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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

older | 1 | .... | 1130 | 1131 | (Page 1132) | 1133 | 1134 | .... | 1152 | newer

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    App cleans up Zim's waste-clogged citiesApp cleans up Zim's waste-clogged citiesTap for trash The rubbish bins in Harare are supposed to be emptied once a week, but often sit untouched for up to four weeks - now the private sector is sweeping in with a new tech solution. That we are not sick is a wonder when we are always surrounded by mounts of waste. - Euphrasia Mangwe, Resident: Harare Tonderayi Mukeredzi - The stench of decaying rubbish fills the air around Euphrasia Mangwe's house in the Zimbabwean capital, attracting hordes of green flies to the two plastic bins in the corner of her garden.

    It is an irritation the 35-year-old mother of four has become accustomed to. The rubbish bins in her neighbourhood in Harare are supposed to be emptied once a week, but often they sit untouched for up to four weeks at a time.

    So, Mangwe does what many other residents do. She waits until dark and then tosses her rubbish into an open space near her home.

    "It is horrible having to live near garbage. That we are not sick is a wonder when we are always surrounded by mounts of waste," she explained. "Waste collection is a basic right, the same as water. But not here."

    Constrained by a lack of fuel and funding amid the country's worst economic crisis in a decade, the government is struggling to keep its cities clean.

    In Harare it manages to pick up only two-thirds of the 30 000 tonnes of garbage residents produce each month, Harare City Council (HCC) spokesman Michael Chideme told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Private sweeping

    So, the private sector is sweeping in to help with a new mobile-based solution.

    The digital service from local waste management company Clean City Africa works through a popular ride-hailing app to connect households and workplaces with private waste collection firms.

    To use the on-demand, "Uber-type" service, which launched in July, a customer schedules and pays for garbage collections through the Vaya Africa app, explained Clean City Africa CEO Lovemore Nyatsine.

    Then one of the company's more than 200 franchisees picks up the customer's waste from their doorstep and takes it to one of the city's landfill sites - instead of customers having to do it themselves or filling in an online form.

    Cholera

    While Chideme at the HCC said the city's waste collection shortfall has been ongoing since early 2018, many residents complained they have not had regular rubbish collections for at least the past five years.

    Nyatsine said he first became aware of how acute the problem was during a cholera outbreak last year in Harare's highly-populated suburbs of Glen View and Budiriro which left at least 50 people dead, according to the World Health Organization.

    Officials said that the outbreak had been caused by burst sewer pipes that contaminated the city's drinking water. The waste piling up around the city was exacerbating the health crisis, Nyatsine explained.

    He was part of a team sent by telecoms giant Econet Wireless Zimbabwe to join other volunteers in trying to curb the outbreak by sweeping the streets, cleaning drains and picking up rubbish.

    Capacity

    But once they were finished cleaning an area, it became clear that the council did not have the capacity to dispose of all the garbage they had collected.

    "We realised it was not just a problem of the cholera-afflicted suburbs, but city wide," Nyatsine said.

    In response, Econet subsidiary Cassava Smartech created Clean City Africa.

    Working with local authorities and its franchises, the company can now cover more than 500 000 households in Harare and its suburbs, Nyatsine noted, and has plans to roll the service out to other cities in Zimbabwe by the end of the year.

    More than 50 illegal dump sites have been shut down across Harare since the company launched, he added.

    Ease the pressure

    Kudakwashe Ncube, a resident of the suburb of Cranborne, said there has been a marked improvement in waste collection since the Clean City Africa initiative started.

    He and his neighbours had tried other private waste management companies, he added, but they never seemed to have enough trucks to cope with Harare's mounting waste problem.

    "Some residents were looking for alternatives such as dumping in common areas ... others were burning their litter in their yards, again polluting the environment."

    As for the local authorities, Harare city councillor Norman Makondo said they welcomed any help they could get from private waste collection companies, adding that they eased the pressure on the government.

    "I'm happy to see companies like Clean City Africa come in, because they have the capacity to clean and collect garbage in [a] short period," Makondo said in a phone interview.

    "We could not keep up with collecting garbage."

    When announcing this year's budget in December 2018, HCC spokesman Chideme told reporters the council would increase the amount it spends on water and sanitation, which includes investing in more rubbish trucks.

    ‘Not sustainable’

    After collecting rubbish for free for the first few months of its operations, Clean City Africa now charges up to 28.50 Zimbabwe dollars (US$0.08) per collection.

    But Precious Shumba, head of the Harare Residents' Trust, said that while he applauds the work the company is doing, he worries its service is "elitist", granting regular waste collection only to people who can pay for it.

    And many who cannot afford to pay for waste collection are signing up for private services and sacrificing other essentials because they feel they have no other option, he added.

    "Many residents have enlisted for the service, but it does not mean they want it - they are simply desperate," Shumba told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "It is not sustainable."

    For Gamuchirai Beta, a resident of Mbare suburb, Clean City Africa's success in cleaning up the city only highlights the local government's inability to keep up.

    The solution, she said, is for Harare council to wash its hands of waste collection and give the job over to the private sector.

    "The [council] should privatise garbage collection," she said.

    "Their 'once in a blue moon' service is contributing immensely to the pollution of the city."– Nampa/Reuters

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    Late summer rains on the cardsLate summer rains on the cards A weather expert has warned that the prospects for rain in the first half of summer look bleak but are expected to improve later in the season.

    In his latest weather outlook, climatologist Johan van den Berg of Santam South Africa says it is likely that very little rain will occur for the next few months, with a possible late start of the rainy season.

    “Significant rain is not expected before the middle of November for the central to northern parts of Namibia and even later for the southern parts,” he says.

    Van den Berg notes that the development of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) could have a negative effect on the probability of rain in spring and early summer.

    Overall, however, Van den Berg forecasts that neutral conditions of the El Niño Southern Oscillation are more likely to occur for most of the summer season.

    “This can have positive effects for the summer rainfall area for mid- to late summer rainfall.”

    The Indian Ocean Dipole is expected to become more neutral by mid-summer, which could mean improved rainfall conditions. His brief states that intense drought conditions persist in large parts of southern Africa, including Namibia. Van den Berg states that all Niño regions now indicate non-El Niño trends. Most of the forecasts for 2019/20 remain positive that neutral conditions will replace the El Niño conditions.

    Meanwhile, Namibia's dam levels remain worrying.

    The level of the three-dam system supplying Windhoek with water has dropped to 14.9%.The dams supplying Gobabis are only 1.2% full, compared to 5.2% last season.

    In the south, the Hardap Dam stands at 14.7%, compared to last season's 38%.



    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Govt 'will protect the ocean'Govt 'will protect the ocean'Geingob pledges in New York The president has sought to allay fears about the health of Namibia's marine ecosystem because of the prospect of seabed phosphate mining. President Hage Geingob has stressed Namibia's commitment to protecting the ocean and the country's fishing sector.

    This is amidst growing fears in the country that a proposed phosphate project might receive the green light to start with seabed mining near Walvis Bay. Many are of the opinion that phosphate mining would cause irreversible damage to Namibia's fishing industry, which is a pillar of the country's economy.

    Geingob, who was speaking at the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy in New York, said Namibia had committed US$5 million (N$74.3 million) towards ocean research and protection during the 2019/20 financial year.

    That included US$2.3 million (N$34.1 million) to facilitate research into fish stocks and the marine ecosystem, and a further US$2.7 million (N$40.1 million) to intensify the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and to improve ocean governance.

    He said Namibia was committed to increasing national per capita fish consumption to the global average of 20.4 kg by 2020.

    “We have already increased per capita national fish consumption from 4 kg in 2014 to 15.4 kg in 2018.”

