TSUMEB – An economic mind shift, along with new development projects in and around the Oshikoto Region, has again propped up the prospects of the northern town of Tsumeb as a destination of choice for many investors.
Traditionally a mining town, Tsumeb has gone through and survived many economic downturns in the past 100 years.
The ‘mind shift’ was based on the realisation that the future of the town could no longer be reliant solely on mining activities, said the town’s chief executive officer Archie Benjamin.
“The economic structure of the town was imbedded within the prevailing mining activities for the past 50 years. Hence it was imperative for the leadership, supported by the business sector and the entire community, to institute an economic mind shift,” said Benjamin.
The latest business projects in the offing at the town include the Namibia Custom Smelters operations, the soon-to-be-completed Tsumeb/Katwitwi road construction project and other micro-industrial initiatives taking place at the town.
Benjamin says the town council developed a growth strategy based on the town’s competitive advantages. Those advantages are the abundant underground water resources, excellent infrastructure, the transport corridors passing through the town, the agricultural potential of the surrounding farms and excellent educational facilities.
The strategic plan, developed in 2000, is reviewed every five years with specific objectives based on the strengthening of the town’s economy through increased ownership by locals, the promotion of diverse industries and increased visibility of the town by promoting public-private partnerships and a conducive economic environment.
Benjamin says the town has achieved significant growth as a result of the reopening and further expansion of the Namibia Custom Smelters, the establishment of the Ohorongo cement factory near Otavi, the construction of the Katwitwi-Nkurenkuru-Mupungu road network, as well as the growth and demand for educational excellence provided by local training institutions such NIMT and COSDEC.
“The improved commercialisation of the surrounding farming activities, especially the export of vegetable and fruits; the diversification of the economy through the establishment of shopping centres; tourism, accommodation and entertainment centres, as well as the servicing of land acquired from the mine also made a positive impact on our growth statistics,” said Benjamin.
A number of jobs were also created at the town through the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG). TIPEEG created almost 100 jobs for the tarring of a one-kilometre road and the installation of pre-paid water meters for about 300 households, as well as the construction of toilets for households in previously neglected suburbs.
The town’s Tupperware reservoir will also be rehabilitated through TIPEEG intervention. Damage to the reservoir has inhibited the municipality’s ability to store sufficient water in order to ensure availability of water even in cases of major pipe bursts, or pump station breakdowns.
A Tsumeb resident, Sammy Namaseb, says he is “happy that TIPEEG also made a stop in Tsumeb – the first time I heard about TIPEEG was when I visited the north and the Erongo Region. I was wondering how it could pass through Oshivelo without stopping in our town. Now we are happy that government directed the programme to us as well.”
Benjamin said there are other approved major investment projects in the pipeline such as the development of an industrial estate by the Namibia Development Corporation at an estimated cost of N$100 million, including a multi-mall complex and the second phase of a multi-complex warehousing project.
The Tsumeb airport runway extension and resurfacing project is also on the cards whereas the newly-upgraded airport terminal building will soon be in use.
In addition, the Namibia Customs Smelters has plans to construct houses for 65 employees and a private developer wants to set up a residential area for high-income groups next to the town’s airport.