Millions roll in for Windhoek
The capital's economy is expected to benefit from the many SADC delegates attending the summit and who need all sorts of goods and services.
18 August 2018 | Economics
Calle Schlettwein; Minister of Finance “The prospects are that we will gain more than what we have to pay as the host.”
Apart from the prestige of hosting the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Windhoek, the capital will receive a much-needed cash injection in the week to come.
With an anticipated 700 delegates from the 15 other member countries and about 50 journalists from elsewhere in the region jetting in, “the list of companies and SMEs rendering services is endless”, says Liseli Mukubonda, head of corporate communication in the ministry of industrialisation, trade and SME development. This ministry has been tasked to organise the summit.
“We contracted companies for various services – tourism, technology, communication, hospitality, catering, transport, health, pharmaceuticals and paramedics, among others,” he said.
He however cautioned that Namibians think the amount of N$50 million the media reported on is only for the summit. “The budgeted N$50 million is for hosting the summit as well as for other statutory meetings during our tenure period (August 2018 – August 2019) as chair. What the summit costs us will only be known afterwards.”
Calle Schlettwein, minister of finance, told Windhoek Express the impact on the local economy will be “quite significant”. According to him the payments signed off by his ministry by last week already amounted to about N$10 million.
“People must sleep, eat, be transported. . . The hospitality industry together with the logistic guys and the airlines will probably benefit the most. The prospects are that we will gain more than what we have to pay as the host.”
Tjekero Tweya, his counterpart in the ministry of industrialisation, trade and SME development, concurred. “Go to the summit at the Safari (Conference Centre) and you will see the direct benefits. Talk to the caterers, the SMEs providing food, the taxis transporting people left, right and centre. They are using our banks to draw money to spend in our shops.
“Many of the delegates are already in the hotels, and the B&Bs and the ministers will start coming in on Sunday (today),” Tweya says.
Both he and the permanent secretary in his ministry, Gabriel Sinimbo, were hesitant to give figures on how many hotel and guesthouse rooms will be occupied and how many additional vehicles were sourced from car rental companies to transport delegates.
“The summit just started and it is not fair to run over figures yet. Let’s wait with the statistics till after the event,” Tweya said.
According to Mukubonda it is the prerogative of each member state to decide on the number of its delegates. “We anticipate more than 700 people will attend the summit meetings, including domestic delegates. The number of vehicles isn’t established as yet, as transport is provided upon request. Government has sourced vehicles from all its offices, ministries and agencies.”
Furthermore, he said, Namibia will “based on reciprocity” pay for the accommodation of three members of each country’s delegation. That amounts to 45 rooms.
New Era earlier quoted Tweya saying that four presidential and 11 luxury rooms at the Windhoek Country Club, Safari, Avani and Hilton hotels have been reserved for heads of state and government.
About 11 vehicles per head of state and government are budgeted for as the SADC minimum requirement for the host country. “For the provision of vehicles to heads of state and government and their delegations, more than 200 vehicles are needed and the government fleet cannot accommodate the number. Therefore government needs to approach the private sector to ascertain the cost of hiring additional vehicles,” he said as quoted by New Era.
Brumelda English, senior information officer in the ministry of information and communication technology, says some 200 journalist received accreditation for the summit, of which about 50 are from elsewhere in the region.