Namibian Economics to the Point – November 2017 - News - Gondwana Collection


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Namibian Economics to the Point – November 2017

Avatar of inke inke - 01. décembre 2017 - Economics

It was a month of mixed fortunes for Namibia’s economy, with improved rankings in two international ratings but a downgrade by Fitch. Parliament approved an additional budget of N$4.1 billion (about 61.5 million Euros). Inflation for October dropped to 5.2 percent compared to 5.6 percent in September. Only a few rainfalls were recorded in November, after good rains a month earlier. Total vehicle sales came to 1,100 units in October, 63 units fewer than in September. 

Rankings and ratings

Namibia’s ICT-Competitiveness improved to rank eight in Africa, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) announced. Namibia gained two notches in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report from rank 108 to 106. Similarly, Namibia moved up from rank ten to rank five in the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance. Namibia showed improvement in governance, despite some poor scores in social welfare, accountability, infrastructure and good business environment. 

However, the rating agency Fitch also downgraded Namibia’s creditworthiness to junk status (BB-), after Moody’s did so on 11 August. 

Tourism industry upbeat

Namibia’s’ tourism sector contributes 15 percent to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) said Manus Grobler, Head of Strategic Banking at Standard Bank. Grobler said this during an event celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN). The Association celebrated with a record number of 130 participants during its AGM and trade forum in November. At a glittering gala event the annual eco tourism awards were announced. Anett Kötting of Hotel Zum Kaiser in Swakopmund received the ‘HAN Personality of the Year’ award, Tristan Böhme of Okonjima Lodge was elected as ‘Hotel Manager of the Year’, Wessie van der Westhuizen, MD of Namibia Breweries Ltd received the ‘Tourism Personality of the Year’ award. Gondwana Collection’s Namib Desert Lodge received the ‘Five Flowers’ eco award, which equals five stars. 

Gondwana Collection expands

The tourism company Gondwana Collection issued shares to employees who were permanently employed 12 months or longer by 1 November 2017. CEO Gys Joubert called this move a milestone in the 22-year history of the company. Gondwana reports 15 percent growth and a 67 percent average room occupancy for 2017. A brand new lodge, ‘The Desert Grace’ is currently under construction in southern Namibia.

The company opened a new lodge in the Zambezi Region in November. The Zambezi Mubala Lodge (former Kalizo Lodge) is situated about 40 km east of Katima Mulilo. 

NAPHA against canned hunting

The Namibia Professional Hunters’ Association (NAPHA) criticised a decision by the South African Association for Professional Hunters to allow canned lion/predator hunting. Canned hunting means that lions and other predators are bred in captivity and released for trophy hunting in bush camps. This method is regarded as unethical by conservationists. NAPHA does not condone canned hunting among its members. Trophy hunting in Namibia has 15,000 direct and indirect jobs and generates some N$450 million (about 30 million Euros) on commercial farms and N$50 million (about 3.4 million Euros) in communal conservancies. 

Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta attended the AGM of NAPHA on 28 November and declared he did not support canned hunting. The Minister announced that a new Wildlife Management Bill was being drawn up and a new code of conduct for hunting. 

This month Minister Shifeta also inaugurated an anti–poaching camp inside the Etosha National Park. The cost of N$1 million was co-funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and the government of Japan. Sadly, three more rhinos were poached in November, all on private land, bringing the total number of rhinos killed by poachers to thirty. Shifeta further noted that a second project for climate change resilience in Namibia was approved by the UN Convention Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC). Namibia receives N$155.9 million (about 10 million Euros) from the GEF over five years to implement integrated (rural) landscape management in the Zambezi and the two Kavango Regions.

Russian oligarch wants more farms

Russian billionaire oligarch Rashid Sardarov, who owns a 48,000 hectare hunting lodge (Marula Game Ranch) near Dordabis, wants to add another 18,000 ha land to his property. In a full page newspaper advertisement his local law firm offered donations of N$24 million to various government institutions, if the government grants him permission to buy more farms. Foreigners are not allowed to own farms in Namibia, only up to 50 percent in partnership with locals.

More investments

The De Beers subsidiary Debmarine Namibia, commissioned the construction of another diamond mining ship for US$ 142 million (about N$2 billion). The ship will be 176 m long and is to be completed in early 2021.

The Windhoek municipality will invest in a new water reclamation plant next to the existing Gammams plant. Estimated costs to be N$1.1 billion (about 73 million Euros). Water scarcity and population growth mainly necessitate this investment.

At Walvis Bay, the Ehika Fishing Company invested N$27 million (about 1.8 million Euros) in a horse mackerel processing plant and cold storage facilities. Ehika will process horse mackerel into fish bread and fish sausages. 

Meanwhile Russian, as well as Chinese, investors toured Namibia to look for investment projects, no details were disclosed. The National Planning Commission signed agreement with a Chinese company for the construction of a dual highway from Windhoek to the Hosea-Kutako-International-Kutako- Airport.

A local commercial bank now offers services at Automatic teller Machines in local languages, apart from English. The additional languages at Bank Windhoek ATM’s are German, Otjiherero and Oshiwambo. 

Two milestones reached

The karakul industry celebrated 110 years of existence, since the first karakul sheep arrived in Namibia in 1907. Despite ups and downs, the karakul industry persisted and the pelts are internationally known under the Swakara label. 

Similarly, the Salt Company in Swakopmund celebrated its 80th anniversary. Founded in November 1936 by Rudolf Klein, it is still run by the family, joined by the fourth generation. The company produces 120,000 tons of salt per annum, mainly for export. 

More jobs and development

National Planning Minister Tom Alweendo, published the final report on the NDP4 (fourth National Development Plan), which ran from April 2012 to March 2017. Some 75,544 jobs were created, the aim was 90,000 jobs. Per capita income during NDP4 increased from N$42,000 to N$47,000 (some 3,334 Euros) annually. Absolute poverty was reduced from 28 percent to 18 percent of the total population since 2010. Namibia’s population stands at 2.3 million according to the latest demographic report. Only 52 percent of the population still lives in rural areas, 48 percent live in towns. Forty percent of housing in urban areas are shacks. 

Changes to economic strategy

The local daily newspaper The Namibian, reported on 9 November that the ruling SWAPO party apparently decided at its monthly politburo meeting to change the party ideology from capitalism to socialism. The future socialistic economic path is to “reflect the Namibian character”. This decision was to be brought before the SWAPO elective congress, which was held from 26 to 28 November. No details could be obtained. SWAPO elected a new party leadership. The land question was also discussed. Outgoing SWAPO Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba revealed that all land issues would be discussed at an extra-ordinary SWAPO congress “hopefully in 2018”. 

Coastal changes 

The skyline of Swakopmund might change drastically if plans for a 40 metre skyscraper close to the historic lighthouse go ahead. The Urban and Rural Development Ministry approved a submission of the Swakopmund municipality to allow new buildings up to 40 metres high. Many residents are against this and are collecting signatures for a petition.

Similarly, the quiet Langstrand beach front area between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay will change. The Walvis Bay municipality plans a beach road in front of the residential properties, the owners are up in arms.

Brigitte Weidlich

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