    In addition, Namibia, Angola and South Africa, together with development partners, have committed US$3.8 million (N$56.4 million) for maritime research activities under the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) for 2019/20 financial year.

    Geingob further said Namibia was committed to ensuring that at least 10% of the country's exclusive economic zone would be gazetted as a marine protected area by next year.

    He said Namibia's entire coastal belt is a national park which includes three coastal Ramsar sites: the Walvis Bay Lagoon, Sandwich Harbour and the Orange River Mouth.

    According to Geingob Namibia is one of the countries with the greatest potential for wind power generation, especially around the coastal town of Lüderitz.

    Namibia is committed to generating approximately 144 MW of wind power by 2022.

    Geingob said Namibia is in the final stages of ratifying Annex Six of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, which includes 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from ships by 2050. This is in line with the International Maritime Organisation's Agreement.

    He said the threat that climate change poses to the ocean is a common challenge that requires collective action.

    “Let us act together and with urgency, to ensure our ocean continues to support sustainable global climate. The livelihoods of our people and humanity depend on our collective ability to take urgent action to sustain our oceans.”

    Geingob recently promised Omani billionaire Mohammed Al Barwani, who is the majority owner of Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP), that there would soon be a final decision on their application for an environmental clearance certificate.

    This follows a letter in which Al Barwani, whose net worth is believed to be over N$16 billion, expressed concern to Geingob about the delay of the Sandpiper Marine Phosphate Project after its environmental clearance certificate was set aside last year.

    The Sandpiper Project is located about 120 kilometres southwest of Walvis Bay.

    The High Level Panel brings together world leaders who recognise that economic production and ocean protection must be mutually supporting if we are to “produce, protect and prosper”.

    ELLANIE SMIT

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  • 09/24/19--15:00: Fodder project falls apart
  • Fodder project falls apartFodder project falls apart A cardboard-based fodder research project at Oshikuku, which could have revolutionised the farm feed industry in Namibia, is facing closure.

    Eighteen goats linked to the project are in critical condition, after going without food for days, while employees have not been paid for two months.

    The initiative, funded and technically supported by the Local Economic Development Agency (LEDA) of the urban and rural development ministry, through the Oshikuku town council, has run out of funds and can no longer afford to buy animal feed or pay employee salaries.

    On 16 September, the town council wrote to the ministry, saying it wants to shut down the project.

    It wants the goats to be auctioned and the employees, who have not received their salaries for two months, to be sent home.

    Food technologist and project business partner, Roderick Haraseb, who co-owns the project patent with the town council, has accused the local authority of showing no interest in the initiative.

    “The project has run out of funds and currently we cannot afford ingredients to produce feed or buy animal feed to feed the animals. I wrote several letters to the council, requesting them to support the project financially, but the council is not doing anything to support the project to buy animal feed or pay the salaries of the employees,” Haraseb said.

    Namibian Sun has had sight of letters he wrote to the council.

    “I am writing to express my disappointment and frustration with council's inaction regarding concerns raised in the letters of the 18/08/2019 and 06/09/2019.

    “I am getting an impression, unless council assures me otherwise, that council is not genuinely interested about the serious and urgent operational concerns and (the) rest of the content raised in these letters, since it's now taking a month without any action taken (sic).

    “As a business partner, who co-owns an industrial grade patent with it, it truly concerns me the level of seriousness of the Oshikuku town council is about industrialising Oshikuku to create jobs and improve its own local economy (sic),” Haraseb wrote to the council on 13 September.

    Oshikuku CEO George Hipondoka refused to comment, saying he needs to be guided by the council on what to say.

    In his letter to the urban and rural development ministry, dated 16 September, Hipondoka said the council is not in a position to support the project financially.

    “This letter serves to seek your authorisation to close off the Oshikuku animal feed research project. After considering a number of factors, such as the current economic situation the country finds itself in, the unavailability of funds to continue with the maintenance of the animals and (the) remuneration of project employees and the fact that your ministry has funded the project since (its) inception, as well as the fact we are unable to find an investor into the project, as the product is not yet registered as required by law, council has promptly resolved to close off the project,” the letter said.

    “In this light, council is also seeking authorisation to sell off the animals at a public auction and pay off the project employees.”



    Project delayed

    The agriculture ministry had previously said it was not satisfied with the project's research station at Oshikuku and demanded that trials be carried out at the Omatjene Agricultural Research Centre, west of Otjiwarongo, to assess the feed composition in terms of energy, protein, mineral and wax content.

    After securing funding and technical support from the LEDA in April 2017, the project approached the agriculture ministry's department that deals with registrations, asking for the standards to be used at their research centre. They were told to go ahead, because there are no standards.

    Haraseb said they started producing animal feed from cardboard boxes and spent six months, from the end of April to October 2017, strictly feeding two cows and two goats with the new feed.

    They made use of state veterinarians to inspect the animals and their product gained positive responses from South African laboratories.

    On 2 August last year, Haraseb submitted an application for the registration of the farm feed, after he presented their study to the agriculture ministry's management.

    However, on 13 September last year, the ministry informed Haraseb that his application was not successful, and wanted the feed to be retested.

    Haraseb said there was no more money available to do the retesting.

    He also accused the ministry of not being serious from the beginning, saying they were not clear about what they wanted.

    ILENI NANDJATO

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    Lifestyle audits: Identifying hidden incomeLifestyle audits: Identifying hidden income Lorenzo Strauss - Have you ever looked at an individual and wondered how he or she affords the lifestyle in line with their job or business?

    They might have a similar income to yours, but they are the ones driving a luxury car or dressing in designer clothes or going for expensive holidays. You might have questioned this as something doesn’t add up.

    At PwC we have realised that looking at the financial records of an entity is not necessarily the only indicator of fraud, but the lifestyles of the executives, managerial employees and even clerks can also be an indicator of fraud.

    This is where a lifestyle audit or lifestyle analysis might be useful. A lifestyle audit is a comparison of a person declared income with their standard of living in order to identify indicators that the person might be living above and beyond their means. A lifestyle audit mainly involves the investigation of a person’s assets and habits to see if he/she could realistically afford the spending exhibited.

    Red flags

    Lifestyle audits aren’t just performed at random and are often targeted based on red flags noted.

    For example, Inland Revenue might perform an audit on a taxpayer if they feel that there are indications that not all sources of income are being declared owing to the flamboyant lifestyle being exhibited by the individual. There are however explainable instances when this might not be a red flag, for example when the person receives an inheritance or other benefits.

    In today’s digital world, many of us share our lives on social media. If social media posts reveal a lifestyle that doesn’t match the person’s reported and expected income, this can also be a potential red flag.

    Fairly complicated

    Lifestyle audits are regularly carried out globally by various enforcement and regulatory bodies, based on red flags noticed by them. However, in Namibia this can be a fairly complicated process owing to the lack of proper online databases and the rampant use of cash for most transactions.

    Lifestyle audit steps mainly include: Analysing assets (properties, bank accounts, etc.), one-to-one interviews with relevant individuals and social media site reviews (however specific consent or regulatory intervention might be required).

    Overall, lifestyle audits can be a powerful tool to combat and detect fraud and assist with the identification of undeclared sources of income.

    If you are interested in knowing more about this tool and investing training time on this hot topic, you are welcome to contact Lorenzo Strauss at the PwC Business School or visit our website at http://www.pwc.com/na/events for more details.

