WINDHOEK – The decrease in trade at the once booming border town of Oshikango could pick up only if Namibia could accept the kwanza – the Angolan currency – as legal tender, suggested Namibian businesses that are adversely affected by the decrease.
Local businesses suggest the Namibian financial sector should make room and accept local trade in kwanza and the conversion of the kwanza currency into Namibian dollars inside the country, to help mitigate the shrivelling of the business boom at Oshikango border post.
Angola’s new currency restrictions – which the country adopted as part of International Monetary Fund (IMF) - recommended measures for restoration of stable macroeconomics – have helped to decelerate business growth at the border post that was once Namibia’s buzzing export hub into Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Angola’s economic recovery path from the nearly three decades of civil war has reached a critical point, with the country now in a position to pay attention to issues of infrastructure and legislation that strengthen and protect domestic investments – all which are starting to present serious trade challenges to the region.
Business representative organisation, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), confirmed to New Era that it has recommended to the Bank of Namibia to seriously consider accepting kwanza currency trade in the country.
“This is one of the things that must materialise to help sustain trade at Oshikango,” said NCCI Chief Executive Officer Tarah Shaanika.
At current exchange rate, one US dollar translates into 98 Angolan kwanza, while 60 Angolan kwanza equal N$4,92.
It is not yet clear whether or not the Bank of Namibia has discussed the issue with the Angolan central bank, the National Bank of Angola.
Bank of Namibia did not respond to enquiries at the time of going to print.
New Era reported yesterday [April 23] on massive closure and job losses at Oshikango border post.
This turning point for Namibia was already highlighted by last year’s drastic decision by Angola to ban the import of cement into Angola, a decision which was later relaxed to only allow the all-purpose cement, but still ban special strength cement.
Following in the footsteps of SACU member states such as Namibia, Angola has also banned the importation of second-hand vehicles older than five years, a legislation that has effectively closed vehicle import business at Oshikango.
Angola has pumped millions of US dollars into upgrading and improving efficiency at its ports, especially the Lobito and Luanda ports, which analysts expect to dramatically reduce the flow of goods imported via Walvis Bay to Angola.
Investments in rail the network are another thing that Angola is busy with, with China constructing an ambitious trans-continental railway from Luanda, via Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
“Completion of the project would have serious commercial implications for existing ports from Walvis Bay in Namibia to Mombassa in Kenya and Durban in South Africa,” according to Oxford Analytica daily brief of March 22.