Investors flock to Namibia
By Magreth Nunuhe
WINDHOEK – PRESIDENT Hage Geingob’s plans of reviving the Namibian economy and making the country a preferred investment destination have started showing results.
Last year the Namibian government organised the Invest in Namibia International Investment Conference, which saw over 1,000 local and international investors attending the two-day investment event. The conference was held under the theme ‘Promoting Investment for Inclusive Growth and Industrialisation’.
At the closing of the conference, President Geingob noted that its success was a sign that the southern African nation has a story to tell and that government’s decision to promote the country as an investment haven has paid off.
Deals worth tens of billions of dollars in mining, construction, infrastructure development, housing, transport and logistics, farming, fishing, steel production and power generation have been sealed or are in the process of being concluded.
Since the country hosted the conference last November to reignite foreign direct investment, international corporations have not only shown great interest in the country, but also got the ball rolling.
One of the biggest of such projects is the R3.6 billion public private partnership (PPP) investment project signed between a South Korean company, MK International, Otavi Rebar Manufacturing (ORM) and the Otavi Town Council.
The joint venture agreement will see a steel manufacturing plant set up at the northern town of Otavi to be known as Namibia Steel Manufacturing.
The plant will be strategically located on the SADC Walvis Bay Corridor Network in Otavi and product range will include rebars and steel products in a variety of profiles, according to Elijah Mukubonda, chief corporate communications officer at the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.
He said that this would allow Namibia to reduce its dependence on imported construction material as the initial production capacity of the plant would be 580,000 tonnes per annum.
More than 800 skilled and 700 semi-skilled jobs are expected to be created.
“MK International is to provide 51 percent of the project funding while the remainder will be provided by ORM. The ground-breaking (ceremony) is expected to take off around June/July 2017,” he added.
In the housing sector, a German-based company, Polycare Research and Development Gmbh, has signed a deal with the Municipality of Okahandja to develop an innovative, low-cost, strong, durable and environmentally friendly building system, which produces lego-like building blocks that are made out of desert sand and polyester resin.
The reusable bricks are four times stronger than conventional concrete ones and can be used in the construction of simple structures like houses to more complex building like medical centres.
“Polycare intends to set up a production facility in six to eight months in the town of Okahandja (north of Namibia’s capital Windhoek), which will utilise Namibian desert sand and supply Polycare building blocks to Namibia and the region,” Mukubonda disclosed.
The Polycare Research and Development Gmbh, together with Kavango Building Brick and other Namibian and international public private stakeholders will also partner to address quality affordable houses in Namibia and neighbouring countries.
“Through this facility, Polycare will be able to assist Namibia to tackle the housing shortage and create local jobs,” he added, saying that the City of Windhoek was also exploring the possibility of working with Polycare to construct low-cost housing in the capital.
The construction of a Harambee Valley housing project is also on the cards. Two international companies, Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation from South Korea and Ethiopian DH Geda G.I., have expressed interest in the project with housing parastatal, National Housing Enterprise, and its partner Ongos Monte Christo City Development.
Namibia Port Authority (Namport) and MK International Incorporated are planning to set up a liquefied petroleum gas facility at the North Port in Walvis Bay to supply southern Africa and the west coast of Africa with liquefied petroleum gas.
A German-based company called Aquaponic has already secured land in the Erongo Region where a commercial aquaponics farm that would grow horticultural produce for the domestic and export markets would be developed. Production is expected to commence towards the end of 2017, according to Mukubonda.
Aquaponic farms combine conventional aquaculture with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.
Another German-based company, Bioceval, a leading manufacturer of high quality fish meal and fish oil is interested in setting up a production facility with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year in Namibia.
“Bioceval’s products are used in human and animal foodstuffs, agriculture, aquaculture and industrial applications and its customers include companies such as Nestle, Royal Canin and Mars. The new factory in Namibia would exclusively use fish by-products like trimmings and scraps to produce fish meal for domestic and international markets,” according to Mukubonda.
The Commercial Cattle Feedlot project is engaged in talks with USA-based companies, Africa Holdings and Pergasus, to develop a feedlot project.
With regards to power generation, the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor) has accepted an investment offer on the upstream from BW Kudu Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of BW Offshore Singapore Pty. Ltd) for a 56 percent working interest in the offshore Kudu gas field.
“BW Offshore is a joint Norwegian/Singaporean owned company, which is one of the world’s leading suppliers and operators of offshore floating production systems with extensive experience in the development of offshore fields,” said Mukubonda.
On the downstream, NamPower and its partners are working to achieve a financial clause which is expected to be finalised towards the end of 2017.
“The project is yet to finalise the remaining 20 percent of the Gas Supply Agreement negotiations, seek for additional equity investors and finalise off take agreements with Copperbelt Energy Corporation of Zambia, Eskom of South Africa amongst others,” he added.
Kudu Gas to Power 885 megawatt project is a key strategic power generation project for Namibia, which will decrease reliance on imported power.
It is involves the development of the offshore Kudu Gas field to deliver gas through a 170 km long pipeline to a power station to be built at Uubvlei, 25 kilometres northeast of Oranjemund in the south of Namibia. The station will be connected to the Namibian and South African electricity grids by new transmission lines.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy has also secured a R120-million deal with Spain-based AEE Power to set up a 5 MW Solar Power Plant at Rosh Pinah in the south.
“The Ministry of Mines and Energy held a ground-breaking event on 31 January 2017 in Rosh Pinah, which marks the official beginning of construction of the project,” said Mukubonda.
He said the construction is expected to take four months, and the project is expected to create 60 jobs.
Furthermore, InnoSun, a local company is in discussions with Finland-based Taaleri for the financing of its project portfolio, which includes the existing two solar parks, Omburu and Osona, as well as a possible stake in the 500MW wind farm.
The Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation is in talks with USA-based Twist LLC and A1 Logistics to establish a vocational technical school in Kavango East and West regions and a delegation is expected to visit Namibia this year.
Transport and Logistics
In the transport sector, Germany-based SIVAG and Mitfreundlichen Gruessen, Engen Namibia, Heritage Contractors Pty Ltd (Botswana) and Bank BIC Namibia are in the process of setting up a plant to manufacture bitumen products.
A commuter rail service between Windhoek Central and suburbs is also mooted and a South Korean company, Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation, has expressed interest in the project.
Namport is currently collaborating with the Sub-Saharan Africa Chamber of Commerce to host a three-day Namport Trade and Investment Forum in May 2017 to promote Walvis Bay and the Namibian transport corridors as alternatives to historically preferred ports and routes currently used by US traders and shipping lines into Southern Africa, according to Mukubonda.
Business to Business Meetings
“About 240 business to business meetings were held concurrently during the conference to afford potential investors an opportunity to interact directly with the senior government officials and captains of industry to discuss possible investment opportunities during the conference,” Mukubonda said.
As a result, the Namibia Investment Centre, Namibia’s official investment promotion and facilitation agency, has signed an agreement with the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) to establish the Turkey-Namibia Business Council.
The purpose of the Turkey-Namibia Business Council is to promote trade and cross-border investment between the two countries, contribute to the industrial and technological collaboration between Namibian and Turkish companies and institutions, and facilitate participation in trade fairs and exhibitions.