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    Perfect storm destroys Thomas CookPerfect storm destroys Thomas CookHost of bad decisions Downing Street has launched an official probe into the corporate collapse. Thomas Cook failed because it didn't move with the times. – Neil Wilson, Analyst: Markets.com Roland Jackson - The brutal failure of travel firm Thomas Cook was sealed as a rescue floundered, but it was also sparked by mismanagement, the internet, geopolitical unrest, and Brexit, according to analysts.

    The venerable but debt-plagued holiday group, whose presence on the high street dates back to 1841, ended in acrimony just after 0100 GMT on Monday as shareholders and banks rejected a plea for more money.

    "There was no choice. It was a case of all of the investors and debt-holders seeing this as a dead company," said Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre.

    "So nobody was really prepared was fork out any more cash," he told AFP.

    That decision prompted the 178-year-old business to shut up shop, axe 22 000 staff worldwide, and leave some 600 000 customers - including more than 150 000 Britons - stranded abroad requiring repatriation.

    Official probe

    London has launched an official probe into the corporate collapse, according to a Downing Street spokeswoman who cautioned that there were "a number of complicated reasons behind the failure".

    Industry watchers also argue that the company was blighted in the longer term by a series of bad decisions and unfortunate circumstances which helped prompt its downfall.

    "There's plenty of factors in its demise; mainly too much debt," said Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.

    "But ultimately the debt was the symptom of the ailment - Thomas Cook failed because it didn't move with the times," he added, citing its inability to embrace the web.

    Poor decisions

    Poor management decisions - chiefly the disastrous merger with rival MyTravel in 2007 - left Thomas Cook loaded with unsustainable debt and burgeoning costs, he noted.

    The group then embarked upon a drastic restructuring in 2013 as it sought to shore up its finances and slash costs.

    Its performance was also hit by geopolitical unrest in key markets Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey.

    And the Brexit referendum vote in 2016 and the accompanying slump in the pound also weighed and contributed to three profit warnings.

    Unusually hot weather last year meanwhile persuaded many Britons to stay at home instead of seeking the sun on the Mediterranean.

    MyTravel

    By last Friday night, the company's share price collapsed to hit just 0.0345 pounds, which contrasted with about £1.20 in early 2018. The stock was suspended on Monday.

    "If we go back, it made a number of [bad] acquisitions," added Miah.

    "MyTravel was one of them - integration of that business hasn’t gone too well, so that's one issue.

    "After that you've had a whole host of other problems," he told AFP.

    "You've had terrorism in Turkey and Egypt - two of its most popular destinations, then you've had unusual weather patterns - and last year's heatwave resulted in so many people not travelling and staying in the UK.

    "Then on top of that, you've got the Brexit uncertainty and the impact it creates on sterling."

    He added that the Brexit-hit pound has weakened sharply against major currencies, ramping up costs for both the company and its customers.

    Rescue package

    Meanwhile, Thomas Cook sought to shore up its finances earlier this year, with Chinese peer Fosun -which was already the biggest shareholder - agreeing to inject £450 million into the business as part of a £900-million rescue package.

    However last weekend, the UK holiday firm failed to secure another £200 million from private investors which banks insisted it needed to survive.

    "Banks pulled the rug out from under it. The Fosun deal looked good to go but the banks wanted another £200 million," added Wilson.

    "Once that was not forthcoming the only way was down and out."

    Miah added that the request for more cash "just really was the final nail in the coffin".

    Change

    And he argued that management was to blame over strategy - and was unwilling to adapt to the internet age, leaving it exposed to sector-wide intense competition.

    "The real structural problem for them - and this is probably the biggest management failure - is the fact that since the early days it didn't foresee that the internet was going to be such a strong and dominant force and it didn’t invest enough in that," Miah told AFP.

    "It still had a huge high street portfolio which is very costly and it's seen other players leap in front in the online market and take market share."

    He added: "We cannot entirely blame Brexit here."– Nampa/AFP

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  • 09/24/19--15:00: Our World Cup hoodoo
  • Our World Cup hoodooOur World Cup hoodoo Japan Rugby World Cup fever is very high at the moment, with many Namibians focusing on Pool B, where the Welwitschias are grouped alongside reigning world champions New Zealand, South Africa’s Springboks, Canada and Six Nations’ whipping boys Italy. Despite consistently qualifying for rugby’s biggest global showpiece for a record six times, the Namibian side are yet to win a match. Last Sunday’s opening loss to Italy was Namibia’s 20th defeat at Rugby World Cups over the years. In fact, not many are giving our boys a chance of breaking their drought and winning a World Cup match for the first time in their history, considering they still have to face the might of the all-conquering All Blacks and our talented neighbours south of the Orange River. However, Namibia are looking at improving this time around and registering at least one victory. During the 2015 edition, the Namibians snatched a losing bonus point, after their narrow 17-16 defeat to Georgia. A win against Canada, who are ranked a mere one place above Namibia, is within reach. This is according to many rugby commentators. However, seeing that many are not giving Namibia a chance against more fancied opponents like the All Blacks and the Springboks, surely the time has arrived for our boys to rewrite the history books and ditch their perpetual whipping boys’ tag this time around. Just like Namibia, Canada are also made up of those juggling full-time work and rugby. The 13 October clash will therefore be an exciting battle between two sides who have quite a lot in common. Namibia can ill-afford to rest on their laurels against Canada. They need to massively improve from their 47-22 defeat to Italy on Sunday, by producing a brave defensive display this time around. Equally, we have nothing to lose against the All Blacks and South Africa; we have to go out there and compete with the best. Good luck to our boys!

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  • 09/24/19--15:00: Leopards under threat
  • Leopards under threatLeopards under threat ELLANIE SMIT

    The killing of problem leopards without reporting it to the environment ministry is one of the greatest threats to the Namibian leopard population.
    This is according to the latest leopard census conducted in partnership with the Namibia Professional Hunting Association and the environment ministry from September 2017 to March 2019.
    The last comprehensive leopard census undertaken in Namibia was in 2010/2011.
    The report indicates that the leopard population in Namibia has declined from 14 154 in 2011 to an estimated 11 733. A total of 392 respondents took part in the study, 157 of whom indicated that they had killed leopards on their farms.
    Of those respondents, 50% indicated that they had not applied to the ministry for the relevant permit.
    Over the duration of the study respondents reported getting rid of 342 leopards, compared to the 196 problem leopards recorded by the environment ministry and the 183 reported in 2010/2011.
    In the communal conservancies an average of 336 leopard conflict incidents were logged per year. The report said that since 2011 the reporting rate of problem leopard removal by freehold farmers had declined by 5% to 45%.
    “Ensuring that livestock and game losses were offset by economic incentives such as tourism and trophy hunting was shown to have a direct link to increased tolerance to leopard presence and lower conflict levels.”
    Between October 2016 and December 2018 respondents reported the loss of 3 977 head of livestock and game to leopard predation.
    The highest losses were of cattle (2 294 head), with the Khomas Region showing the greatest regional cattle loss at 1 242.
    The second greatest loss was of game (1 151), particularly in the Otjozondjupa Region (531). The Karas Region reported the largest combined sheep and goat losses (345).
    According to the report, 342 leopards were removed between October 2016 and December 2018 from the 157 respondents’ farms.
    The Karas Region had the highest average problem leopard removal rate at five per respondent, while Kunene had the lowest at 1.25 per respondent.
    The majority of respondents utilised shooting and cage traps (82%) as their primary methods of removing leopard from their property. Respondents also stated that they utilised the opportunity to trophy hunt (12%) a leopard in response to loss of livestock and/or game. A very low number of respondents used hunting with dogs, gin traps and poison as a removal method.
    “Of the respondents who stated the number of problem leopards removed, 50% did not apply to the environment ministry for a problem animal permit, 45% did apply for a permit and 5% did not answer the question,” according to the report.
    It said that between 2005 and 2018 the environment ministry recorded a total of 1543 permit records for the removal of problem leopards from freehold farms across Namibia, while a total of 1567 leopards were removed.
    The overwhelming majority of landowners (60%) shot these leopards, either by hunting them or after catching them in cage traps (67%). A small proportion utilised gin traps, hunting with dogs and snares.
    Furthermore the report said that over 16 years (2001 to 2017), in ten regions across 75 communal conservancies, 5 718 incidents of human-wildlife conflict involving leopard were catalogued. The average number of incidents logged per year was 336.


