Namibia ready for more local growth

Small business development, informal sector inclusion, inclusion and untapped creativity targetted

30 September 2021 | Business

Lucia IipumbuMinister of Industrialisation and Trade“Local products are affordable. It is just a myth that they are not affordable.”

Windhoek ∙ [email protected]

The national campaign to buy local and grow the Namibian economy has entered its second phase and according to the minister of industrialisation and trade, Lucia Iipumbu, will build on the success of the first phase launched last year.

“This campaign is crucial in ensuring that our local businesses are part and parcel of our nation’s economic recovery plan from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she told partners and invited guests at the UN House headquarters of the United Nations in Namibia yesterday.

“The reality on the ground is that our local market is dominated by foreign imports and that the local producers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs find it difficult to access retail shelf space for a variety of reasons,” she elaborated. “Some of the challenges relate to quality standards, access to finance and distributions channels to name a few,” she added.

When asked later minister Iipumbu insisted that “local products are affordable. It is just a myth that they are not affordable. This whole process is meant to simplify the costs which were often pushed up by middlemen. Now we use our own NSI (Namibia Standards Institute) to certify quality and we have our own bar-codes, but honestly speaking Namibian products are affordable,” she said.

In her speech the minister made specific mention of the recently launched Namibian barcode, “which is expected to ease the access of local products in the local and global marketplace. The unique Namibian barcode was given final approval in May 2021 by the Global GS1 Office General Assembly in Geneva, and was officially launched last week.”

Namibia’s unique barcode number is 631. “The code of up to 13 numbers also identifies the manufacturer, the product and the production batch. This was one of the factors that was found to significantly impact access to local markets,” Iipumbu said.

She thanked campaign partners such as the United Nations Namibia, The Namibia Trade Forum, Team Namibia, The Namibian Newspaper as the official media partner, Weathermen, NIPDB and participating retailers.

Distribution is Expensive

Namibia Trade Forum marketing and communications manager Nankelo Amupadhi said the success of phase 1 was shown by positive response from businesses and an increase of 40% in the number of local products sold by retailers.

One example is Food Lovers Market which sells 90% local produce sourced from 160 Namibian farmers. According to general manager Marius Brundyn distribution is still expensive in Namibia: “How to we work together to make it work?” he asked and added that there is a need to educate customers about Namibian produce.

The UNDP resident representative Alka Bhatia say more local farm products are showcased in local markets thanks to the campaign. A recent UN diagnostic shows that the informal sector employs 52% of working Namibians and of 34 000 small and medium enterprises, less than half are registered. She stressed the need for inclusion and noted the impact facility for financial support for proposals begin run by the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) and the trade ministery.

At the same event Sen Pang, the UN Namibia Resident Coordinator said that it warms his heart “to hear testimonies of how phase 1 of this campaign helped increase sales for several female owned businesses, small businesses and traders in the informal sector. This shows real impact on the ground,” he said.

Untapped Resources

Other areas that the second phase of the campaign will focus on include capacity building for small businesses, the Tambula e-commerce platform, and funding for which the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) has helped develop NamStarter to enable crowd funding.

Promoting local tourism with the Namibia Tourism Board and also the creative industries will now receive attention. Deputy director of arts M'kariko Amagulu described the creative industry as an untapped sector of the economy, and called for a trade policy change to get local music into retailers like Musica, while her ministry reforms the country’s copyright law. “Heritage is also a product, but dependent of skills rather than raw materials,” she added.

A retail week will soon see stores highlighting Namibian products while the Namibian plans a special publication for local products with reduced advertising rates according to the Namibian’s head of marketing and sales.