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Focus on Namibia: The Vision Which Is Breaking Down Boundaries To Expand Namibia’s Infinite Horizons

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On 21 March 2020, Namibia’s President Hage Gottfried Geingob was sworn in for his second term on the very same day the nation celebrated its 30 years of independence. Present at the celebration, a sure sign of Namibia’s peaceful and stable governance since independence, were the nation’s two prior presidents His Excellencies Dr Sam Nujoma and Dr Hifikepunye Pohamba, as well as the Presidents of Angola, Zimbabwe and Botswana. A grand and worthy augury for the future of continued progress, collaboration, growth and freedom for the nation.

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Indeed, under President Hage Gottfried Geingob’s guidance, Vision 2030, the nation’s long term plan for industrialisation, is taking a very defined shape. Aided by the complementary Harambee Prosperity Plan fast-tracking the nation’s development, Namibia’s fifth National Development Plan  (NDP5) highlights four pillars in order to target growth “In our development plan, we are trying to create an inclusive financial sector,” Hon. Carl-Hermann Gustav ‘Calle’ Schlettwein, Minister of Agriculture explains. An emphasis on education and a focus on SME development has been key to this inclusivity. “We allocate quite a few funds to our training programmes for SMEs,” states Baronice Hans, MD of Bank Windhoek. In recent years, Namibia’s Ministry of Education has highlighted the importance of vocational training. “At Letshego Bank, we are dedicated to improving livelihoods and promoting financial literacy initiatives,” claims Ester Kali, CEO of Letshego Bank. CEO of the Development Bank of Namibia, Martin Inkumbi details the Bank’s dedication in supporting the nation’s youth: “We have introduced a special lending product for targeting youth.”  This, combined with a dedication to improving ease of doing business has been crucial to growing Namibia’s industries. “We have very favourable tax laws as well as lots of incentives,” confirms Patty Karuaihe-Martin, CEO of NamibRe. Vetumbuavi Mungunda, CEO of Standard Bank concurs, “Namibia has the key pillars of stability that are imperative for any business. There is political stability, social stability, a strong rule of law and a good judicial system.”

“We will live with the concept of ‘unity in diversity’ with diverse languages, cultures and religions. We live in harmony and celebrate each other with love. We welcome people from other countries with respect and care that is our valuable tradition as Namibians.”

President Hage Gottfried Geingob’s inauguration speech, March 2020

Namibia is also extremely well established within the global economy with excellent market access from an export point of view. It is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs Union and has preferential trade agreements with SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and East African Community (EAC). With  borders on Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, the role of transport and logistics in Namibia has also been key to its economic development. Strategically located half way down Namibia’s coast, Port Walvis Bay, Namibia’s largest commercial world-class deep-water port, provides the SADC region with the quickest and shortest route to Europe and North and South America and a gateway for export and import of goods by neighbouring countries. “The government has invested quite a lot of money to extend and put a container terminal in Walvis Bay so that this hub can handle more containers and enhance trade,” reveals Hon. John Mutorwa, Minister of Works and Transport.

Awarded top position for the best roads in Africa by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for several consecutive years, Namibia’s road network has also been key in its contribution to the economic growth of other SADC countries. “We have about 47,000 km of road network of which 9,000 is bitumen road. In addition to that, we have four transport corridors, which are mostly serving our neighbouring countries and, by implication, the rest of Africa,” confirms Conrad Lutombi, CEO of Roads Authority of Namibia.  Namibia’s ICT instrastructure, ranked one of Africa’s best, provides a different sort of connectivity to neighbouring countries.  “Telecom Namibia also provides data connectivity to neighbouring countries via the SAT3 and WACS submarine cables,” explains Armando Perny, Acting CEO of Telecom Namibia.