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    Definitions of middle-income trapDefinitions of middle-income trap Absolute definitions

    Spence, 2011

    The absolute MIT definition shows that Namibia is above the MIT identified threshold. This study provides fixed level of income as a threshold for the MIT, GDP per capita ranging between US$5 000 and US$10 000.

    Using the data by the World Bank, as a low middle-income country, Namibia entered the threshold of real GDP per capita of US$5 000 in 1999.

    The country then succeeded to move to an upper-middle income (UMI) country status in 2008, with an average GDP per capita growth of 5.3% between 1999 and 2008. Between 2009 and 2018, Namibia’s real GDP per capita growth slowed to 3.1%, despite bridging the US$10 000 threshold in 2014.

    The absolute MIT definition does not provide conclusive results on Namibia.

    This is mainly because the UMI upper bound is straddled around Namibia’s present-day GDP per capita. The thresholds of US$10 000 and US$11 750 is close to Namibia’s GDP per capita of US$11 135 in 2018.

    Felipe et al., 2012

    This approach emphasises the number of years a country spent within the income category. A country is in a MIT if it stays for more than 28 years in the lower-middle income range (LMIR).

    From the available data provided by the World Bank, Namibia spent around 19 years as a LMIR country before moving to the upper-middle-income (UMIR) range in 2008. Between 2008 and 2018, Namibia’s real GDP capita grew by 3.2% per annum which is more or less in line with the definition, which calls for 3.27% growth rate for UMI to transverse to higher-income (HI) countries.

    Namibia has been in the middle-income category for a period of 11 years, which is still below the 15 years which is the median of the economies that transition from the UMI category to HI.

    Eichengreen et al, 2013

    Namibia’s recent growth pattern suggests that it could be in danger of becoming part of the slow transition economies.

    Given the number of years that Namibia has been UMI and the recent growth performance, there are indications that the economy may be at risk of making a slow transition from UMI to HI. For Namibia to transition into HI within the historical median of 15 years, a growth rate of 3.27 % is required.

    Relative definitions

    In most empirical work on the middle- income trap, the relative income definition is the preferred approach.

    Bulman et al., (2014)

    Growth determinants at low- and high-income levels may be different and there is a need for countries to transition from growth strategies that are effective at low-income levels to growth strategies that are effective at high-income levels.

    Namibia barely makes it into the middle-income category, just above the low income threshold of 10% over the last 28 years, which implies that Namibia could be stuck at this middle-income level and this calls for change in growth strategies.

    Woo et al. (2012)

    Namibia has always been in the low-income category relative to the global economic leader, i.e. the US and showed no tendencies of catching up. The Namibia Catch up Index (CUI) has not moved above 20% for more than 28 years, which is required to be classified as a middle-income country.

    Im and Rosenblatt (2013)

    If a country grows faster (in per capita terms) than the rich countries, it will eventually catch up with the high-income countries GDP per capita.

    Using the catch-up definition, assuming the US economy’s average growth rate of GDP per capita is 1.8%, it will take Namibia another 54 years to

    converge to high income status, provided that it grows by an average of 4% per annum. The interpretation is such that Namibia’s average GDP per capita growth rate over the last 50 years is 0.64%, at this growth rate, it will take Namibia over six centuries to reach high income status.

    However, taken the period after independence, it shows that it will still take Namibia 54 years to reach high income status, however, it will have to grow at 5% per annum.

    Namibia’s average GDP per capita growth rate since independence is 2.13%, at this growth rate, it will take Namibia over three centuries to reach high income status. – Bank of Namibia

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    Health fast-tracks thousands of postsHealth fast-tracks thousands of posts The health ministry is gearing up to employ more than 4 000 extra people to address the chronic staff shortages at hospitals and clinics across Namibia.

    In a statement issued last week, the ministry said it was aware of the lack of human resources, including at the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital where a lack of specialist doctors had been highlighted recently.

    In order to address these shortages, the ministry was recently given the green light to create more than 4 000 new positions.

    Work has already begun to identify where staff are most needed.

    At the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital there are currently 16 positions for specialists. The ministry said an additional 26 positions would be created, bringing the total to 42 specialists at the hospital.

    The ministry has also put in place a number of alternative mechanisms to support health facilities struggling with lack of human resources.

    These include agreements between the ministry and several private hospitals; the national medical outreach initiative, which mobilises both public health professionals and private doctors for medical missions to different public facilities; and support from international medical volunteers.

    Under these agreements, private doctors support public health institutions, including the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital, and various district hospitals. The deployment of private doctors has helped strengthen the available professional skills in surgical procedures, anaesthesiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as neonatal care.

    “This has worked very well, and the health of many patients has been restored and many lives saved,” the ministry stressed.

    The ministry highlighted further that the medical outreach programme has been one of the ministry's most successful initiatives for several years.





    “The country has benefitted immensely from the support by selfless and generous volunteer doctors and health professionals who support many of our facilities through the mobilisation of equipment, funds, training (capacity building) and conducting of medical procedures. Many of these volunteers come to Namibia for up to 40 days at a time and work at our facilities around the country,” it said.

    The ministry highlighted that a medical team from Australia, who form part of a charity called Health Volunteers International, has visited the country since June 2017 and has supported the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital immensely.

    The team, led by Dr Andrew Ottaway, is currently in the country to help train medical and nursing professionals.

    Moreover, they have provided basic equipment to reopen an operating theatre at Eenhana Hospital, which has been non-operational for several years.

    Since last year, the team has been visiting Namibia twice a year. The team intends to increase its visits to three next year and to expand their work to the Engela and Eenhana district hospitals.

    Another non-governmental organisation, NEO for Namibia, led by Professor Thomas Berger from Switzerland, has supported the ministry for several years.

    Their interventions and support have led to notable improvements in neonatal and maternal care at state hospitals.

    Another organisation supporting the ministry is Mudiro, spearheaded by Barbara Muller. They are active mainly in the Kavango East, Kavango West, Otjozondjupa and Oshikoto regions.

    There are several other organisations that support the ministry.



    JANA-MARI SMITH

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  • 09/24/19--15:00: Hepatitis torrent
  • Hepatitis  torrentHepatitis torrentLeading cause of maternal deaths Unless the outbreak is stopped, hepatitis E could become endemic and Namibia might never get rid of it. The relentless tide of hepatitis E that struck residents in poverty-stricken informal settlements near the end of 2017 has seen a 17 000% increase in new infections and a 5 400% rise in deaths over the past two years.

    Since the start of the outbreak in 2017, the total number of infections rose from 37 in late December that year, to 6 407 by 8 September this year.

    Over the same period, the number of people who died increased from 1 in December 2017 to 55 total fatalities now.

    In August, health authorities confirmed that since the outbreak erupted the hepatitis E virus has become the leading cause of maternal deaths in Namibia.

    To date, the majority of deaths have been female, many of whom were either pregnant or had recently given birth.

    Over the past year the number of total infections increased by close to 80%, from 3 571 by 30 September 2018 to 6 407 this month.

    Deaths between September last year and this year rose by 77.4%, from 31 to 55 by 8 September.

