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


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Namibian Economics to the Point – October 2017

Avatar of inke inke - 02. November 2017 - Economics

Several Namibian Regions received the first good rainfall at the end of October, while the meteorological authority predicts a normal to just below normal rainfall this rainy season. Petrol and diesel prices remained unchanged this month.

The Bank of Namibia kept its repo rate unchanged at 6.75 percent in October, after a decrease from 7 percent to 6.75 percent in August. Inflation for September increased slightly to 5.6 percent (August: 5.4%) according to the National Statistics Authority (NSA). Vehicle sales improved slightly during September with 1,163 vehicles sold, compared to 1,094 vehicles in August.

Higher economic growth

The governor of the Central Bank, Ipumbu Shiimi, is confident about Namibia’s economic growth. Shiimi expects a growth of 2.2 percent for 2017, based on better performance in mining and agriculture. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts 0.8 percent growth for Namibia in its latest World Economic Outlook report. 

Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein visited the international rating agency Moody’s in London this month, and expressed the Namibian government’s unhappiness with the downgrade at the end of August, to below investment status. Schlettwein noted that there had been no consultations between Moody’s and the government, only some email exchanges. He emphasized that Namibia’s fiscal situation had improved considerably by August this year, compared to September 2016. Minister Schlettwein will render his mid-term review budget speech to Parliament in early November. 

Higher wages

The government has increased the fixed wages for domestic workers from 01 October 2017. Domestic workers receive N$1,502.05 per month. Previously it was N$1,353.20 monthly. Government introduced the minimum wage for domestic workers a year ago. Meanwhile, in the construction sector an agreement has not yet been reached for a wage increase between labour unions and the Construction Industries Federation. Negotiations continue.

New investments

A Spanish group would like to produce white asparagus in northern Namibia, which will be exported to several countries. A 10-year lease agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to grow white asparagus was signed. This will be on 60 hectares at the government’s agriculture project at Etunda near Ruacana. According to IAN representative Carlos Lertxundi, some 460 tons of asparagus will be harvested annually. The company also wants to invest N$25 million (about N$1.6 million Euros) into an asparagus processing factory at Ruacana next year. 

In the same vein the Spanish fishing company Pescanova has invested in three new fishing vessels via its Namibian subsidiary NovaNam. The company has a large fish factory at Lüderitz. The three new vessels will each be 50 metres long and the total investment is N$480 million (about 32 million Euros). The first fishing trawler will be delivered in 2019. The company employs 1,800 people at Lüderitz.

New shopping centre

At Walvis Bay, the second largest shopping centre in Namibia opened its doors on 26 October. A N$700 million (about 46 million Euros) investment flowed into the ‘Dunes Mall’.  It is yet another brain child of the South African company Safland, which already built the Grove Mall in Windhoek and smaller shopping centres in other towns. 

The local ICT company, Paratus intends to invest N$ 150 million (about 10 million Euros) in Namibia over the next three years. According to its Chief Executive Officer, Barney Harmse, N$100 million (about 6.7 million Euros) will flow into the company’s fibre expansion programme. Paratus has established fully licensed subsidiaries in Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Angola. It already delivers ICT products and services to 22 African countries. 

President Hage Geingob has symbolically handed over two houses to families in Walvis Bay. The houses are part of 243 affordable houses completed so far under the government’s mass urban land servicing programme, which started in 2015. About 169 houses are already occupied and were sold to qualifying persons under a subsidised scheme.

Developments in tourism

The popular online lodging service ‘Airbnb’ has also gained ground in Namibia. The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) has now issued public notices that all persons offering Airbnb accommodation must register at the NTB by 31 December. Not doing so is against the law, the NTB warned.

US-President Donald Trump’s ‘Nambia’ blunder in September put Namibia on the world map, which was free advertising, as President Hage Geingob put it. The tourism company Gondwana-Collection published a tongue-in-cheek video on YouTube in reaction to Trump’s Freudian slip. This month the renowned South African television programme ‘Maggs on Media’ showcased the Gondwana video. Presenter Jeremy Maggs said it was “one of the best inadvertent country marketing campaigns [he had] ever seen”. 

The Gondwana Collection has added a new website (web store) and now an offers online payment system for (online) bookings, being the first tourism company in Namibia to do so. In addition, Gondwana’s new Zambezi Mubala Lodge – situated in the Zambezi Region - opened its doors on 1 November.

Island of St Helena

The small Island of St Helena, where Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte lived as prisoner is now reachable via airplane. The maiden flight from Johannesburg via Windhoek to St Helena landed on 14 October. The airport was constructed with cement made in Namibia from the Ohorongo cement factory. 

Namibia’s famous feral horses - also known as the wild horses of the Namib Desert - are at the brink of extinction and need help. Three consecutive years of drought and hyenas preying on young foals and weaker horses are taking their toll. Donations are required for fodder, according to the Wild Horses Foundation. Some fodder was donated, but this is not enough. The horses are a big tourist attraction in southern Namibia.    

Oranjemund freely accessible

The once isolated town of Oranjemund in the forbidden diamond area (Sperrgebiet) in southern Namibia has officially opened its doors on 21 October. Special permission or Police clearance certificates are no longer necessary. On-land diamond production will cease by 2022. Oranjemund is preparing for a future without diamonds, focussing inter alia on tourism. The new tar road from Rosh Pinah along the scenic Orange River to Oranjemund has been completed and is accessible. The road is 98 km long and cost N$714 million (about 47.5 million Euros).

The Angelina Jolie factor

US-actress and UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie once again put Namibia on the world map: the US-Harper Bazaar magazine did a spectacular fashion photo shoot in the Namib Desert with her. Harper celebrated its 150th anniversary with Jolie featuring on the magazine’s title page and an open letter written by Jolie. In it she describes what Namibia means to her. Jolie’s oldest biological daughter, Shiloh was born in Namibia in 2006.

No to donkey abattoirs

Two Chinese companies plan to erect an abattoir for donkey meat in Outjo and Okahandja respectively. The Windhoek Society for the Protection of Animals (SPCA) has warned together with the British-based organisation Donkey Welfare, about the danger of donkey abattoirs. Several African countries have stopped exports of donkey skin and meat to China or donkey abattoirs altogether. Prices for donkeys has skyrocketed and the animals are often stolen from poor rural people to be sold to these abattoirs. Donkeys are the only means of transport for rural people. Gondwana-Collection has together with Namibian musician Ees and production company, Prostudios, created a donkey video via YouTube, which is linked to a petition “Save our Donkeys”. To date, thousands of people people signed the Avaaz online petition.

China interested in agriculture  

During a China-Africa information-sharing conference on agriculture in Windhoek, Chinese diplomats revealed that China wants to get involved in farming, growing vegetables, rice, maize and millet in Namibia. No concrete projects have been identified so far.

Brigitte Weidlich

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