As part of Vision 2030, Namibia is also determined to promote its Blue Economy Strategy 2017-2022 which addresses the development of marine mining, tourism, port infrastructure and services in an ecologically sustainable manner. . “We have a very long coastline and a very large maritime area which has a lot of potential,” states Immanuel Mulunga, MD of NAMCOR. Currently, Namibia’s fisheries contributes to about 15 % of total exports and is the country’s second biggest export earner, after mining and the third largest contributor to GDP. Namibia is also world leader in recovering diamonds from the sea. “Namibia has been a diamond mining economy for a long time,” elaborates  Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy . “We are currently exploring the sea through the development of unique technology.” Indeed, in May 2019 Namibia pioneered a distinctive form of marine diamond recovery which is also highly environmentally sustainable.

Namibia has a long history in mining and is replete with several minerals. “Namibia is a big country with a low population and lots of natural resources. Name it and we have it: minerals, fisheries, tourism, natural resources,” concludes Reinhard Gärtner, CEO of Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).Today, due to first-class infrastructure and the ease of doing business, it is the nation’s best performing economic sector through the production of diamonds, uranium, copper, magnesium, zinc, silver, gold, lead, semi-precious stones and has the potential to lead the way towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “The great potential the country has as far as mining and mineral resources are concerned is evident,” claims Mark Dawe, Country Manager of B2Gold Namibia. “Everything is about re-establishing a natural environment.” 

Farming also supplies nearly two-thirds of the population with an income, undeniably highlighting the importance of agriculture for Namibia’s economy. Ian Collard, CEO of Namib Mills states: “Namibia is currently a net importer, so we grow our business based on import substitution.” In February 2020, Namibia became the first African country to export red meat to the United States with state-owned Meatco’s shipment to Philadelphia of 25 tonnes of beef. “We penetrate the most advanced markets, like the US and China because we have made serious investments in our infrastructure,” declares Mwilima Mushokabanji, CEO of MeatCo.

Namibia’s horizons are limitless and today provide nation and continent with the opportunity for expansion as its policies and strategies work to crack open the nation’s immense capacity for potential and possibility.

Brand Voice

The Secret Formula For Changing Lives In Africa

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When Covid-19 struck, Coca-Cola, which has dominated FORBES’ lists as one of the world’s most valuable brands and innovative companies, deployed its resources and leveraged its distribution networks to make a difference in Africa’s economies and communities. Here’s how they did it.

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Brand Voice

Egypt’s Blueprint For A Better Tomorrow

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Through the AfCFTA and their own Vision 2030 blueprint for economic enhancement, Egypt is preparing to emerge as a world leader in the global economy.

“We have a lot of determination and we own a lot of capabilities and natural resources that can put us in the lead in the world.”

H.E. Abdel Fattah President al-Sisi

            As Egypt embraces the initiatives behind the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) and H.E. Abdel Fattah President al-Sisi ‘s Vision 2030, the country is on track to completely revitalise its economic landscape. Vision 2030, Egypt’s blueprint for transforming the economy into a global powerhouse, is focused on specific pillars that are aimed at empowering sectors and enhancing the country’s potential through youth development, technology, ICT, urban development, industry and infrastructure. On Egypt’s efforts to become an economic world leader and its commitment to the AfCFTA agreement, H.E. President al-Sisi said, “We have a lot of determination and we own a lot of capabilities and natural resources that can put us in the lead in the world.” Vision 2030 seeks to take advantage of Egypt’s natural resources and its key geographical location in Africa to remove barriers to intra-African trade and increase the investments across the continent. Adherence to the agenda will improve connectivity to link the continent by rail, road, sea and air and will boost trade, spark growth and create jobs.

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In order to realise these goals, Egypt must first prepare its most valuable asset: its people. Egypt has a growing young population, where about 62% of the population is under age 29. This creates near limitless opportunities as the country strives to penetrate new markets and develop its “Made in Egypt” brand. Not only that, but Egyptian youth are also unique in their worldview. The post-revolution generations in Egypt are empowered with visions to change the future of their country, and companies are meeting this passion with training opportunities and education. Mohamed Shalbaya, CEO of PepsiCo, says, “The DNA of Egyptians, especially after the revolution, is ‘I want to achieve something’. Once you give them the right education, the right training, they excel. In the past two, three years, we have had 33,000 training hours for employees, and that gives us the edge because once they train, they can excel. Generation Z wants to be entrepreneurs, and we help them with that.”

