Namibian Economics to the point - February 2019 - Namibia Safari and Lodges - Gondwana Collection

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Namibian Economics to the point - February 2019

Avatar of inke inke - 01. March 2019 - Economics


Brigitte Weidlich

February brought only sporadic rainfalls for most of the country, but in southern Namibia heavy rains were reported near Aranos, Keetmanshoop and the Ai-Ais Lodge in the Fish River among others, causing flash floods. 

President Hage Geingob appointed a 15-member commission of inquiry to look into ancestral land claims of inhabitants, who lost land during German colonial and South Africa’s apartheid rule. The German construction company PolyCare opened its brick-making factory outside Windhoek with the Minister of Economics and Science of Thuringia as guest of honour.

(From left:) Bank of Namibia Governor Ipumbu Shiimi, Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann, President Hage Geingob and Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein chatted to journalists at State House. Photo by The Patriot newspaper

Another prominent visitor was Jens Weidmann, president of the Bundesbank, Germany’s federal bank. Namibia’s central bank kept the repo rate once again at 6.75 percent. Fuel prices also remained unchanged during February. Inflation dropped to 4.7 percent in January, down from 5.1 percent in December, the national statistics agency announced on 13 February. 

The profit-making public enterprise Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) has announced plans to list on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) within 24 months. The Fitch rating agency has this month revised the outlook for Namibia's long-term foreign-currency default rating from stable to negative. It also affirmed Namibia’s investment rating at 'BB+'. 

Germany’s PolyCare brick factory opens

Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba (2nd from left) inaugurated the PolyCare factory, while Thuringia’s Economics Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee (2nd from right) and PolyCare CEO Gerd Dust (right) are looking on. Trade and Industrialisation Minister Tjekero Tweya (left) was also present. Photo by PolyCare

After two years of planning, the construction of a factory building and training of some 25 newly hired workers, the day of the inauguration on 4 February was marked as a milestone by PolyCare Research Technology. 

Special guests of honour were Namibia’s Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba and Thuringia’s Minister of Economics and Science Wolfgang Tiefensee. PolyCare’s head office is in Gehlberg, Thuringia. The investment of N$38 million (about 2.45 million Euros) is the result of a partnership between PolyCare and the Namibian companies Guinas Investments, KL Construction and Namib Beton. “We produce block bricks consisting mostly of sand and a special resin, which allows the bricks to dry in twenty minutes. No cement is needed to build houses, we apply our innovative Lego method”, said PolyCare’s chief executive officer, Gerhard Dust. Minister Tiefensee emphasised that economic partnerships with African countries were the best way for development and skills transfer. The company intends to build houses for low to middle income earners in Namibia.

The PolyCare factory outside Windhoek. Photo by PolyCare

Jens Weidmann of Bundesbank in Windhoek

Deutsche Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann visited Namibia briefly this month to discuss the existing cooperation with Namibia’s central bank. Weidmann was in South Africa the day before. Weidmann and his counterpart, Ipumbu Shiimi of the Bank of Namibia briefed President Hage Geingob about cooperation against cybercrime, “We are cooperating in numerous areas, including IT and cyber security. Cyber crime is something that concerns us both; how to create systems that are secure and can fend off attacks,” Weidmann told reporters. Shiimi noted that the cooperation with the Bundesbank started five years ago. “We work together in various central banking areas such as payment systems, currency printing, and currency management. We also receive training, as they have better capacity than in Namibia, we can learn a lot from our German counterparts,” Shiimi said.

Namibia’s Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein was also present. “We also discussed economic issues, how we can better cooperate with Germany, address our structural reforms in the economy, and improve investment streams from the European Union, especially from Germany,” Schlettwein emphasised.

Commission to investigate ancestral land claims 

On 21 February 2019 President Hage Geingob has appointed a Commission of Inquiry to look into the claims for ancestral land and its restitution. This move is a direct result of the resolutions taken at the the second national land conference held in October 2018. High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele chairs the 15-member commission. Prominent commercial farmers Ryno van der Merwe and Helmke Sartorius von Bach are also members. The commission has nine months to research and hold wide-ranging consultations to prepare a preliminary report within nine months. The final report on its findings and recommendations must be delivered three months after that.

At the swearing-in ceremony of the 15 members, President Geingob stated that recommendations must also be made for other means of compensation, where ancestral land cannot be returned. The commission is further tasked with the investigation of possible unintended consequences of ancestral land claims and restitution, appropriate mitigation measures as well as the determination of how claims on ancestral land should be premised on the human rights principles and standards guaranteed in the Namibian Constitution. It must also look at international and regional human rights instruments that are binding on Namibia. “You are expected to fulfill your responsibilities in an accountable and transparent manner. I am confident that given your credentials, expertise and wealth of knowledge, you will carry out your responsibilities with distinction,” Geingob said.

Diamond production increased in 2018

The international diamond mining giant De Beers announced that its operations in Namibia showed good results for 2018. Its subsidiary Namdeb Holdings, which is owned in equal shares with the Namibian government, increased production by 11 percent to 2.0 million carats. In 2017, only 1.8 million carats were produced. Production from the marine operations along the southern parts of the Namibian coast, increased by 4 percent. Production on land went up by 34 percent to 0.6 million carats compared to 0.4 million carats in 2017. “The increased production on land in Namibia is a result of access to consistently higher diamond grades,” De Beers stated.

Millions for climate change adaptation 

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has allocated N$149 million to Namibia for the country’s climate adaptation efforts in rural areas. The funds will be used over the next few years to promote the sustainable management of natural resources and the enhancement of livelihoods through eradicating poverty in rural areas.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has made the funds available via the GEF for the Namibia Integrated Landscape Approach for Enhancing Livelihoods and Environmental Governance to Eradicate Poverty (NILALEG) project. Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) implements the project, which will kick off in July in the Ohangwena, Kunene, Kavango- East, Kavango-West and Zambezi regions.

The Ministry’s executive director, Teofilus Nghitila said at the signing ceremony, the project would enhance biodiversity, climate change mitigation and measures to increase productivity of land and restoration of forests.

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