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EBH Namibia makes a meaningful contribution to the Namibian economy through project
of national importance
18 June 2013

Africa has always been seen by the rest of the world as a continent which offers significant wealth in terms of mineral resources. This has been the backbone of many African countries and in particular Namibia which has seen resurgence in the mining industry, after the discovery of oil and natural gas off the coast of Walvis Bay. Because of this, infrastructure development is pivotally important, not only to the national agenda but that of local businesses. Elgin Brown and Hamer (EBH) Namibia, a leading marine engineering and ship repair company based in Walvis Bay, is no exception.

Of note recently is the acquisition by EBH Namibia of their third Panamax floating dock; which will greatly increase the company’s dry docking capacity - by 15 000 tons - and thereby increasing its ability to service the local and international shipping industry by 60%. In addition to this is the dock’s length of 195 meters, which means that the company is able to take on larger repair and maintenance projects too.     

Given its strategic importance, this has also become a project of national interest as NAMPORT, the Namibian Ports Authority, is the majority shareholder in EBH Namibia. The balance of shares were recently acquired by the DCD Group, making EBH Namibia part of the DCD Marine cluster of companies.

The business, which in addition to general ship repair also focuses on the maintenance and repair of offshore supply vessels, currently operates two floating dry docks namely Namdock 1 and 2, in Walvis Bay. This acquisition of the third dock will further establish Namibia as one of the leading ship repair countries along the west coast of Africa.

Hannes Uys, EBH Namibia CEO says that because the company has completed two floating dock acquisitions in the past, it is prepared for the Panamax dock installation and commissioning.

“The project has two phases. The first is the positioning of the dock, which will require the moving of Namdock 1 to a new position; and the placing of moorings, dredging and positioning of Namdock 3,” Uys explains.

“The second phase is the continuation of the repairs carried out at the ASL Shipyard in Batam, Indonesia in order to reinstate class certification. If all goes according to plan, we expect the dock to be in operation by September 2013,” he adds.

Despite the great strategic and operational importance of this project, it is being undertaken at a time when there is a global shortage of skills. However, this has not deterred EBH Namibia which will be contributing towards skills development and training as well as job creation in the process.

Willie Esterhuyse, EBH Namibia Commercial Manager, reports that the project will create an estimated 150 job opportunities – the majority of which will be offered to local residents. Employees will be incorporated into the project as and when skills are required.

He adds that with a population of two million, the greatest challenge that EBH Namibia faces will be the recruitment of appropriate skills and experience at all the levels required by a project of this magnitude.

However, the skills challenge is not the only one which EBH Namibia faces. In addressing this challenge, the company will embark on an active recruitment drive, as well as implementing skills exchange programmes with international shipyards, and mentorship training.

“Our current infrastructure was developed around the operation of two floating docks, and a critical review of current versus required facilities identified various shortcomings in our available infrastructure, equipment and facilities.  We saw this as a great opportunity to upgrade our facilities and equipment; and thereby ensure the continuance of the effective and consistent service which our existing and new customers expect. To address this, we will be running relevant management development programmes as well as embarking on a capital equipment acquisition programme which will increase our capacity,” says Uys.

He adds that EBH Namibia had been fortunate to date in having a continuous order book and repeat customers. “The additional capacity provided by the third dock has given us the opportunity to expand our customer base and seek new market opportunities,” concludes Uys. 
 
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