31 Jul 2020
Cold winter weather prevailed in the Namibian interior throughout July, while the coastal areas experienced warm east wind weather.
Germany pledged N$250 million (about N$13 million Euros) in support for Namibia‘s communal conservancies.
An Australian mining company announced its discovery of significant uranium reserves in the Erongo Region.
The government has applied for a N$4.5 billion (about 230 million Euros) loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finance part of its budget deficit and help cover costs of the Covid-19 pandemic. If approved, the IMF loan will be available under more favourable debt conditions due to the worldwide Corona virus crisis.
Inflation showed a slight increase to 2.14 percent by the end of June (May: 2.06%), according to the statistics agency.
Generous support for Namibia’s environmental areas
The German Federal Government has mobilised N$ 250 million (about 13 million Euros) to support the Namibian Government, through the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, in mitigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the conservation and tourism sectors.
These sectors have been affected significantly by income losses, caused by the worldwide lockdown measures and international travel restrictions, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be provided through the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) to the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) through its Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilient Facility.
Some of the funds will go to the ‘Poverty Oriented Support to Human Wildlife Conflict Management Project’, which is implemented by the Community Conservation Fund of Namibia (CCFN). The aim is to support communal conservancies and the local tourism sector during these challenging times. This will secure ongoing employment of community game guards and local people working for the conservancies and conservancy tourism business.
Another portion of the funds will benefit Namibia’s national parks and protected areas to ensure the continuation of anti-poaching and wildlife crime prevention measures and to
continue ongoing patrols and implementation of park regulations. Ellen Gölz, charge d'affaires at the German embassy, said the current global decline in tourism is hitting Namibia hard, with the effect felt acutely by nature-based tourism companies and members of conservancies.
The KAZA project (Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area) is similarly impacted by the pandemic and will also receive some funding from the N$250 million. Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are partners in this project.
In a similar vein, the European Commission in Namibia made N$22 million available (about 1,17 million Euros) for KAZA and conservation efforts in Namibia’s communal conservancies.
Sniffer dogs of anti-poaching unit receive donations
The important role of specially trained sniffer dogs in the fight against poaching came into the spotlight, when several of the four-pawed members travelled all the way to Windhoek with their handlers this month to receive the well-deserved donations.
A local bank, a veterinary supplies company and a veterinary clinic as well as a private hospital donated vaccination supplies and other necessities like dog food for the canines. In addition, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism received a brand new off-road vehicle, which was specially modified to transport four sniffer dogs when on duty.
The well-behaved dogs followed the donation ceremony attentively and could not hide their excitement when they were allowed to jump into their compartments on the loading zone of the vehicle. The MEFT currently has five sniffer dogs in the ‘K9 Unit’ (K9 – a word play with the word ‘canine’) and – depending on availability of funds – will receive another four from overseas, once international travels are permitted again. “The dogs of the K9 Unit are specially trained to search buildings, vehicles, baggage and open areas for firearms, ammunition and illegal wildlife products such as ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales and bush meat,” MEFT Minister Pohamba Shifeta explained. They are also capable of tracking human scent over different terrains during day and night.
Ancestral land commission submits report to government
The presidential commission of inquiry for ancestral land presented its final report and recommendations to President Hage Geingob this month. Geingob appointed the commission back in March 2019 to investigate claims of ancestral land rights and restitution.
The 15 members of the commission visited all 121 constituencies in Namibia’s 14 regions and conducted public hearings last year. Individuals and communities that lost land of their ancestors could make oral and written submissions. The commission also looked into the possibility of establishing alternative measures to restore social justice, and ensure the economic empowerment of the affected communities.
The High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele, who chairs the commission, told President Geingob that some 8,391 persons attended the public hearings while 1,738 made oral testimonies and 748 written submissions, totalling 4 500 pages, were received.
“We can confidently say, the report has laid a sufficient and basic ground for the government in consultation with the people and their representatives to formulate relevant regulations, policies and programmes to effectively address the land question,” Justice Ueitele said. President Geingob said that the report will be made public in a few weeks, after he and his Cabinet studied it.
Mining company announces huge uranium discovery
The Australian mining company Marenica Energy announced this month that it made a “significant uranium discovery” in the Erongo Region. It claimed it is the largest uranium deposit since the one found near Husab in the same area in 2008.
Marenica received permission from the Ministry of Mines and Energy in May last year to explore four new areas in Erongo to look for uranium. In its announcement to shareholders on the Australian and the Namibian stock exchanges, Marenica said the ore was discovered in an area which has not yet been explored before.
“In our view, this is potentially the most significant new uranium discovery in Namibia since Extract Resources discovered Husab in 2008, which is expected to be the second largest uranium mine in the world,” the Managing Director of Marenica, Murray Hill said.
To date Namibia has four uranium mines, with Rössing, established in the 1970s, still active. The one at Trekkopje and another near the Langer Heinrich Mountains have been put on care and maintenance due to low uranium prices. The Husab mine started production four years ago. All uranium mines are situated in the Erongo Region.
5G mobile technology for Namibia
The 5G (or fifth generation) mobile technology might soon be available in Namibia. While the municipality of Windhoek has rushed ahead to obtain a 5G license from the communications regulatory authority to make commercial use of its own fibre optic cable network, the government conducts a study. At the end of July, Cabinet tasked the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism to conduct a strategic environmental assessment of
the introduction of 5G technology in Namibia. It also decided that the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) be asked, through the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to accelerate the development of a 5G strategy for Namibia. Both reports will be submitted to Cabinet for consideration. Information Minister Peya Mushelenga, who made this announcement, said the proposed environmental assessment should be conducted before the possible introduction of 5G technology. However, CRAN already granted the Windhoek Municipality a licence a few days before the Cabinet decisions were announced.
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