Land Access: A constraint to business growth in Nam

 

Windhoek – Access to land, including land for business purposes, remains a constraint to the development and growth of businesses in Namibia, says Trade and Industry Minister Calle Schlettwein.

Access to land has been singled out as one of major obstacles to investment in Namibia. This is contained in a new research publication by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) entitled “Easing the way for Investment in Namibia”.

With financial assistance from the British High Commission, the IPPR seeks to help reduce obstacles to investment and bring about improved conditions for foreign businesses to invest in Namibia.

In the report, IPPR says there is a need to review existing legislation with the aim to streamline and expedite the process of obtaining serviced and unserviced land.

“Furthermore, the transformation of customary land rights and Permission to Occupy into freehold leases has to be accelerated. The lack of professional land surveyors and town planners compounded by the capacity constraints in local authorities hampers the supply of land,” said the research institute.

Speaking during the launch of the report on June 20, in Windhoek, Minister Schlettwein said access to and the high cost of land remains a constraint to business growth in Namibia.

“A related problem is the time and cost involved in registering property,” he said. Minister Schlettwein said his ministry is making efforts to reduce the burden especially on SMEs and to attract targeted investments in manufacturing.

“The Ministry of Trade and Industry has embarked upon a deliberate measure to acquire land in strategic areas across the country for servicing and development into modular business units for SME operators and factories and industrial parks for manufacturing purposes,” the minister said.

Minister Schlettwein’s sentiment was echoed by Taarah Shaanika, chief executive of Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), who said access to land is more challenging in the agricultural and agribusiness sector.

“If you are looking at something as simple as office space, I have heard of some South African companies that have moved back to South Africa and will fly in and out because it is cheaper than having an office here.

“So, it is things like land costs. And thinking of agribusiness, it is difficult to get access to using land in the northern communal areas where there might be more potential to grow things and process high value products because there is water there. It is difficult to get access to land,” Shaanika was quoted in report as saying.

He added that with regards to land, “I would recommend that we finalise our revamped investment legislation and deliver land faster and cheaply to investors.”

June 2014
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