Glass Project On the Roll

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK A landmark was reached yesterday, with Namibia’s first ever glass-manufacturing project from waste bottles getting underway in Windhoek. The new glass project initiative comes after the idea was introduced to Prime Minister Nahas Angula in October last year, when various stakeholders and businesses pledged their support for the idea of turning waste into economical value. At the time the Prime Minister was of the opinion that such a development was commendable as it would go a long way in addressing poverty, unemployment among the youth and clearing up the environment that is littered with bottles. Now, six months later the idea to use the latest Swedish-based technology to produce various glass products from used bottles has become a reality. Local students of the John Muafangejo Art Centre (JMAC) showcased the products to the public. Well-known local visual artist Ndasuunje Shikongeni together with his Swedish colleague and founder of the technology Leif Hauge have now started the project of converting used bottles into valuable products that can be sold for a living. A group of six students has been trained so far, while the number would be increased during the next two weeks. Similar training will also be offered in Ondangwa, while interested youngsters will undergo exchange workshops in Sweden at a later stage. The aim is essentially for young people to collect broken beer and soft drink bottles found scattered around the country and turn them into something useful for the community. Launching the project yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture Pohamba Shifeta said such technology should be supported in an effort to not only add value to waste material, but at the same time to provide employment. Sentiments were expressed that such a project will in the long run also rid the country of its dependency on South Africa. Presently, bottles collected locally are normally crushed and exported to South Africa where they are recycled into glass products and then exported back to Namibia. “This is all about how we can stop taking the glass design from South Africa and for the youth it’s all about taking the drink bottles and turning them into something useful,” said the director of JMAC Shikongeni in an interview with New Era yesterday. Seeing that it only requires low-cost gas, it is environmentally friendly and only uses 25 percent of the energy, incentives are there for Namibians to take charge of the project by learning the techniques and training others. Since the project is still in its initial stages, it is expected to branch out at a later stage to local entrepreneurs and the community at large. Training will be held at JMAC, Cosdec and Valom-bola Centre. Main sponsors of the venture are the Namibia Nature Foundation that donated N$160 000, Namibia Breweries N$10 000, Cleaner Production another N$10 000, and the Swedish Development Agen-cy (SIDA) that provided logistical support.