Another Omaheke investors’ conference – towards what end?

 

An investors’ conference has been on since yesterday in the Omaheke Region. This is exactly seven years after another similar indaba in this region with the hosting in 2009 of what was then termed “an economic conference”.
Make me believe, but I cannot see the difference between the two. To give the benefit of the doubt to those who have organized it, let’s say there may be two differences, as much as the ultimate objective can be one and the same: to induce growth in the economy of the region by enticing investors to invest in selected sectors of the regional economy.

The pertinent question with the ongoing investors’ conference seven years after the first one, albeit referenced an economic conference then, is what happened to the outcomes of the conference of 2009? Not only this, but to what extent could lessons from the 2009 conference inform the current one?

Not only this, but to what extent were and have recommendations from the conference been acted upon and what kind of outcomes have they had for the boosting of the region’s economy?

Because, unless the organisers of the ongoing investors conference can provide answers to these pertinent questions one can have little confidence that the ongoing investors conference may only be for its own intrinsic – if not futile end – only to be followed once the dust has settled on it, a few years after (maybe five or ten years, who knows?) by another conference.

Call it what you will: economic, investors, and next perhaps, business conference. But the bottom line seems to be the inability to finish or implement what has been started.

In this regard the inability to implement conferences outcomes, like the 2009 economic conference in the region, only for another differently titled conference to follow seven years after, raises questions.

The Report of the first-ever Omaheke Regional Economic Conference of 2009 was released in 2010. This was to show that the said conference was more than just a talking shop. And one would have hoped with many a conference that may have preceded it, the Omaheke Economic Conference had the advantage to benchmark itself.

Further the organisers may and must have been aware that many a conference had come and gone without the desired results, especially in terms of following up their outcomes and implementing them.

The report in question noted the importance of “actioning” certain projects and programmes. Notable among these recommendations was a feasibility study regarding the viability of establishing a dairy enterprise in the region.

That must of course have been a welcome move to add value to the foremost prized commodity in the region, livestock. One is very much aware of a delegation from India visiting the Omaheke Region in recent years in this regard. Whether this is a work in progress or not remains to be seen.

In view of the ongoing investors conference one cannot but reiterate that the economic mainstay of the region is livestock production. With this being the case, ironically the marketing of livestock in the region, as in many others, has been a critical if not altogether debilitating problem, especially as far as the majority of the previously marginalised, disadvantaged and still exploited farmers in the communal areas are concerned.

Thus, obviously, this is an issue that must have enjoyed the attention if not occupied a good deal of time of the conference in 2009. To what extent it did shall never be known, but the opportunity is once again knocking for key role players in the region to put this issue high on the agenda of the ongoing investors conference.

While due to climatic change livestock production has suffered in the region, livestock production is still an important economic activity in the region and will likely remain such for the foreseeable future. Thus, marketing needs to enjoy the attention of any indaba intended to encourage investors and investing in the region, thereby boosting economic activity and growth.

But it cannot happen if the marketing livestock and related products continue to be a weak link that it has been in the production chain.

The closest the report of the 2009 economic conference in the Omaheke Region had come to the issue of marketing was with reference to the “prioritisation” of cattle and small stock farming in Omaheke as areas in which it has a competitive advantage.

It is not certain what was meant by that, but needless to say, one cannot talk of prioritising cattle and small stock farming in the Omahereke Region without talking about the never-ending and debilitating problem of marketing.
Needless to say, there is no way one can talk of investment and or economic growth in the Omaheke Region without premising such a talk on the state of farming and the marketing of farming products, in this instance primarily cattle and small livestock.

One particular recommendation of the 2009 conference was of note, for such a conference to have become a yearly event on the annual calendar of the Omaheke Region. Yes, but only as far as such a conference would review the progress that has been made in implementing its recommendations and how far actionable decisions have been actioned, but not as an aim in itself.

The essence of the conference – and there is no denying that indeed it was necessary to give the economy of the region the necessary jumpstart – must have been the necessary push-factor, albeit not sufficient reason.

Push must have been the buzzword since, instead of one conference after the other, year-in and year-out without tangible results. The goal to which all must now strive towards in unison and with vigour is implementation, implementation and nothing but implementation.

Of course, this must be done with the necessary intermittent pause to review whether such implementation of identified projects and programmes is on track and the right track indeed, and effectively and efficiently so! Only this can justify holding one conference after another.

Read full story on New Era Newspaper Namibia

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