In addition to training, many initiatives to nurture ideas and invest in talent are in place, such as innovation centres and incubators for entrepreneurial growth. Hala El Gohary, CEO of ITIDA, says, “In 2013, ITIDA established TIEC: the Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre. Its main mandate is to develop the entrepreneurship ecosystem by developing talent from the universities, giving them the basic education around how to create their own companies and to develop business plans.” Technology centres exploit the youth’s propensity for technology, creating opportunities to innovate business and penetrate new markets via the internet.

The TIEC also houses an incubator and an accelerator to help establish start-ups in the country. Gohary continues, “President al-Sisi launched a programme for capacity development for 10,000 African youth and 100 start-ups. ITIDA has been mandated to deliver this initiative. Last year, we worked with about 3,000 youth out of Africa and Egypt and we delivered 30 start-ups. The idea is to have these 3,000 make their own company, and some of them did. In the first year, we helped the most prominent start-ups showcase their products.” With a driven and dedicated youth that are ready to become entrepreneurs, Egypt’s future is in good hands.

Technology development and the ICT sector not only appeal to the capabilities of Egypt’s youth but have also proved to be invaluable in the country’s human capital development endeavour. Egypt has been working diligently toward innovation and digital infrastructure for the benefit of all. H.E. Amr Talaat, Minister of ICT, says, “What is driving the telecom growth are internet penetration, more fixed broadband and more households with a computer. As for the IT sector, that’s a transformation on which Egypt is embarking impressively.” H.E. Talaat continues, “We need to create an ecosystem that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. We are inviting start-ups into ideation camps, matchmaking forums, creating innovation hubs across the campuses of universities so that students can form teams, aggregate their solutions and focus on specific goals.” A strong digital infrastructure opens many opportunities and plays an innovative role in the overall wellbeing of the African continent.

In terms of urban development and infrastructure enhancement, the Central Bank has launched an EGP 50 billion programme to aid real estate developers to finance housing units for middle-income families. As the sector influences other industries, supporting real estate development and the local industry is one of the government’s priorities. For the 2020/2021 fiscal year, Egyptian government investment expenditures have been increased from EGP 150 billion to EGP 230 billion to expand various development and service projects nationwide. The New Urban Communities Authority fiscal budget has also been increased, amplifying construction company expansion.

The goals of the AfCFTA and Egypt’s Vision 2030 is to empower African industries, accelerate intra-African trade via a continental geographic zone in order to boost the continent’s position in the global market. Overall, the initiatives seek to strengthen the common African voice in global trade negotiations, a position that is long overdue. The Minister of Industry and Trade, H.E. Naveen Gamea, says, “The AfCFTA is a big step towards the economic integration through the actual liberalisation of trade, as it achieves major strides in the rates of economic development, and regional and continental integration through the productive and commercial integration based on competitive edges and building value-added chains across the continent. Egypt is keen to achieve tangible results in the fields that can lead to the regional economic integration and development, connecting civilisations and cultures of the African countries and deepening the cooperation with the international partners, as well.”

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Has the pandemic impacted behaviour?

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By Tshepiso Malele

Just like in many other parts of the world, the advent of the Coronavirus in South Africa has left government with no choice but to impose various levels of lockdown that came with unprecedented levels of restrictions on citizen movement and business activity. While the restrictions were broadly accepted during the early stages of lockdown – at the strictest level 5 – many South Africans began to scrutinise and question the relevance of some of them as the weeks went by, specifically wondering in what ways they would help flatten the growth curve of the Coronavirus or prevent infections and unnecessary loss of life.

As the weeks went by, we also witnessed some known and unknown groupings in the NGO sector, opposition politics, and others with business interests taking to the courts to challenge the legality of some aspects of the lockdown restrictions. In the process, there have been a mixture of firm and short-lived court victories going in all directions, resulting in the overall climate – at least parts of it – becoming somewhat murky.  A lot of the frustration was driven by people realising that the little savings they had – for those who had savings to speak of and were not receiving any income while they stayed at home – were gradually being depleted. While those who were fortunate enough to continue doing paid work from home could do so, many others were either receiving only a portion of their normal pay or, for another group, not receiving any income at all. Those worst affected were the unemployed, the self-employed, and those who worked in small businesses that could not sustain them during a time when no revenue was being generated by the business.