    Since January this year, new infections continued to spike, from 4 227 by 6 January to 6 407 this month - a 51.6% increase.

    By 6 January, the virus had claimed the lives of 40 people, which has increased by 37.5% to a total of 55 fatalities this month.



    Ruthless

    Analysis of the statistics from the past two years show that the number of infections rose from fewer than 40 to over 1 000 over four months, from 37 infected in December 2017 to 1 030 infected people by 25 March 2018.

    By July 2018, infections increased to more than 2 400.

    By September, infections had risen by more than 1 000, totalling 3 571 cases by the end of September 2018.

    Between December 2018 and January 2019, the biggest spike in fatalities was recorded over a short time period, from 34 deaths in mid-December to 40 by 6 January. By April this year, infections had increased to more than 5 000, and by August, to more than 6 200.



    Hard hit

    Of the 6 407 cumulative cases recorded by 8 September, the Khomas Region's poorest neighbourhoods remain most impacted, accounting for 63%, or 4 006, of the total cases.

    The Erongo Region accounts for 1 467 (23%) of cases, while the remaining regions, including Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana, Oshikoto, Kavango, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke, Hardap, //Karas and Kunene, account for the rest. Of the 55 fatalities, 23 were maternal deaths. Of the total 55 deaths recorded since 2017, 35 were female and 20 men. Of the 6 407 cases recorded, 1 967 persons said they were unemployed, while 75% of those who tested positive for hepatitis E use communal taps.







    Fifty-five per cent of those infected ate food from street vendors, records show.





    This year, increased awareness and testing found an increase of hepatitis A and hepatitis B cases too.

    A total of 168 hepatitis A and 181 hepatitis E cases have been reported to date.



    Critical gaps

    Major challenges remain in the fight to end the outbreak and prevent it from becoming endemic.

    The latest report states that the ongoing active transmission of the virus continues countrywide, while the response teams struggle with “limited staff and capacity” at the public health emergency centre.



    Additionally, a lack of a senior outbreak response focal person, required to enforce accountability and implementation of the outbreak interventions, poses a challenge.

    Insufficient water and sanitation facilities, the main drivers of the virus, continue to hamper efforts to stop the outbreak.



    Major threat

    Dr Bernard Haufiku, who heads the National Health Emergency Management Committee, warned last month that the outbreak, unless stopped, could become endemic in the country.

    In that case, Namibia will struggle to get rid of the virus “and we may actually never get rid of it at all,” he said.

    He further warned that the chain of transmission has not yet been broken, stressing that the outbreak “begins with sanitation, water provision and personal hygiene. And it will end with us addressing those three challenges. Those are the three fundamental challenges we are facing.”

    Haufiku underlined that the outbreak is more than just a health issue, but is linked to the country's socio-economic challenges, including poverty, unemployment and other factors plaguing informal settlements.





    JANA-MARI SMITH

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  • 09/24/19--15:00: Trapped in the middle
  • Trapped in the middleTrapped in the middleVision 2030 decades behind Namibia needs to improve its human capital, export structure, total factor productivity, innovation and infrastructure if it wants to realise its dream of an industrialised economy. Namibia has been stuck in the ‘middle-income trap’ for the past 2 and half decades, and at that speed, it may take a long time to escape it. – Bernie Zaaruka and Charlotte Tjeriko, BoN Jo-Maré Duddy – Experts at the Bank of Namibia’s annual symposium recently differed on whether Namibia has fallen into a middle-income trap, but they agreed that the economy will have to grow by 3.27% per annum for the next 15 years to become a high-income country.

    Namibia successfully transitioned from low- to upper middle-income status in 2008.

    A middle-income trap (MIT) is a development stage that characterises countries that are squeezed between low-wage producers, particularly China, and highly skilled, fast-moving innovators, the symposium was told.

    “However, there is growing concern that Namibia might be in a ‘middle-income trap’ and unable to move to higher levels of economic growth and further economic transformation,” Bernie Zaaruka and Charlotte Tjekiro of the BoN’s research and financial stability department said in a paper delivered at the symposium.

    Despite the “huge improvements” in poverty levels, Namibia’s total factor productivity has been falling and the country relied “substantially” on foreign direct investment in the mining sector for technological transfer, Zaaruka and Tjekiro say.

    “Therefore, adequate technology creation and diffusion did not occur, and industry linkages and clustering are not widespread to break through a potential middle-income trap,” they say.

    The authors point out that there is no universal definition of an MIT. The relative income definition, however, is the preferred approach. (For definitions, see page 2.)

    Zaaruka and Tjekiro conclude that the relative approach to an MIT definition indicates that Namibia is stuck in a trap.

    “With an average GDP per capita growth rate of about 3.8%, Namibia has moved from 16% to 18% of the US income per capita during the 1990-2018 period, far below from the high-income threshold. Namibia has been stuck in the ‘middle-income trap’ for the past 2 and half decades, and at that speed, it may take a long time to escape it,” Zaaruka and Tjekiro say.

    Triggers

    The authors focused on five economic factors most often identified as triggers of a MIT – human capital, export structure, total factor productivity, innovation and infrastructure.

    They compared Namibia to five other countries to track its progress: Botswana, Malaysia, Estonia, Mauritius and Poland.

    Namibia recorded the lowest indicator level on human capital index compared to all the other countries, the authors say. “Also, an inadequately educated workforce is listed in The Global Competitiveness Report as among the most problematic factors for Namibia,” they add.

    A skilled labour force is key in improving productivity levels in any economy, Zaaruka and Tjeriko stress. “Knowledge in the economy has clearly become an increasingly important factor in wealth creation than often surpasses the natural resources endowment.”

    Although acknowledging government’s efforts to improve the quality of Namibia’s education through the budget allocation to the education sector, more is needed, they say.

    “Further efforts, especially in improving the quality of education, are necessary in Namibia to create a well-educated workforce and thus avoid a potential MIT.”

    Export structure

    An important challenge for middle-income countries seeking to maintain their customary high growth rates is to move up the technological ladder, Zaaruka and Tjekiro say.

    Countries that are unable to upgrade and diversify their exports may become caught in an MIT, they say.

    Namibia’s exports have averaged 44% of GDP from the period after independence, which is a decline from the average of 52% from the period pre-independence, the authors’ research shows. High-tech exports as a share of manufacturing exports for Namibia surged up between 2004 and 2007 to reach 11% and then levelled off at below 5%.

    “Namibia performed poorly in both the exports of goods and services as well as the high-tech exports as a percentage of manufacturing exports,” the authors say.

    “… under the current globalised environment, MIT countries are unable to compete with low-income, low-wage economies in manufacturing exports and are unable to compete with advanced economies in high skill innovation.”

    According to the authors, this indicates that the export structure indicator could potentially hold back Namibia in its quest to become an industrialised nation by 2030. “The export structure indicator is therefore a trigger for MIT in Namibia.”

    Productivity

    Total factor productivity (TFP) indicates how efficiently the available production factors are transformed into final output, the authors quote research. Countries that managed to successfully to move out of the MIT trap had a relatively high TFP growth, they say.

    According to them, “the potential causes of the MIT are evident in TFP patterns for Namibia”.

    The data shows that the average growth rate of TFP for Namibia between 1990 to 2017 is -0.1% and highly volatile, Zaaruka and Tjeriko say. Comparing the period between 1990 to 2004 and 2005 to 2017, the data shows that the TFP growth rate for Namibia declined from an average of 1.8% to an average of -2.2% respectively.

    The average TFP growth rate for Namibia is the lowest amongst all the examined countries, they say.

