Namibian Economics To The Point – August 2019

31 Aug 2019

Brigitte Weidlich

The winter month of August was unusually mild and also provided long spells of hot east wind weather for the coastal areas, including sand storms.

The two-day national economic growth summit in Windhoek ended on 1 August with some N$20 billion worth of projects committed. The Namibian Ports Authority (NamPort) has started operations at its brand new container terminal in Walvis Bay this month, moving all containers to the terminal. President Hage Geingob inaugurated the terminal on 2 August.

Since the start of August, some 420 tons of manganese ore from South Africa were railed to the port of Lüderitz for export, which will be continue for some time.

Germany’s Minister for economic cooperation, Gerd Müller, arrived end of August in Namibia for an official visit.

The state-owned electricity utility, NamPower plans to construct a 40-megawatt biomass power station near Tsumeb. It will be fired by wood chips derived from encroacher bush species. The second annual bio mass expo on a farm near Otjiwarongo drew a lot of interest. Charcoal production and converting harvested encroacher bush into animal fodder for livestock were the main topics. A German company, DHG announced it would increase its imports from 18,000 tons of charcoal to 45,000 tons from Namibia annually. It is expected that Namibia will produce some 200,000 tons of charcoal this year as farmers increase production due to the prevailing drought.

A new hotel opened its doors at Walvis Bay.

The Namibian government has officially introduced an environmental levy on plastic bags in the retail sector, starting on 2 August. For larger plastic

bags, the levy is 50 Namibian cents and smaller bags fetch a levy of 25 Namibian cents. The country’s central bank has for the first time in nearly two years dropped its repo rate - from 6.75 to 6.50 percent. Commercial banks followed suit and lowered their lending rates by 0.25 percent. Namibia’s inflation dropped to 3.6 percent in July (June: 3.9%) according to the national statistics authority.

News from the ports and the transport sector

The long drawn out rehabilitation of the southern railway line between Aus and Lüderitz is completed. Freight trains started to use it again after more than twenty years. Since the start of August, some 420 tons of manganese ore from South Africa’s Northern Cape are railed from the Ariamsvlei border post via Keetmanshoop and Aus to Lüderitz. There it is stored and loaded on to ships for export to mainly Asia. This long-term rail freight and shipping contract of about 420 tons manganese monthly, is a positive economic push for the state-owned transport company TransNamib and for NamPort. “TransNamib has employed 150 new staff for the manganese rail transports”, the company announced.

Another economic boost for the coast is a new hotel, which opened its doors at Walvis Bay. Some N$25 million was invested in the Blue Whale Boutique Hotel with 19 rooms catering for the upper tourism and business segment.

In addition, investment projects totalling N$20 billion (about 1.17 billion Euros) billion was confirmed during the two-day national economic growth summit, which ended on 2 August. Prominent Namibian business people, together with senior government officials, will undertake road shows to the USA, Great Britain and Germany in September to present Namibia as an excellent investment destination.

Germany’s Minister for Economic Cooperation visits Namibia

Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller visited Namibia from 29 August for four days. Müller held talks with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein. Müller visited programmes supported within the framework of the German development cooperation in Katutura aimed at improving the living conditions in the informal settlements. He travelled to northern Namibia and visited a training farm for climate adaptation strategies in agriculture in Mashare. Minister Müller then proceeded with Namibia’s Minister for Environment and Tourism (MET), Pohamba Shifeta to the Bwabwata National Park. They opened the newly equipped ‘Buffalo’ park station in the park, funded with German support. Müller continued to Katima Mulilo and met with representatives from conservancies, the MET and non-governmental organisations. Lastly, Müller viewed the port of Walvis Bay and updated himself on a research project on the Benguela Current, supported by the German Ministry for Environment. Müller then departed for South Africa.

Energy and fodder from biomass

The power utility NamPower has informed interested stakeholders about its plans to invest in a 40-megawatt biomass power plant near Tsumeb. It will run for 25 years wind will require 200,000 tons of wood chips from encroacher bush species. The biomass will be harvested from nearby farms. The new power plant is envisaged to be operational by 2023. Meanwhile it has been established that certain encroacher bush species can be used as fodder for cattle, once the freshly harvested bush chips are mixed with molasses and an few other ingredients. Efforts are undertaken to commercialise this new fodder production, which is cheaper than lucerne.

In another development, the small town of Uis in northwestern Namibia has seen a revival of its economy with the first tin produced there after thirty years. The mining company AfriTin [correct spelling] announced it completed the first production cycle for export to Thailand this month via the port of Walvis Bay.

State company to supply Chinese uranium mine

The state-owned Namibia Petroleum Corporation (NamCor), which plans to compete in the commercial fuel supply sector with own filling stations, has won a lucrative supply contract with CGN Swakop Uranium in the Erongo Region. NamCor will supply the company with fuel and lubricants for the next five years. The contract is worth N$3.2 billion (about 190 million Euros). CGN Swakop Uranium is ninety percent owned by a Chinese state company and runs the new Husab Mine, which will reach full capacity of 5,000 tons uranium oxide (yellow cake) by year-end. The previous five-year fuel supply contract ended recently and the supplier was the commercial company Engen. The Namibian government has a ten percent stake in CGN Swakop Uranium through its state-owned company Epangelo Mining

Chinese astronauts visit Namibia

Two visiting Chinese astronauts paid a courtesy visit to President Hage Geingob at State House end of August a few days before he flew to Japan to attend the Japanese summit with African countries. The Chinese Astronauts Liu Yang and Chen Dong visited Namibia to create awareness and promote space science and technology in the country. Yang is the first female Chinese astronaut in space, while her colleague Dong holds the record for the longest stay in space by a Chinese astronaut.

Their visit is informed by the renewed cooperation agreement on the tracking telemetric and command station between Namibia and China. The Asian country has a small space tracking station outside Swakopmund to track its satellites and space travels from there. The agreement was signed in the year 2000 and was renewed in 2018. Under the new agreement Namibia will construct a similar station in Windhoek with Chinese support and Namibian scientists and students will receive training.

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