So, to the health crisis that was brought about by the Coronavirus, an economic crisis was gradually building-up, affecting the livelihoods of many South Africans and, even dangerously, threatening harm to an already challenged social harmony in the country.

But ubuntu never died

It is often said that the character of people is best tested in times of crisis. This has been true for many South Africans over the years and during the past 5 months or so of COVID-19. Known to be generous by nature, and easily taking the side of the weak party in any conflict situation, many South Africans rose to the occasion and – driven by the spirit of ubuntu – started initiatives that enabled them to play their part by taking care of the weakest in our society. In no time, many feeding schemes were established by individuals, neighbourhoods, small and big companies, NGOs and others, to prepare and distribute warm food and clothing to people living in the streets and to indigent neighbours and poor people in communities on the other side of town from where they lived. Others offered to use their motor cars and cycles to deliver medical supplies for the elderly and people living alone with various forms of disabilities in their respective neighbourhoods and elsewhere.  

To outsiders, the seeming contradiction in the conduct of South Africans would be baffling. On the one hand, they stood up and demanded that government speak with more clarity when it explained the rationale for the various lockdown restrictions while, on the other hand, they never forgot that we’re all in it together when they played their part to ensure that as few South Africa as possible, if any, where left behind during this testing period of an unprecedented health and economic crisis.

The road we must travel together

It is known that South Africans have fought long and hard, over many decades, for the freedoms they enjoy, freedoms that are now firmly enshrined in the country’s Constitution and Bill of Rights. They will not easily let anyone, including their government, take these freedoms away. And government knows that. But they have also shown that when government takes steps to protect lives – even when such steps seem harsh and hard to abide by – South Africans will stand behind it and play their part, even if doing so takes having to police one another and calling out those who step out of line to endanger the lives of others. But for the above to happen, government has also learned that it must trust South Africans and reaffirm its commitment to the social contract. It must always openly and consistently share information with them in the same way that it did at the onset of the Coronavirus. 

From Level 3 to Level 3 bis

The lifting and easing of many of the COVID-19 restrictions at the onset of level 3 lockdown, at the beginning of July 2020, unleashed a lot of excitement around the country. It did not help that restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages were lifted at the same time in their entirety, with government having trusted that all citizens would continue to play their part, having heeded warnings by the authorities and health professionals against alcohol abuse.

Soon, people began forming long queues outside liquor stores around the country to purchase alcohol. Pictures and videos of drunk, careless, revellers made it onto social media platforms to the dismay of many others. It did not take long before reports of increased numbers of car accidents, injuries, and incidents of gender-based violence made the news headlines and, as feared, the rising numbers of injured people needing hospitalisation began to compete for much needed hospital beds with the rising numbers of COVID-19 casualties.  This left government with little choice but to reimpose prohibitions on the sale of alcohol beverages, public consumption of such, as well as an overnight curfew.    

But all is not lost 

There is an opportunity for leaders in politics, religion, traditional affairs, academia, media, business, and other branches of civil society to realise that in order to be won, the battle against COVID-19 can neither be led nor won by government alone. It should never have to be a competition of wills and might pitting any group of South Africans against others, or citizens against government. We have to reignite the nation’s social compact and fighting spirit to positively channel them in a shared drive to curb the spread of the real enemy of our times, the pandemic that is silently making its way within our population taking many lives before their time. We are South African. We have the fighting spirit; we have one another, and we have our spirit of ubuntu. Let us rally these assets to effectively push back and defeat COVID-19 so that we can safely turn our focus to saving our economy. The more time we waste bickering over who is right and who is wrong, the harder it will be to step in in time rescue our ailing economy against certain destruction. 

Malele is the Marketing Manager at Brand South Africa, the official marketing agency of South Africa with a mandate to build the country’s brand reputation and to improve its global competitiveness. 

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