By Hoandi !Gaeb Windhoek Trade and Industry Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko says the Hardap Region has immense developmental capacity and branches of commercial banks should provide loan facilities in order to benefit more people in the region. In a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Bernhardt Esau, the minister said commercial banks through this action will encourage more business development, job creation and poverty reduction. The minister was speaking at the official inauguration of the Mariental Industrial Park at the town yesterday. He said the time has come for all stakeholders to jointly look at ways to encourage further business development and expansion in the Hardap Region. To this end, he said, the local and regional authorities must assist government. “One of the ways in which the local authorities can assist is by making serviced land available at competitive rates for investment in the town of Mariental. There are a number of other incentives that could be developed to attract investment,” the minister said. He noted that the Hardap Region has great potential for the production of fruit and vegetables. “The region has enough water resources to expand and diversify the agricultural output in the area. “Because so much is already produced, the region ought to be able to move towards value addition with less effort than the rest of the country. I am thinking here of the development of dimension stone, the making of clay bricks, the expansion of the diary industry and its diversification into goat milk and cheese production,” the minister said. The Mariental SME Park that was inaugurated yesterday has seven units. There is a coffin manufacturer and joiner, a metal worker, a general farm implements supplier and repairer and a trader in agricultural goods. Ngatjizeko said his ministry would like the people of the Hardap Region to use the facilities and skills available on a larger scale. The minister at the same occasion announced that a new satellite office of the Ministry of Trade and Industry was now open at Mariental. This means that his ministry is represented in all 13 regions of the country. Ngatjizeko challenged the Hardap Regional Council and the Mariental Town Council to approach his ministry for more developmental assistance. “We stand ready to look at and engage you in further investments under the Sites and Premises programme,” he stated. At the same occasion, Esau expressed disappointment over the low turnout of Mariental residents to the inaugural ceremony, saying that people should have come in large numbers to listen to the minister, as the announcements made would assist in the reduction of poverty. “Given the fact that unemployment is rife in the country, this gathering should have been jam packed,” he said. The deputy minister emphasised the importance of diversification as a new approach. “The Head of State, President Hifikepunye Pohamba emphasised diversification of business ventures, so did former President Sam Nujoma. Our minister is also talking about diversification,” said Esau, encouraging Namibians to diversify. Hardap regional Governor Katrina Hanse at the same occasion promised that her council would do everything possible to bring development to the region. She called on the residents to guard the property jealously.
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