Trade deputy visits Erongo
Gearing towards Vision 2030
01 November 2020 | Ministries
Verna Sinimbo; Deputy minister; “Attaining industrialisation will not only depend on the singular efforts by the ministry; it has to be a collective action…”
The deputy minister of industrialisation and trade Verna Sinimbo visited the Erongo region to familiarise herself with the ministry’s projects and activities.
She attributed the majority of challenges encountered by the business sector in the region to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Pre-Covid-19, local businesses did not establish a local customer base and mostly depended on tourists as their customers. This situation brought about a reduction in their cash flow.”
Sinimbo said some businesses are unable to honour their rental contracts and had to take hard decisions for them to stay in operation.
“They ended up retrenching some employees due to slow business during the pandemic. Now that the restrictions are lifted and we are moving back to normal, I am excited that entrepreneurs are trying hard to revive their businesses.”
The deputy minister visited the Peugeot Opel Assembly Namibia plant in Walvis Bay, which some have now dubbed “a white elephant”.
“The Peugeot plant has demonstrated its capacity to assemble the vehicles it was intended to. The plant has employed 22 Namibians and is gearing up to export vehicles.”
However, Sinimbo said the plant was experiencing an export duty matter that is currently being resolved to ensure that the cars assembled can finally be sold.
“It’s not a matter of not meeting production targets. Other aspects of production target were not an issue as we have demonstrated our ability to assemble here in Namibia.”
She stated that she is not aware of cars being assembled in South Africa with Namibia only doing certain jobs.
“The Namibian plant is centred on assembling parts imported and then creating a fully-fledged car.”
On whether Namibia has made any profit from the plant, Sinimbo said that the creation of an industry from scratch does not necessarily translate into profits immediately.
“Projects like this will take some time to start making a profit – that is if you are focusing only on financial profit. We are more interested in ensuring economic profit – jobs created, value chain linkages created, local content created, technological transfer and spill over effects as well as the creation of regional sourcing opportunities to help drive both SADC and SACU industrialisation imperatives.”
Sinimbo pointed out that there are many Namibian entities embracing new instruments such as 3D printers and mobile applications to drive efficiencies in their operations.
“Even our ministry recently purchased 3D printers to ensure that we can support the production of essential Covid-19 items such as medical masks and ventilators.”
Pertaining to vision 2030, Sinimbo stated that Namibia’s regional manufacturing value added to the economy, hovers around 11 – 12%.
The service sector on the other hand, constitutes a larger section, approaching up 60% of GDP in many countries in the region.
“It remains imperative for Namibia to continue focusing on expanding the manufacturing side of the equation whilst equally ensuring integration of both sectors, as the service component of some manufacturers becomes are imperative to the whole value chain.”
According to Sinimbo, the country has done very well in the service sector. “Both the public but mainly the private sector, need to do more to attain more than 30% of manufacturing value added to the economy by 2030,” she said.
She added it is suffice to say, that attaining industrialisation will not only depend on the singular efforts of her ministry of industrialisation, but is to be a collective action as major interventions are needed.
“These include supportive project enhancements on energy costs, industrial land availability, viable communication costs, preferential procurement in both public and private spheres for locally produced manufactures and other economic incentives.
“Some of these supportive project enhancements are to be captured in new policy and legislative work such as for the Special Economic Zones regime, which will eventually be tabled in the National Assembly for adoption and approval.”
Sinimbo stated that the ministry has identified in the Growth at Home Strategy Agenda, that there is still vast potential in meat (both livestock and game meat) and fish processing; horticulture processing; minerals beneficiation; biomass and bio-economy; tourism development; and the marketing of Namibia as service centre with modern information communication technology; the road transportation system; and harbour services.
“Harnessing these strategic areas and sectors will ultimately enable us to ensure that our Vision 2030 and SADC Industrialisation Agenda are fully attained on a firmer footing.”