    “The data indicates that Namibia experienced a sharp decline in TFP growth, implying that the country has been slow in adopting new and improved technologies, which is a characteristic of MITs. Thus, we can postulate that TFP could be a potential MIT triggering factor in Namibia,” Zaaruka and Tjekiro conclude.

    Innovation, infrastructure

    Research shows that a country’s innovative capacity is the most cited factor associated with escaping an MIT, they say.

    “At the heart of the middle-income trap is the insufficient development of domestic innovation capabilities, which translates into low productivity growth.”

    Namibia’s level of innovation is among the lowest, Zaaruka and Tjeriko say.

    “In Namibia, policies aiming at boosting productivity, the absorption of technology and innovation in a broad sense should be prioritised. The priority should be to facilitate technology adoption, as well as the promotion of new economic activities (such as new exports) with high potential spill-overs for the rest of the economy,” they say.

    The quality of infrastructure plays a major role in escaping an MIT, Zaaruka and Tjekiro emphasise. Particularly important are high-speed communications networks, they say.

    In terms of the infrastructure pillar, Namibia is the third lowest among the examined countries.

    Policy

    Namibia’s education system needs to be linked with industrial targets, Zaaruka and Tjeriko say.

    “To ensure that education contributes substantially to economic growth in Namibia, educational policy must be tailored to support the national development strategy, rather than simply increasing literacy rates, average years of schooling or even gross tertiary enrolment.”

    The country should prioritise niche manufacturing that is employment-intensive and geared to global markets, they recommend.

    Namibia should leverage on the well-developed private sector health provisions to increase exports of goods and services, they say. “Namibia should consider exporting of modern services to the regional market by leveraging on the well-developed private sector health care facilities.”

    The authors say focus should be placed on “acquiring foreign technology that build domestic firms technological and business capabilities, to improve productivity gains”.

    In addition, “government in consultation with the private sector should identify growth-enhancing infrastructure projects for collaboration as well as making public procurement deliver value for money by increasing efficiency”.

    The authors further say policy-makers need to reassess the regulatory framework, as well as all business-related policies to improve Namibia’s productivity and competitiveness ranking.

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  • 09/25/19--15:00: Bok backlash feared
  • Bok backlash fearedBok backlash fearedNeighbours clash for second time at a Rugby World Cup Namibia face a tough encounter against the Springboks on Saturday, who are smarting from an opening loss to the All Blacks. Namibia and South Africa will meet for the second time at a Rugby World Cup on Saturday in Pool B of the Japan edition of the global showpiece.

    The Namibians were whitewashed by the Springboks in their first World Cup clash in 2011, losing by a whopping 87 points.

    Both sides have fresh faces this time around. The Boks slumped to fifth in the world rankings after their 13-23 defeat to world champions New Zealand in their first pool match last Saturday. Namibia are ranked 23rd in the world and will have to pull off something extraordinary if they want to keep the score to a respectable level, while causing an upset appears to be beyond the realm of possibility.

    They were beaten 47-22 by Italy last weekend, but certainly gave the Azzurri a run for their money. Namibia's squad for the match is expected to be announced this morning. The South Africans announced their squad yesterday, revealing a whopping 13 changes to the side that lost to the All Blacks.

    Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus said the match against Namibia was an “ideal opportunity” to rest his key players.

    Only outside centre Lukhanyo Am and wing Makazole Mapimpi keep their places for the clash against the Namibians. Erasmus also sprang a surprise by selecting veteran hooker Schalk Brits (38) to captain the side, but from the unfamiliar position of number 8. Brits, who replaces the benched Siya Kolisi as captain, will become the second-oldest Springbok to appear at a World Cup after Victor Matfield.

    Herschel Jantjies and Elton Jantjies are the halfback pairing, while the likes of Steven Kitshoff, Eben Etzebeth and Cheslin Kolbe join Kolisi on a high-quality reserve bench.

    “This gives us an ideal opportunity to rest guys who are vital for us in the big, big games,” said Erasmus, who is eyeing a possible quarterfinal match-up against an in-form Ireland side.

    “It is a 'nice-to-have', and it covers a few things for us and gives us proper game time for other players,” added the coach.

    He said he will probably give Mbongeni Mbonambi a “proper start of 50-70 minutes” and then move Brits to his more familiar role of hooker.

    “Having 31 guys here for what will hopefully be an eight-week tournament for us, you have to try and rotate your hookers,” said Erasmus.

    While acknowledging that the Springboks will go into the match as overwhelming favourites at the City of Toyota Stadium, he said he was expecting a physical challenge from their African neighbours.

    “If we play to our full potential, we should win those games,” he said, while also referring to the other Pool B matches against Canada and Italy. However, Erasmus also acknowledged that the gap between the top teams and the also-rans has shrunk.

    “You don't get 100 points, 80 points and 70 points anymore - it's been shown in the first week,” said Erasmus.



    The Springbok team is as follows:

    Warrick Gelant; S'Busiso Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Frans Steyn, Makazole Mapimpi, Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies, Schalk Brits (captain), Kwagga Smith, Francois Louw, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Vincent Koch, Mbongeni Mbonambi and Tendai Mtawarira.

    Replacements: Steven Kitshoff, Thomas du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Cobus Reinach, Damian de Allende and Cheslin Kolbe.

    -Additional story by Nampa/AFP

    NAMPA/AFP

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  • 09/25/19--15:00: Tough Doha test
  • Tough Doha testTough Doha testJohannes faces world-class opponents at world champs The poster-child for Namibian marathon running, Helalia Johannes, will face stiff competition at the IAAF world championships in Doha. Helalia Johannes will not only experience hot temperatures in Doha, but will also be competing against about 70 top professionals from all over the world when she runs in the women's marathon at the IAAF world champs on Friday.

    The runners will set off under floodlights on a looped course along the waterfront of Doha's famous Corniche, which connects Doha Bay and the Doha city centre. Temperatures are expected to drop significantly from the predicted daytime range of 35 degrees Celsius and above.

    Johannes has set personal bests this year of 30:59 over 10 kilometres, 1:10:30 for the half-marathon and 2:22:25 for the marathon.

    More importantly, she has the experience of running a championship race in searing heat. She won the Commonwealth title in Australia in hot temperatures

    Her coach Robert Kaxuxwena says the athlete's secret is that she has rid herself of the fear of running against top Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes. Kaxuxwena said many athletes fear running against the best distance runners in the world, but Johannes has shrugged off this fear, and is blossoming.

    “Because of her hard work, she has hit the kind of brilliant form which puts her on that top level; now Kenyan and Ethiopian runners fear her.”

    Kaxuxwena says they are eyeing a top-10 finish.

    In the past decade, the fastest time for the women's world championship marathon is 2:25:15, recorded by China's Bai Xue in Berlin 10 years ago.

    Kenya's Edna Kiplagat approached that speed in taking the 2013 title in Moscow in 2:25:44, having won the previous edition in Daegu in 2:28:43. The last two winning times have been only marginally swifter. Ethiopia's Mare Dibaba ran 2:27.35 in Beijing and Bahrain's Rose Chelimo won in London two years ago in a time of 2:27:11.

    Chelimo is defending her title and is one of the favourites. Her teammates are also expected to do well.

    Desi Mokonin has a best time of 2:23:39, and significantly, has run 2:23:44 this season.

    Shitaye Eshete has run 2:22:39 this year, and Eunice Chumba's best of 2:24:27 is only marginally slower than the defending champion.

    Kenya's Ruth Chepngetich (25) won this year's Dubai Marathon in 2:17:08 - the third fastest time ever behind Paula Radcliffe's world record of 2:15:25 and the 2:17:01 run by Kenya's Mary Keitany in winning the 2017 London Marathon.

