Chris Giannakis, Co-founder, Meridian Group
A world-class logistics corridor, deep-sea port of Nacala, links Malawi and the Eastern Province of Zambia to the world through one of the best natural harbours on the East African coast.
Considered to be one of the most important trade corridors in Southern Africa, its development, operation and maintenance is critical to enhancing regional trade connectivity and competitiveness to the landlocked countries it serves with their predominantly agricultural and mineral-based economies.
Agriculture is the cornerstone of Malawi’s economy, supporting the livelihoods of some 70% of the population and accounting for 30% of GDP. Reaching the country’s full agricultural potential is vital for food security and to creating a sustainable exportable surplus. However, reaching full agricultural potential is not without challenges, such as lack of capital, and limited road, rail and storage infrastructure.
These challenges present opportunities for the private sector to provide solutions and contribute to the building of a well-supported, agriculture sector.
One such opportunity is the Liwonde Fertilizer Terminal, which is both a production and distribution hub. The terminal and its ancillary 1.8km purpose-built railway line which connects the terminal to Liwonde Station, is linked directly to the port of Nacala, via the upgraded Nacala Corridor railway line. The terminal infrastructure and port storage upgrades – a US$12.6 million investment – are direct contributors to a growing agriculture sector, to foreign revenue generation and to increased exposure to international markets.
With its 15 000 square metre facility, and a production capacity of approximately 360 000 metric tonnes per year, the Liwonde Fertilizer Terminal is the largest and most sophisticated terminal and fertilizer blending plant in Malawi and the region. Its advanced production technology enables the blending of soil and crop-specific blends; quality tailor-made fertilizer products that address the specific requirements of Malawian farmers.
It is a distribution hub which offers enhanced connectivity and distribution efficiency. This includes its 25-wagon, 1000 metric tonne shunting ability, a rail weighbridge able to accurately record volumes in trains moving up to 10km per hour, and nine easy-flow truck loading bays.
Export creation is a critical success factor. Value-added fertilizer products transported from the production terminal into Eastern Zambia, with trains returning from both Zambia and Malawi back to Nacala and the world carrying exports of food, and minerals.
As a solution to challenges facing land locked countries, the Nacala Corridor offers significant benefits: reduced transportation time and costs given Nacala’s proximity to Malawi; trade facilitation that supports the stimulation of local economic activities in agriculture, manufacturing and agro-industry, all activities that support foreign revenue generation; import substitution, access to international markets and an efficient supply chain that trumps reliance on aging and less reliable road infrastructure.
Linked by a 1.8 km purpose-built railway to the Liwonde Station, the terminal is directly connected to the deep-sea port of Nacala in Mozambique, one of the best natural harbours on the East African coast. Meridian’s US$2.6m rail and port expansion investments ensure for Malawi and Eastern Zambia beyond, a reliable rail link, a more efficient supply chain that drives shorter lead times and enables exposure to international markets.