30 Oct 2020
The change from winter to summer was quite sudden in October with a long spell of high temperatures that was slightly eased by a several rain showers during the last week of the month.
The Namibian government announced the removal of some Covid-19 restrictions applicable from 22 October. Tourists and business people entering Namibia no longer need to undergo a Covid-19 test on the fifth day of their stay. Namibians returning home no longer need to stay in quarantine. All persons entering Namibia must produce a negative Covid-19 test, which must be less than 72 hours old. The government also opened three border posts – Ariamsvley, Noordoewer and Katima Mulilo – for travellers by road. Germany has removed Namibia from its list of risky countries with regards to Covid-19.
Namibia’s state-owned Agricultural Bank has introduced a loan scheme, which is specifically tailored for women and youth to empower them and to stimulate more agricultural production and job creation. Loan applicants should be between 18 and 35 years and preference will be given for climate-resilient projects, agro-processing, poultry and intensive farming projects.
Diamond production dropped by 43% between July and September this year– the lowest quarterly production in the last seven years, according to diamond company De Beers, which mines diamonds in Namibia through two subsidiaries, Namdeb and De Beers Marine. The Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in Namibia also had an influence on this sector. Only 242,000 carats were mined, some 80,000 carats less than during the same period in 2019. With the Covid-19 restrictions eased, it is expected that diamond production will increase again.
Finance Minister Ipumbu Shiimi tabled an amendment to the government’s expenditure law to redistribute money saved in the first six months of the current financial year to those ministries, which required more funding like health, transport and education. The Bank of Namibia has retained its repo rate unchanged at 3.75.
Inflation stood at 2.4 percent end of September, (August: 2.9%) the national statistics agency reported.
Osmosis plant improves water quality at Grünau
The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development Calle Schlettwein inaugurated a pilot osmosis plant in the tiny village of Grünau in southern Namibia this month. It produces potable water for the approximately 800 residents. According to the state-owned water facility NamWater, construction costs came to about N$14 million (about 690,000 Euros). The system can take in 47.3 cubic meters of brackish underground water per day and produce 36 cubic meters of drinking water through reverse osmosis.
According to NamWater, that is an 85 percent recovery per cubic meter of brackish water. Over the next few months, NamWater and other experts will examine how reliable this small system isand what lessons can be learnt. The small water osmosis plant receives its power from a small hybrid renewable energy system. The experience gained from Grünau will benefit Bethanien near Keetmanshoop, where construction for a similar plant will start soon. The idea is that other remote communities in Namibia should receive such cost-saving individual solutions by treating the brackish water to produce good quality water through reverse osmosis drinking water projects.
Coastal desalination plant makes progress
The University of Namibia (UNAM) has an engineering campus at the small coastal town of Henties Bay at which a research project was installed some 18 months ago – a seawater desalination plant. This month, UNAM launched a bottling plant to sell the potable water produced by the plant. Namibia’s Founding President Sam Nujoma inaugurated the new development. The UNAM campus in Henties Bay is named after Nujoma. He was also shown the 400 young olive trees planted by students on one hectare of land near Henties Bay. The olive trees receive water from the desalination plant. The first olives are expected to be harvested in two years. Professor Kenneth Matengu said the olives and oil produced from them would be sold. Another hectare of olive trees will be planted at a later stage.
The 92-year old Founding President expressed his delight with the realisation of a vision that began in 1999. “Our vision was driven by the notion that the coastal area, although seemingly empty for some, contains huge potential,” he said. “Today I proudly say that our investment has yielded results.”
Management plans for national parks
The Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Forestry (MEFT) launched park management and tourism development plans for several Namibian national parks. These are the Bwabwata, Mudumu, Nkasa-Rupara and Khaudom national parks, as well as the Popa Falls Game Park. The plans will integrate park management and biodiversity conservation of the specific parks for the next five years. Germany supports the project financially and via its development agency GIZ.
Minister Pohamba Shifeta said the implementation of these plans would be supported by the introduction of a conservation levy as part of park entry fees for all national parks. The head of cooperation at the German embassy in Namibia, Gabriele Geier, said the ministry had done a good job by drafting the plans. A similar plan has also been compiled for the Tsau-ǁKhaeb national park in southern Namibia, which was formerly known as Sperrgebiet Park. Minister Shifeta noted that the plans also present an opportunity for several new tourism concessions in the (above-mentioned) park management plans. “The embassy was able to support these efforts. For more than two decades the embassy has supported Namibia’s park programme with N$930 million (about 48.3 million Euros),” she said.
The MEFT this month also signed an agreement with the National Youth Service (NYS) to give young persons a chance to work as volunteers in the national parks. In this way, they will gain insight into wildlife management and tourism to further work experience and possible career path. Some of the youth will help the MEFT staff to continue with the erection of an electric fence around the Etosha National Park.
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