Let’s Stop Being Mere Traders

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Namibian businesses have been called upon to change the way they do business, by venturing into manufacturing. By so doing they would benefit from the country’s abundant raw materials and good infrastructure. Having a situation where the country relies heavily on the import and export of raw materials, the country needs a paradigm shift in the way it does business. The prime minister and minister of trade and industry made the joint call for businesses to venture into new business activities that add value to the country’s raw materials. Prime Minister Nahas Angula said although Namibia has potential, it needs to have a mind shift which is in favour of transformation. He was speaking to hundreds of exhibitors, members of the diplomatic corps, ministers and their deputies, counsellors, governors and the public when he opened the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair yesterday. He noted that although small and medium enterprises are the ones that have authentic Namibian products, which would lead to wealth creation and improved economic development, the small businesses face serious constraints to produce competitively. The constraints facing businesses that need to be addressed include knowledge and skills, capital, absence of innovation, transport, communication and also the capacity to mentor and incubate small businesses. Trade and Industry Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko said Namibia could not go on exporting raw materials and importing goods and services for consumption, but should rather seek activities that would add value to the vast natural resources that Namibia is endowed with. “It is therefore critical that our business people be encouraged and supported to diversify their business activities from being mere traders to manufacturers,” he said, adding that manufacturing and value addition remain the only credible strategies that could propel the country’s economic activities to greater heights. “We must remain focused to the needs of our people, more especially the creation of jobs. And it is inconceivable that jobs can be created in an economy where manufacturing does not take place,” the minister said. Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma also reiterated earlier calls to make finished products, which is one way in which the living standards of people could improve. Nujoma said given the necessary support, SMEs could play their role of increasing the growth of the economy. “We must ensure that SMEs embark on innovation to compete in the economy,” Nujoma said. However, Namibia has a number of market opportunities available where it could send its manufactured goods, which include SADC with a 250 million population, SACU with 55 million inhabitants, and Mercosure which comprises Brazil and other Latin American countries. Apart from these, Namibia can also send its products to the European Union market, the Caribbean and Pacific countries and to the Americas, where the country can send 8 000 products on a duty and quota free basis. Angola, Zambia and China are potential markets where Namibia could send its products as well due to the fact that the country has bilateral trade arrangements with the countries. The Ongwediva trade fair, which was established 10 years ago, has this year attracted exhibitors and traders from Indonesia, India, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana and others from throughout Namibia. The biggest delegation from a single country though comes from Limpopo Province in South Africa, led by Collins Chabane, which delegation is in Namibia to scout for business deals.

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