Oshikango still alive, but not bustling
Ongwediva – The border town of Oshikango, which was known as a hive of business activity when cross-border trade with Angola was very thriving, continues trading albeit on a vastly reduced scale.
A clearing and forwarding agent at the border town said the rate at which cross-border transactions are done is slow compared to the recent past when business at Oshikango peaked.
A worker at Tangeni Clearance Agency told New Era they are still clearing goods destined for Angola from Namibia and also goods coming into Namibia from Angola, but the volume is negligible compared to previous years.
The agency clears all kinds of goods. Close to their offices is a yard of full of left-hand driven vehicles that include minibuses, pick-ups and ambulances, which seem to have stopped selling. One employee there said nowadays an order for a vehicle only comes from Angola every now and then and they usually help to clear the transaction.
She said the drop in the value of the Angolan kwanza in relation to the Namibia dollar has affected the volume of trade between the two countries. Currently, buyers from Angola are only allowed to come into Namibia with about 1640 Namibia dollars per individual (equivalent to 30 000 kwanza), meaning a buyer from Angola will not be able to buy much.
Presently, currency exchange transactions are only done at banks on the Angolan side, which change the kwanza into Namibia dollars, while Namibian banks do not have a similar exchange facility arrangement. The Bank of Namibia prefers that currency conversion is only done by Angolan banks in Angola.
Groceries retailers at Oshikango New Era spoke to said business is slow, while those who sell building materials said the trade is also very slow to the extent that one can easily count the number of clients that come in a day.