Namibian Economics to the point – May 2018 - News - Gondwana Collection

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Namibian Economics to the point – May 2018

Avatar of inke inke - 01. June 2018 - Economics


Brigitte Weidlich

Unexpected rains in the middle of May also hit Namibia’s central coast, flooding streets at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. Angola and Namibia agreed to a joint-development on a trans-frontier nature park on the Kunene River, along the common border. The Lufthansa subsidiary, Eurowings, introduced its first flight from Munich to Windhoek this month. Namibian scientist Japie van Zyl made his home country proud when launching the NASA Marslander Insight Mission in California, USA. According the Namibia Statistics Agency, inflation ticked slightly upwards to 3.6 percent in April, compared to 3.5 percent in March.

Important visitors

The new Angolan President Joao Lourenço paid a state visit to Namibia in May. Several agreements were signed, among them to jointly develop the Iona Skeleton Coast Transfrontier Park, along the Kunene River. The area in south-western Angola was declared as Iona Park by that government several years ago, but has not been developed. With Namibia joining in now, the area towards the river mouth on both sides of the Kunene will be developed as a nature and wildlife conservation area as well as a tourism destination. President Lourenço was inaugurated in November 2017. Both governments also discussed additional routes for Air Namibia to Angolan towns like Ondjiva, Lubango, Namibe and Benguela. “We discussed how to utilise agreements signed in earlier years in areas such as roads, railways and energy projects,” said Lourenço.

The chairman of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat, visited Namibia on invitation by President Hage Geingob. They discussed continental integration including the ‘Single African Air Transport Market’ in Africa and the ‘African Continental Free Trade Area’.

Mahamat was accompanied by the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, among others. Mahamat’s spokesperson at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa is a Namibian media expert, Ebba Kalondo, sister of First Lady Monica Geingos. 

China donated thirty new off-road vehicles to the anti-poaching unit in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The Chairperson of China’s National People’s Congress, Li Zhanshu officially visited Namibia this month. He also handed over 500 tents, 600 moisture-proof camping mattresses, 600 sleeping bags, 100 binoculars, 100 solar-powered batteries and 1000 mosquito nets for the anti-poaching unit. The total value of the donation is N$15 million (about one million Euros) and will significantly support efforts to protect particularly rhinos and elephants from poachers.

Namibia’s own scientist at US space agency 

A Namibian space scientist who hails from Outjo is part of the team that successfully launched the robotic Mars lander in California. President Hage Geingob phoned Dr Japie van Zyl at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to congratulate him for the internationally watched launch of its robotic “InSight Mars lander” from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA. A Namibian being the director of the Solar System Exploration at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory was a “brain gain” for Van Zyl’s home country, the President said. 

The Mars lander will study the interior and sub-surface of Mars after touchdown on 26 November 2018. Van Zyl visited Namibia later in May and had an audience with President Geingob at the State House. Van Zyl received an honour’s degree cum laude in electronic engineering from Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He completed his master's and his doctorate in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology and later joined NASA. 

Tourism takes limelight

The annual Namibia Tourism Expo took place in Windhoek this month and celebrated its twentieth anniversary. Tourism contributes about ten percent to the Namibian economy, some 1.4 million foreign tourists visit the country annually.

The local tourism group Gondwana Collection has hosted a large group of tour operators at the Expo to inform them of its latest developments, including a new lodge in southern Namibia, The Desert Grace. The company further launched new websites like Namibia Outdoor – a joint venture with outdoor supplier CYMOT, which will be released later in the year.  As well as its own newspaper, ‘Namibia Focus’. The newspaper is published as a print edition in English and in German and also online.

Gondwana further updated its online privacy policy and is now GDRP compliant. Gondwana’s privacy policy is now aligned to the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into effect on 25 May 2018. As a result the company now provides more information on how it uses personal data of users and what their new rights are.

Cleaning the country

President Hage Geingob called all residents in Namibia to unite and join him in a national clean-up campaign on Africa Day, 25 May. Thousands heeded his call and enthusiastically collected refuse in all 14 regions. Tonnes of rubbish was gathered by young and old and separated into recyclables and non-recyclable waste. The latter will be consumed by the Ohorongo cement factory near Otavi to fire up its kilns to produce cement. 

Staff of Gondwana Collection joined the cleanup all over the country (see #itsup2us). 

Several investments

The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) launched the SUNREF (Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Environment Finance) programme in Namibia. AFD provides 45 million Euros (about N$675 million). Of this amount, some 15 million Euros (N$225 million) was disbursed to three local commercial banks. They will loan these funds to private-sector applicants for investments in green technologies like renewable energy, sustainable tourism and sustainable agriculture investments. One million Euros (about N$15 million) was allocated to the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia. This will enable the EIF to establish a Technical Assistance Facility (TFA) to simplify interactions between project sponsors and the participating banks. “Although Namibia is a net sink of greenhouse gases, which are a cause of the changing climate, interventions to mitigate climate change such as renewable energy, waste-to-energy projects and cleaner transportation offer excellent opportunities for a cleaner and greener Namibia,” said Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta at the launch. 

The Ohlthaver & List Group has completed the first part of its Wernhil shopping centre expansion in Windhoek. Some ten more shops will open on 1 June 2018 at Wernhil and more parking bays were added. So far, N$160 million of the N$450 million earmarked for the Phase-4 expansion has been spent. By June 2019, a total of 80 new shops and 19,000 square metres will be added. A pedestrian bridge is currently under construction, to link the existing mall to the new section of the shopping centre. 

Court rules on land tax

The Windhoek High Court granted the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (AgriBank) an order to allow farm owners to pay land tax. This ruling came while a legal challenge against the farm valuations concluded in 2012 is still pending. On 21 February the Court granted an interim order to farmers that they need not pay land tax in terms of tax assessments made in 2012 until the main court case is heard later in 2018.

The February court order however, resulted in a halt in the transfer of the ownership of farms sold to new owners, according to AgriBank. 

Deal with China falls through

The Minister Transport and Public Works has declared a deal signed between the Roads Contractor Company (RCC) and a Chinese company without his knowledge as “invalid” and ordered it to be halted. 

The state-owned RCC concluded the agreement on 9 April 2018 with the company Nantong Sanjian, for a N$580 loan to avoid to be closed down. Under The Chinese company was said to inject N$580 million (about 38,6 million Euros) into the cash-strapped RCC in exchange for carrying out road projects in Namibia worth some N$2 billion (about 134 million Euros). “This agreement is invalid and unenforceable by law,” Minister John Mutorwa announced this month. Efforts to rescue the RCC and jobs for 400 employees will continue. 

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