    Kenya's Visiline Jepkesho has run 2:21:37, and 2:22.58, while Edna Kiplagat, who has a best of 2:19:50, is back seeking a third world title at the age of 39.

    Ethiopia is represented by Ruti Aga, who has run 2:20:40 this year and has a best of time 2:18:34, and Roza Dereje, who has run 2:20:51 this year, and has a best of 2:19:17.

    Shure Demise has run 2:21:05 this season.

    -Additional info by the IAAF

    LIMBA MUPETAMI

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    Ipinge warns against 'pension' vendorsIpinge warns against 'pension' vendorsAccuses them of preying on elderly at pay-points Otjozondjupa’s governor Otto Ipinge has expressed his dismay over vendors who descend on pension pay-points at the end of the month. NAMPA

    Otjozondjupa’s governor Otto Ipinge has cautioned pensioners against vendors who allegedly take advantage of them at pay-points when they receive their monthly grant.

    Speaking at the official launch of the Food Bank programme for Otjozondjupa at Otjiwarongo last week, where nearly 300 pensioners were also present, Ipinge said his office is disturbed to see the vendors follow the vehicles around that serve as mobile payment units for the pensioners.

    The governor said he has spoken to pensioners who told him they “do not see” their pension money as they just hand it over to the vendors.

    Ipinge also claimed that the products sold to the vendors are cheap, substandard items which they buy from local shops and add huge mark-ups to.

    “They buy shoes, portable radios, blankets and torches and sell them, even on credit, at triple the original price,” he said.

    He also called on the Namibian police to conduct patrols at pension pay-points to provide security on pay days.

    The monthly government grant for pensioners is N$1 300.

    Several pensioners who spoke to Nampa on condition of anonymity said they owe vendors up to N$4 000.

    “We survive on credit. We pay them when we receive our grants and borrow again in order to survive,” they said.

    The poverty ministry’s spokesperson Lot Ndamanomhata in an interview said the issue of vendors flooding the pay-points is a serious concern that needs attention from both the local and regional councillors who identify the points where pay-outs are done.

    “As the ministry responsible for these social grants we are really concerned because these businesspeople are exploiting pensioners,” he said, adding that they have received numerous complaints on the matter from all 14 regions.

    Ndamanomhata said the ministry's regional offices conduct regular outreach programmes for pensioners to raise awareness of how they can be more prudent with their money.

    “I think in future lawmakers should look into changing the Pension Act of 1992, Act No. 10, which regulates pension matters, so that restrictions on how much a pensioner should spend on credit, alcohol and food become clear in the Act. There are some pensioners who go hungry the day after receiving their money, which is sad,” he said.

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    Food bank roll-out in full swingFood bank roll-out in full swingOshikoto is up next As promised, the poverty ministry is rolling out yet another food bank ensuring no Namibian is hungry. JANA-MARI SMITH

    The poverty ministry this month rolled out food distribution to the Oshikoto Region in its ongoing programme to address ensure no Namibian goes to bed hungry.

    The launch of food distribution to the region follows the launch of food banks at Otjiwarongo and Okahandja earlier in September.

    Speaking at the official opening of the food distribution programme in the Oshikoto Region on Wednesday, poverty minister Zephania Kameeta said the programme speaks to the basic building blocks of a caring nation.

    “Hunger is the lowest level of poverty,” he said, and the establishment of food banks is one way of addressing chronic hunger among the poorest of the poor in Namibia.

    The first food bank programme was launched in Windhoek in June 2016.

    The pilot food bank programme found that the food distributed to beneficiaries on a monthly basis, including maize meal, cooking oil, flour, dried beans, tinned fish and beef, salt, rice, and sugar, had a “significant impact on household food security.”

    Earlier this month, at the launch of food parcel distributions at Otjiwarongo and Okahandja, deputy poverty minister Aino Kapewangolo said: “This food bank is only one of the many ways we would like to address hunger in addition to other existing programmes such as the monthly social grants for pensioners, orphans and vulnerable children, school feeding programmes and drought relief.”

    One of the beneficiaries of the Otjozondjupa food bank programme, 49-year-old Richard Kamuserandu, said the initiative would help many struggling to secure a job and feed their families.

    A total of 350 households in the Otjiwarongo Constituency have been identified as the monthly beneficiaries of the food bank programme.

    Spending

    This week, minister Kameeta said in terms of financial sustainability, the food bank programme would be affordable with the current budgetary allocations for the next three years.

    Nampa reported recently the ministry had underspent its budget for the 2018/19 financial year by N$24.2 million, which was returned to treasury according to the ministry’s latest audit report by auditor-general Junias Kandjeke.

    During the financial year under review, the ministry, whose mandate is to initiate, implement and coordinate social development programmes aimed at promoting the wellbeing of all Namibians, underspent N$16.5 million on food provision.

    “The major cost item is food provisions under the food bank programme. The under-expenditure is attributed to the late posting of journals from previous financial years to N$ 16 632 795 in outstanding commitment that was reversed by the ministry of finance,” an explanation for the under-expenditure reads.

    On administration and support services, the ministry underspent by N$7.2 million.

    “The under-expenditure on remuneration is due to the Public Service Commission not approving the ministry’s recommendations for interviews and this affected other items associated with staffing, including daily subsistence and travel allowances,” Kandjeke is quoted as saying in the report.

    In addition, the ministry has an approved establishment to support its activities, which includes the adoption of a top-to-bottom recruitment approach, starting with the recruitment of managers.

    “Efforts by the ministry to fill these vacancies have not succeeded due to clearance to advertise and recruit these positions by the secretary to cabinet and recommendations from the Public Service Commission. Furthermore, the recruitment in lower positions is low due to the lack of personnel in the human resources office to accelerate finalising recruitment for advertised positions,” Kandjeke explained.

    Under-expenditure on fuel and transport was also due to the lack of recruitment and non-submission of invoices to the government garage.

    The ministry underspent a further N$506 609.98 on planning and review.

    Another notable finding by Kandjeke was that the ministry had five subsistence advances amounting to N$32 392.77.

    The ministry had 70 vehicles, valued at N$30.3 million, during the period under review.

    - ADDITIONAL REPORTING: NAMPA

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  • 09/25/19--15:00: 46 000 jobs through Agribank
  • 46 000 jobs through Agribank46 000 jobs through AgribankHealthy results in a tough climate Agribank says by creating about a third of all jobs in the agricultural sector, it plays a vital role in poverty alleviation. ELLANIE SMIT



    Agribank has created or maintained 46 816 direct jobs in the agriculture sector during the 2018/19 financial year, compared to 45 232 jobs during the previous financial year.

    “By creating about a third of all jobs in the agricultural sector, the bank plays a very important role in income generation and poverty alleviation,” Agribank CEO Sakaria Nghikembua said.

    Nghikembua said yesterday the bank recently announced a solid set of results for the year ending 31 March 2019, following its annual general meeting (AGM).

    He said despite the difficult operating environment, characterised by severe drought and an economy in recession, the bank delivered a healthy set of results.

    Nghikembua said the bank's total assets grew by nearly 7% year-on- year, exceeding the N$3 billion mark for the first time in its history.

    Total assets stood at N$3.011 billion at the end of March this year, compared to N$2.82 billion the year before.

    According to Nghikembua the bank’s loan book grew by 15% year-on-year, from N$2.4 billion in 2018 to N$2.8 billion in 2019, while arrears stood at about N$530 million.

    He said the growth in the loan book came largely on the back of new business growth.

    Loan disbursements were 22% up from the previous year, increasing from N$358 million in 2018 to N$438 million in 2019.

