Namibia: Economic Summit No Talkshow – !gawaxab
By Nghinomenwa Erastus
The planned economic summit will not be a talkshow, but a link-up between potential investors for specific bankable projects which will be presented at the event, says Johannes !Gawaxab.
!Gawaxab, the chairman of the high-level panel on the Namibian economy, said this during a sponsorship handover event in Windhoek yesterday.
He was explaining how the summit is going to ensure that the invited investors practically invest money in the country, and not just attend the summit and leave without fruits.
The private sector-led summit structured the summit’s agenda in such a way that tangible investments happen after the summit, and that potential investors are locked in on various projects which will be presented.
!Gawaxab stated that the summit will also see the pitching of projects to investors, allow them to explore what is viable in Namibia, and save investors the time of doing research in commercially viable projects to invest in.
“We are going to showcase certain specific projects in housing, water, electricity and agriculture,” he revealed.
The team will thus break down every sector from housing to electricity, and choose bankable projects to lure investors.
“We are going to do the summit differently by having different breakaway sessions on specific sectors, and we will present four to five projects in that sector which we believe are commercially viable to invest in. We are going to target certain investors who have a history of investing in certain sectors/projects, locally, regionally and internationally so that they come and listen to our pitch,” Gawaxab explained.
Using as reference the mass housing projects, he said it was one of the great ideas, but nobody thought of its commercial viability, and who was going to fund it.
Since the private sector will now be involved in bringing in investrors, it would be different, and every investment from the summit will see the light of day because once the private sector is involved, they ensure that they are rewarded for their investments.
!Gawaxab added that one of the projects they will sell to investors will be the Ongos Valley housing project, which plan to build 4 500 low-cost housing units in five years.
Since the project already managed to source around N$2 billion of the needed N$4,3 billion, they will present it to the invited investors so as to get the remaining N$2,3 billion.
!Gawaxab also touched on the mass investment on infrastructure going on in the country, such as the airport upgrade, and railway and road construction projects, with some experts saying most of these projects are creating temporary employment, and are not generating an income to ensure sustainability.
“We need that infrastructure to stimulate economic activities; you need infrastructure as a catalyst for economic growth,” he emphasised.
He likewise confirmed that the country has invested in the less productive side of the economy, and projects that are non-income-generating which contribute to slow growth.
“We have invested heavily in the non-productive side of the economy. This is because we are a new nation, and we needed to create those institutions,” he elaborated.
Gawaxab, however, called on the private sector to start investing in those projects which will generate income for the country as a whole and ensure sustainability.
“We now have to make sure that we attract and invest in income-generating projects. If that happens, the economy will grow and be sustainable. We pay Eskom more than N$2 billion a year. If you set up your own infrastructure in electricity, that will be sustainable because the N$2 billion you use to pay out will be spent locally,” he explained.
!Gawaxab added that so much is expected from them to ensure investments (N$1 billion in 2 years/U$500 million a year) happens after the summit, but it will still be partially dependent on the institutions and laws in place that will enable investment.
He noted that there should be policy certainty, peace and stability for the targeted investments to be reached and growth to be realised.
However, if the environment is conducive, the summit will link up potential investors with specific viable projects, and investment will happen as envisaged.
“It’s not only going to be a talkshow; you will see people with money, not only the fly-by-nights, but reputable investors. The projects to be invested in are Namibian, but in terms of investors, we invited everyone,” he stressed.
Gernot de Klerk, Nedbank Namibia’s head of marketing, said as one of the company’s footing the bill of the summit, they are optimistic of the summit’s results as a collective effort.
“Summits of this nature are always important, as it helps us to focus our energy towards a common goal. We all got to harness our collective wisdom and effort for us to get the economy to improve,” De Klerk added.
O&L group of companies’ chief executive officer, Wessie van der Westhuizen, said it will take both the private sector and the government’s efforts for the economy to grow.
He said although it will be too difficult to assess if the summit will bring about the promised investments, it will create the necessary momentum to bring about changes in the economy.
“I think it will be the silver bullet, and start the momentum to positively want changes and collectively contribute towards improving the economy,” he stated.
The summit is projected to cost N$3,5 million, and so far has managed to raise N$1,71 million from eight companies.
With the commercial banks contributing N$700 000, Namdia gave N$500 000, the O&L Group added N$300 00 and Agribank contributed N$100 000.
The Namibia Agriculture Union, Namcor, the Namibia Charcoal Association and the Namibian Agronomic Board all came on board with amounts ranging from N$20 000 to N$50 000.
The organising committee calls on all sectors to come on board, and make the summit a reality. They gave the assurance that all the money collected will not be deposited into any account, but will be paid directly to companies which are going to cater for the summit.