Namibian Economics to the point - May 2019 - News - Gondwana Collection


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Namibian Economics to the point - May 2019

Avatar of inke inke - 28. May 2019 - Economics

Brigitte Weidlich

With the rainy season over and winter approaching, President Hage Geingob declared a national drought emergency in Namibia on 6 May. Government has requested all working Namibians to donate two percent of their monthly income as a once-off contribution for drought support and youth programmes. The Windhoek municipality informed residents that they must save 15 percent water, up from 10 percent, due to low dam levels after a bad rainy season.

The presidents of Guinea and Tanzania arrived for state visits this month. Also, a Russian delegation led by Yuri Trutnev, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation came to Windhoek for bilateral cooperation negotiations. Several agreements were signed with all three visitors to set the scene for economic cooperation, with details to be announced in due course.

The commission investigating ancestral land claims announced that it would receive written submissions for land claims from 20 May. The wholly state-owned company Mobile Telecommunications (MTC) officially announced its intention to list on the Namibian stock exchange by June 2020, the first public enterprise to do so. Petrol prices increased by 70 cents a litre and diesel by 20 cents. Namibia’s inflation rate stood at 4.5 percent on 30 April, compared to 4.4 percent in March.

Government rolls out drought emergency aid

President Hage Geingob declared a national drought emergency on 6 May, which will remain in place until October. The government earmarked N$572,7 million (about 35,4 million Euros) for drought aid. Households with a monthly income below N$2,600 (about 162 Euros) receive basic monthly food rations for this period. Communal and commercial farmers will be refunded for transporting their cattle and small livestock to better grazing areas, among others. Fodder subsidies for core herds will be provided.

Farmers’ organisations have also started collecting donations. A local commercial bank has made the biggest donation of N$1 million (about 61,995 Euros) to the ‘Dare to Care’ fund, to support drought-stricken farmers. The US Embassy in Namibia will provide N$1.44 million (about 89,340 Euros) to the Namibia Red Cross Society to render humanitarian aid to drought-affected communities.

State wants 2% income from citizens

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has started negations with labour unions and the private sector to discuss the government’s intention to request Namibians to donate two percent of their monthly income as a once-off voluntary contribution to state coffers. The money is to be used for drought aid, youth skills and entrepreneurship programmes. Details where to pay the money have not been made public yet. Members of the 170,000 strong civil service can sign a consent form and have the 2% deducted once-off from their salaries. According to the Prime Minister’s spokesperson Saima Shaanika, all political office bearers, from Cabinet Ministers to members of parliament apparently agreed to donate their two percent for a period of twelve months.

In an effort to stimulate the local economy, the government has directed all government entities to first and foremost procure from Namibian companies, including service providers. From 23 May onwards, government ministries, authorities and public enterprises may not import bottled water, cleaning materials, fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry or dairy products. Exceptions are allowed when local delivery cannot satisfy the demand. With regard to service providers, only local cleaning and laundry services may be contracted, including catering service, event management, travel agents, research and training services.

Namibia wins award at tourism indaba

The largest tourism expo on the continent, the Africa Trade Indaba took place in Durban, South Africa this month. As usual, all Namibian tourism companies had a group stand at the Indaba under the auspices of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB). Namibia won the platinum award for the best exhibition stand. NTB Chief Executive Officer Digu Naobeb received the award on behalf of Namibia. Some 27 Namibian companies took part in this year’s Indaba.

NTB Chief Digu Naobeb shows the platinum award, Namibia has won at the Africa Trade Indaba 2019 in Durban. Photo: NTB

In other news, Namibia’s Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) announced that well-known Namibian model Behati Prinsloo, who now lives in the USA, will promote SRT internationally from now on. Prinsloo recently visited her home country to familiarise herself with efforts to protect rhinos and the fight against poaching.

Meanwhile, a Mexican billionaire, Alberto Baillieres has bought the 65,000-hectare private nature reserve and tourism resort Erindi between Okahandja and Otjiwarongo for an undisclosed amount. The sale is subject to the approval of the Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC).

The Ministry of Home Affairs has stated issuing tamper-free visa stickers for passports and will phase out visa stamps. “This is a milestone for Namibia and will significantly reduce fraud,” the Ministry stated.

Namibia’s internationally known top model Behati Prinsloo, who lives in the USA, will internationally promote Namibia’s efforts to protect rhinos against poaching. Photo by Instagram

More Chinese tourists to Namibia

Standard Bank Namibia and the Chinese banking company Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) jointly unveiled the "I Go Namibia" programme in Windhoek to promote bilateral tourism. This initiative is part of ICBC's "I Go Global" rewards scheme. ICBC cardholders travelling to Namibia will enjoy benefits, including exclusive discounts. Equally, Standard Bank's cardholders can enjoy similar exclusive benefits when travelling in China. Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said the programme marked a new chapter in Namibia’s tourism history. More Chinese tourists started visiting Namibia in the past years. In 2017 Namibia received about 10,000 Chinese tourists, 16.6 percent more than in 2016. The collaboration is also set to drive investment in the sectors of infrastructure, education, job creation, cultural exchanges, and innovation. Namibia is the fourth African country to implement ICBC's "I Go" programme after South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.

Air Namibia cancels Lagos-Accra route

The national airline Air Namibia has cancelled its flight to Lagos in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana on 24 May, citing economically low load factors, due to diplomatic difficulties. Flights started in June 2018 and averaged a 55 percent passenger load but dropped to around 35% from February to April. “During February 2019, the Nigerian High Commission in Namibia stopped issuing visas to Namibian passport holders, and messages were circulating that allegedly Nigerians are ill-treated by Namibian border control officers at the Hosea Kutako International Airport”, the airline stated in a media release. Despite efforts to resolve the diplomatic impasse, passenger loads remained low. 

Diamond giant De Beers to invest N$7 billion

Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between De Beers and the Namibian government announced that it commissioned the construction of the world’s first ever custom-built diamond recovery vessel. The new vessel will cost N$7 billion (about 434 million Euros) and is the largest ever single investment in the marine diamond industry. The ship will commence operations in 2022 and is expected to add 500,000 carats annually to Debmarine Namibia’s production, an increase of approximately 35 percent on current production. The largest ship-building company of the Netherlands, Damen Shipyards was selected to build the new vessel, albeit at its Mangalia shipyard in Romania.

Bruce Cleaver, CEO of the De Beers Group, said: “Some of the highest quality diamonds in the world are found at sea off the Namibian coast. With this investment we will be able to optimise new technology to find and recover diamonds more efficiently and meet growing consumer demand across the globe.”

Solar desalination plant at Henties Bay

The University of Namibia (UNAM) has, together with a Finnish partner and Finnish support, set up a prototype desalination plant powered by solar panels at Henties Bay. Founding President Sam Nujoma inaugurated the off-grid plant this month. The plant consists of a reverse osmosis system in a container and it can produce 3.5 cubic metres of drinking water per hour. The water will be used for the town’s water supply and for irrigation. More such prototype desalination plants are planned for Bethanie and Grünau in southern Namibia.

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