to re-dedicate ourselves to ensure that joint decisions taken here are implemented timeously. It is our responsibility to successfully continue consolidating the cooperation for the betterment of our people.”