    Of the N$438 million, a total of N$41 million was disbursed exclusively to female clients, compared to the N$42 million in 2018, while N$50 million went to youth (below 40) in 2019, compared to N$98 million in 2018.

    A total of N$30 million was disbursed to communal farmers without collateral in 2019, compared to the N$26 million in 2018.

    Nghikembua said as a result of the increase in loan disbursements, interest income grew 14.5% from N$189 million in 2018 to N$216 million in 2019.

    Expenses were well-contained at a growth of 4.4%, while the bank's surplus increased 87% from N$30 million in 2018 to N$56 million in 2019.

    Expenses decreased from 10% and 17% in 2015 and 2016, respectively, to 11% in 2017, 7.8% in 2018 and 4.4% in 2019.

    Nghikembua explained that the bank’s major expenses are staff, professional services, consultancy services for audits, computers and travel and accommodation.

    He said the bank continued to roll out its salary-backed no-collateral product for communal farmers, disbursing N$26 million in new loans.

    Since April 2017, the bank has disbursed a total of N$61 million in these loans to communal farmers.

    In addition, the bank also introduced a no-collateral loan product for full-time communal farmers called the emerging retail financing product (ERFP) in May 2018. A total of N$4.5 million was disbursed to communal farmers under this product during the financial year.

    The introduction of the two no-collateral loan products makes it possible for communal farmers to access funding for agricultural purposes, with clients using the loans for livestock acquisition, water and electricity infrastructure, tractors, implements and fencing, amongst others.

    Nghikembua said the arrears ratio has also been reduced from 20.2% in 2016 to 19% this year. According to him the bank aims to reach 15% by 2020, which is the benchmark for financial institutions.

    During the same period, the bank registered a consistently increasing surplus position, in line with its sustainability strategy. Collections have steadily grown from N$157 million in 2015 to N$296 million in 2019.

    The bank made use of external collectors during various periods and collected N$11.5 million in 2017, N$82.4 million in 2018 and N$4.3 million this year. Currently, the bank is making use of internal staff.

    “Despite the current depressed economic and harsh climatic environments, reasonable progress continues to be made on the collections front, as more customers positively respond to the bank’s call to service their loan accounts.”

    Nghikembua said clients have become increasingly supportive.

    He stressed there is still critical work that remains and this includes reducing arrears to cement sustainability. He said the bank is dealing with loans that have sometimes been arrears for up to 10 or 15 years.

    The bank also took 6 453 farmers and farming employees through its training and mentorship interventions in 2019.

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  • 09/25/19--15:00: Let’s tread carefully
  • Let’s tread carefullyLet’s tread carefully President Hage Geingob was at great pains to stress Namibia’s commitment to protecting the ocean and the country’s fishing sector.

    Speaking at the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy in New York, Geingob said Namibia had committed US$5 million (N$74.3 million) towards ocean research and protection during the 2019/20 financial year, among other moves to ensure the sustainability of the country’s fisheries. This comes amidst growing fears in the country that a proposed phosphate project might receive the green light to start with seabed mining near Walvis Bay. Many are of the opinion that phosphate mining would cause irreversible damage to Namibia's fishing industry, which is a pillar of the country's economy. Geingob recently promised Omani billionaire Mohammed Al Barwani, who is the majority owner of Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP), that there would soon be a final decision on their application for an environmental clearance certificate. This follows a letter in which Al Barwani, whose net worth is believed to be over N$16 billion, expressed concern to Geingob about the delay of the Sandpiper Marine Phosphate Project after its environmental clearance certificate was set aside last year. The Sandpiper Project is located about 120 kilometres southwest of Walvis Bay. Fish exports continue to play a significant role as one of Namibia's major sources of revenue. A Namibia Statistics Agency report for the third quarter of 2018 showed that fish was among the country’s top five commodities, and the only food item among exports that included minerals such as diamonds and precious metals, ores and concentrates. Fish exports generated about N$2.5 billion in the third quarter of 2018, compared to N$2.3 billion over the same period in 2017. These increased by 12% in the third quarter of 2018, compared to the third quarter of 2017, and contributed about 10% of the total export earnings of N$24.3 billion. The report says Namibia exported most of the fish to Spain, and realised N$1.1 billion. There is thus a need to tread carefully.

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  • 09/25/19--15:00: Iipumbu paid for his Porsche
  • Iipumbu paid for his PorscheIipumbu paid for his Porsche On September 12, Namibian Sun reported on a N$4.8 million claim by Agribank against its former CEO, Leonard Iipumbu, for unpaid loans against farmland, as well as a Porsche Cayenne on a staff loan of which just over N$452 000 was outstanding.

    A statement was released on 16 September by Agribank indicating that Iipumbu had in fact paid the full outstanding amount on the staff loan for the vehicle by March 2017.

    Namibian Sun spoke with current CEO Sakaria Nghikembua yesterday, who confirmed that the car loan had been settled. He provided Namibian Sun with documentary evidence from Fisher, Quarmby and Pfeiffer to this effect.

    The firm had issued a letter to Iipumbu in December 2016 regarding the outstanding payment following his departure from Agribank at the end of July that same year.

    The loan was fully settled, according to the law firm, in a letter dated 28 March 2017.

    The error, Nghikembua told Namibian Sun, crept in when the vehicle's loan was included in the documents to the lawyers for the outstanding farm loan balance. An amended particular of claim has been filed in the meantime.

    YANNA SMITH

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    Elephants terrorise irrigation farmElephants terrorise irrigation farm A herd of about 70 elephants invaded the Musese green scheme farm in Kavango West and destroyed an estimated 35 tonnes of wheat.

    According to farm supervisor Severino Sinonge Fafa the elephants entered the farm on Monday evening at around 19:00, after they damaged the fence.

    A visit to the farm yesterday morning revealed damaged wheat crops and fresh elephant dung.

    Fafa said they had to use warning shots and flashlights to scare off the elephants, an exercise which took about six hours.

    “The elephants damaged the fence and entered the farm, where they destroyed about 35 tonnes of wheat crops. We had to chase them out by firing warning shots and using flashlights, and we managed to get them to leave by 01:00 the following day,” Fafa said.

    He described the elephants as aggressive and not easy to chase off.

    “They were very aggressively attacking us. We could have been killed; luckily we all managed to be vigilant,” he said.

    Fafa said elephants invade the farm frequently, saying a 45-hectare maize plantation had also been destroyed by the animals.

    “The farm is invaded every second day by these elephants,” he said. Kavango West governor Sirkka Ausiku, Kavango West Swapo coordinator David Hipulwa Hamutenya, Musese constituency councillor Sakeus Kudumo and environment ministry staff visited the farm on Tuesday to investigate the damage.

    Fafa said they agreed to have an extensive meeting next Tuesday at the farm.





    He expressed concern over the regular elephant invasions, saying jobs are on the line if government does not assist in addressing the issue.

    “If this continues, the farm will make a loss and some of us will lose our jobs. We call on government to help us address this issue, so that we are not thrown into the unemployment pool,” Fafa said.

    Environment ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said the issue of elephants terrorising Musese is not new, as incidents of this nature have occurred in the past and that discussions had taken place.

    Commenting on Monday's incident, Muyunda said they were not well-informed in terms of what had transpired.

    He said the ministry's compensation policy only applied to communal farms and not commercial farms like Musese.

    “The compensation policy only caters for communal areas. What we always encourage is for commercial farmers to put in place measures that will mitigate human-wildlife conflict issues,” he said.

    Muyunda also made reference to the absence of an environment impact assessment (EIA) when the farm was established, something he said could have informed the owner about mitigation measures.

    KENYA KAMBOWE

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