Changing the way ­business is done

Namibia and its landlocked neighbours will greatly ­benefit from the newly ­inaugurated container ­terminal in the long run.

08 October 2019 | Infrastructure

The recently inaugurated container terminal at the Port of Walvis Bay can change the way Namibia conducts business, says communications strategist Usi //Hoebeb.

“Increasing the throughput capacity of the port in terms of its container traffic can open up a world of opportunities for Namport in facilitating increased trade between its southern African neighbours and their markets in the West, the Americas as well as the East. This translates into increased traffic and positioning not only the port of Walvis Bay, but Namibia as the ideal trade facilitator in the region.”

//Hoebeb said the newly inaugurated facility is already supported by the existence of the Trans-Kalahari and Trans-Caprivi Corridors, which open up both the central and south-eastern African trade routes.

“Our position will ultimately have untold financial and economic benefits for the country across a variety of sectors, notably in transport and logistics but also other peripheral benefits in other sectors.”

Usi //Hoebeb Communications, whose contract came to an end this month and which is owned by Hoebeb, served as public relations (PR) agency for China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for the past four and a half years.

CHEC was contracted by NamPort to construct the container terminal on reclaimed land in Walvis Bay as part of its port expansion project. The container terminal was completed earlier this year and officially handed over to Namport at a ceremony on 1 August 2019.

Experience gained

For //Hoebeb the experience of working for an international company has been one of providing a service hitherto­ unknown to CHEC.

“We were reliably informed at the end-of-contract meeting that it is the first time that the company of which CHEC is a subsidiary, used a local PR agency to build relationships (bridge-building) with local communities, media and other stakeholders, and that this has now become a principle which may be rolled out to operations around the world. We are proud to be acknowledged by an international client as leading the way in changing mind-sets,” //Hoebeb said.

Upon being contracted as the PR agency, UHC developed a comprehensive communications strategy which took into account the socio-political and economic environment of Nami­bia. Ample consideration was given on how CHEC's corporate values­ could be integrated into ensuring greater understanding of not only its operations in Namibia but also the value of its role to Namibia's socio-economic development.

//Hoebeb says this was not an easy task.

“In the beginning we had to deal with preconceived and often prejudiced views on the role of Chinese business in Namibia. To some extent, these were understandable as many did not understand the importance of the project and the role of CHEC in assisting Namibia in achieving certain milestones in its socio-economic endeavours and drive.”

According to //Hoebeb, the challenges were bridged with the help of some open-minded, progressive thinking leaders who understood the importance of the project to the country and CHEC's role in the process.

He also commended the Chinese for their work ethic. “They operate with a focused mind-set which determines that you concentrate on a particular objective and ensure that you meet that before moving onto the next. In essence this means doing what you do to the best of your abilities, with focused energies and single-minded determination. In addition, we learnt that being certified does not necessarily make you an expert. Ensuring that the job is done expertly, makes you an expert.”

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