Namibian Economics to the point - June 2018 - Namibia Safari and Lodges - Gondwana Collection
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Namibian Economics to the point - June 2018

Avatar of inke inke - 29. June 2018 - Economics

Brigitte Weidlich

In June, cold winter temperatures set in after a long summer spell with rain during May. The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources announced that it will receive applications for fishing licences. Only fully Namibian-owned companies may apply. The Police confiscated over 400 kilogrammes of cocaine with a worth of N$200 million (about 13.3 million Euros) from a container, which arrived from Brazil via South Africa. It is the biggest drug bust in Namibia’s history. Two universities will start specialised faculties, including marine engineering and a faculty of mining and metallurgy. Inflation for May 2018 was 3.6 percent, 0.2 percent higher than in April. According to the Namibia Statistics Agency, the economy showed 0.1 percent negative growth during the first quarter this year.

More investments

A Turkish business delegation spent three days in Namibia to explore investment opportunities in June. They also attended the first joint business council meeting in Windhoek. The delegation seeks investment in tourism, energy, mining, construction and housing. In 2016, Namibia and Turkey had signed an agreement to foster trade and economic relations. In 2017, trade volumes between Turkey and Namibia reached around N$750 million (about 50 million Euros). The Turkish ambassador in Namibia, Berin Tulun said the aim was to increase commercial relations and investments in Namibia and Africa “as well as increase the share of Turkish companies in the African geography”.

Several business people from Bremen in Germany held talks with members for the Namibia Chamber of Commerce & Industry (NCCI). The group from Bremen is interested in investing in the logistics sector and in renewable energies. Bremen and Windhoek have signed a twining agreement 18 years ago. The mayor of Bremen Carsten Sieling said both cities will investigate cooperation with regards to transport and waste management among others.

Big plans for maritime and mining centres

The University of Namibia (UNAM) will introduce maritime engineering studies in 2019. The new School of Marine Engineering and Maritime Studies will be situated at the harbour town of Walvis Bay. These study courses will reside under UNAM’s existing Faculty of Engineering. 

In addition UNAM will establish a Centre for Mining & Metallurgical Research and Training next year. The centre will be housed at Arandis in the Erongo Region. According to UNAM, the two new institutions will close the skills gap in these fields.

In the meantime the long dormant lead mine close to the Rössing Mountain in the Erongo Region has been revived. Some N$260 million (about 18 million Euros) was invested. Production will start in 2019 for 13,500 tonnes zinc and 4,000 tonnes lead per annum. The company Namib Lead & Zinc Mining is majority-owned by North River Resources (NRR), which is listed on the London Stock Exchange. NNR owns 90 percent while ten percent belongs to two Namibian social foundations. 

The British company Weatherly International, suspended the trading of its shares on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in early June. This came as a result of significant groundwater inflow into Weatherly’s Tschudi copper mine near Tsumeb, the month before. The water inflow has hindered production. As a result, the company Orion Mine Finance has notified Weatherly could not rely on Orion supporting the copper mining company further.

Steel factory for Otavi

The local company Otavi Rebar Manufacturing (ORM) is a significant step closer to establishing a factory to produce reinforcing bars (Rebar) from steel. The investment will come to some N$3.3 billion (about 220 million Euros), says Trade & Industry Minister Lucia Ipumbu. About 148,000 tonnes of rebar steel are to be produced, mainly for the construction industry. 

The government has terminated the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the initial foreign investor, MK International from South Korea and recently entered another MoU with the Swiss company Noric Steel. “The Swiss company will hold 51 percent of shares and Otavi Rebar manufacturing will have 49 percent. Construction will start later this year. 

Big shift in fishing rights allocations

Fisheries Minister Bernhard Esau, in early June announced that his Ministry is ready to receive applications for 96 fishing licences, which are due for renewal. Among them are several licences for 15 and 20 years that are also expiring. Applications must be submitted by 31 July. Companies who held fishing rights before may also apply. However, only Namibian companies may apply and they must be registered as Propriety Limited (Pty Ltd). “Individual natural persons, closed corporations, trusts and societies not for gain may apply for fishing rights as shareholders in a (Pty) Ltd,” the Minister said. Officials of the Ministry held information seminars in all 14 regions this month to provide details with regard to the application procedure. These seminars drew huge interest. 

Environment and Tourism

The national airline Air Namibia started its flights to Lagos in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana on 29 June. Air Namibia hopes to lure more passengers on these routes.

The Kalahari Anib Lodge of the local tourism company Gondwana Collection entered into TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame in June. It also received the prestigious 2018 top quality seal of Eco Awards Namibia at the gala evening of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN). Similarly, Gondwana’s Damara Mopane Lodge also received the top Eco Award called ‘Five Flowers’. The ‘HAN personality of the year’ award went to Albie van Biljon (sen.) from Alte Brücke Resort in Swakopmund. Karl-Heinz and Christelle du Toit-Oostehuizen of Taleni Tourism Holdings were crowned as HAN-Hotelier 2018. The ‘HAN tourism personality of the year award jointly went to Rudie and Marlice van Vuuren of the Na’ankuse Foundation. 

Electric fence for Etosha

The Minister of Environment and Tourism said it would cost N$491 million (about 33 million Euros) to build an 800km electric fence around the Etosha National Park. Only about 12 km could be completed due to budgetary constraints, the MET noted in a press release. 

The MET further announced that it will soon ban non-recyclable plastic bags in Namibia’s national parks. The date will be shared with the public in due course.

MET Minister Pohamba Shifeta has for a second time withdrawn the environmental clearance certificate of the Ministry’s Environmental Commissioner for offshore phosphate mining. He did so the first time in November 2016, calling for more consultations. The aggrieved company, Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP) went to court, claiming it did not have a chance to state its views. Last month (May 2018), the Windhoek High Court revoked the Minister’s decision and ordered a new hearing. This took place on 18 June attended by the public where the lawyers of NMP presented their case. Michael Gaweseb of the Namibia Consumer Trust who in 2016 opposed the environmental clearance certificate was represented by his lawyer. On 21 June Minister Shifeta again revoked the certificate and ordered broader consultations on the matter for the next six months. By 21 December 2018, he expects a report from the Environmental Commissioner.

Beware of yellow speed cameras

The traffic police have started testing twelve yellow high-tech speed cameras on Namibia’s B1 and B2 roads. They have been erected a while ago, but had to be approved by the Namibia Standards Institute (NSI) first. Approval has now been granted and the test phase has started, the traffic police noted. Anyone seeing the tall twin poles painted in bright yellow along the main trunk roads is advised to stick to the speed limit of 120 km per hour or face a fine.

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