By William J. Mbangula ONDANGUA Trade fairs should devise mechanisms that will encourage the business community to adopt new ways of thinking with a view to add more value to products. The Minister of Trade and Industry Immanuel Ngatjizeko made this comment when he officially opened the first ever Ondangwa Trade Fair on behalf of President Hifikepunye Pohamba recently. “We must guard against what is commonly known as the digital divide between the northern and southern hemispheres which is characterised by superior technology innovation in the north as opposed to inferior and outdated technology in the south. “If the situation is perpetrated, our chances of being equal trading partners in the world will be a lost opportunity. Namibia should therefore strive to make use of the new technology in order to advance our economic growth agenda,” said the minister. He also noted Vision 2030 would become a distant dream in the absence of increased entrepreneurial activity in the Namibian economy. The Namibian vision to achieve the status of an industrialized nation by the year 2030 is informed by the need to increase the processes of industrialisation. To this end, he added, Namibia will need a new breed of entrepreneurs who possess a zest for business and the right technological know-how in order to kick-start new innovative projects. “My ministry has embarked upon some initiatives that would ultimately address some of the problems experienced by the SMEs as well as to address the limiting factors contributing to the current slow process of cultivating new entrepreneurs,” he said. Some of the initiatives are: – The Ministry has launched a new booklet titled: “A guide to entrepreneurial development.” This booklet has been translated in local languages in order to solicit as wide a readership as possible. Such a booklet is expected to go a long way in addressing some of the problems with regard to entrepreneurship in the country. – The Ministry is improving other important services that it provides to the business people as well as modernizing some of the legal instruments to bring service delivery on par with the level of ambitions as well as to meet the high standards of best practice worldwide. In this regard, the SME’s will be reshaped to make it more responsive to the needs of the sector. – The Small Credit Business Guarantee Trust is also being transformed into an independent micro-finance institution, with added financial products. – The Ministry has positively responded to the needs of business by recruiting consultants in all thirteen regions to deal with issues of feasibility studies, business plans, management training and all other related needs of SMEs in the different regions. -The Ministry has successfully opened regional offices in all thirteen regions and the one for Oshana Region is located in Ondangwa. – The Ministry is currently busy devising and implementing what will be known as the Namibia Bureau of Standards (NBS) with the aim to ensure that Namibian products meet international standards both for local and international consumption. In the Minister’s view the level of productivity in Namibia’s industries needs to be addressed since productivity is one of the most important components of any successful business. If a business is unproductive, he said, then quite obviously its long-term survival cannot be guaranteed. This is so because the marketplace is a competitive and dynamic one, and only those companies and businesses than can deliver efficiently and effectively products and services to the marketplace will stand a chance to survive. “To this end the issue of quality becomes central. On average, consumers would buy those products that can best provide satisfaction over and above other products that are of inferior quality. It is therefore a challenge of all businesses to ensure that those products and services that you offer the customer are of the highest quality. Again, access to world markets is guaranteed only by offering products and services that compare well with the best in the world.” The Minister bemoaned the discriminatory procurement fashion of local retail and distribution networks, which are more interested in imported products. ” May I call upon those guilty of not supporting our efforts to industrialise to rethink their strategy in favour of common purpose and patriotism. If you are committed to the development of Namibia, as I suppose, it is wise for your supermarket shelves to be filled with local produce, especially where required standards quantities are met, and the needed logistics are in place, “the Minister advised. The event was attended by amongst others the Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture Pohamba Shifeta, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy Henock Ya Kasita, the governor of Ohangwena Region Usko Nghaamwa and of Oshana Region Clemens Kashuupulwa, the mayors of Eenhana, Helao Nafidi and Ongwediva, and the King of Ondonga Immanuel Kauluma Elifas, as well as his Senior Headman Shilongo Uukule who delivered a motivational speech. Addressing the same event the Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Kazenambo Kazenambo pledged his Ministry’s full support for the Ondangwa Trade Fair. “The effort which Ondangwa is doing should not be seen as negative competition, but should be welcomed as progressive and positive efforts at broadening and consolidating the marketing and promotion of our northern towns which were locked outside the mainstream of business trading activities during the colonial days. I therefore cherish this trade fair by congratulating the organisers, the business people and those who spared some time from their busy schedules to attend this trade fair,” said Kazenambo. About 10 000 people visited the fair. Among the 200 exhibitors who participated were some prominent ones such as Nored electricity, FNB, DHL, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Trees of the World, Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Chempaints, Nam-mic, Trustco, Standard Bank, Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Bank Windhoek, BH Spares, Telecom, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Electro Amwele, Glory Computer Communications, RDC Ongwediva, Le Morgan, Valombola Vocational Training Centre, Kotoka Investment cc, JCC, One Cell, Pelican Hair and Beauty Shop and Komeho Namibia. Most of the other exhibitors were She’s. There were also exhibitors from foreign countries such as two from Zimbabwe and one from South Africa. According to the Manager of Local Economic Development and Tourism in the Ondangwa Town Council Ismael Namugongo, also the event spokesperson, the trade fair was a resounding success, which exceeded expectations, as many exhibitors had the opportunity to showcase their products. The event which was mainly sponsored by Namibia Beverages and held at the Eudafano Women Co-operative Centre near Ondangwa Airport from April 26 – 30 had some entertaining and competitive activities such as the cultural groups of which Nambula dhAmukatha was the overall winner followed by Patrick Lungada, all from the Omusati Region. Soini Ndjambula won the beauty contest of Miss Ondangwa with lots of prizes funded by Kapia Optics, Oshana Pharmacy, Pick ‘n Pay and many others. Kandjengo Traditional Outfit won the best exhibitor prize of N$ 300.00 with the second prize taken by Onankali Women Papermaking project, sponsored by the NCCI Northern Branch.
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