Witvlei a Symbol of Aspiring Blacks

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK A new brand of young black Namibian entrepreneur who’s successfully managed to venture into the much-needed manufacturing industry by securing viable smart business partnerships with international investors, has emerged. Prominent names such as local businessman Sydney Martin and renowned former athletics king Frank Fredericks have boosted the country’s beef exporting industry by finding their own financial resources and partnering with Norwegian counterparts in establishing the Witvlei Meat Abattoir and Meat Processing Plant in Witvlei. Officially opening the plant on Wednesday, President Hifikepunye Pohamba praised the well-known entrepreneurs for their sharp business acumen and foresight and for setting up a unique export producer of Namibian beef. It seems that unlike in the past, more and more aspiring young black businessmen are heeding government’s calls for smart partnerships where both local and foreign investors seek to build the country’s development. The latest joint venture between the three Norwegian partners, namely Fatland Company, Michelson Brothers, the Norwegian Consul in Windhoek and local investors Martin and Fredericks, is seen as a way whereby all stakeholders strive to live up to the country’s ideal of value addition of locally produced goods. Board member of Witvlei Meat, Dr Klaus Endresson, informed New Era that with the long history of these Norwegian companies and high turnover of millions of US dollars “these companies are not fly-by-nights”. Namibia exports most of its cattle stocks on the hoof to South Africa, but with the opening of the Witvlei abattoir, more value will be added to the beef production sector. In April 2001, a consortium tendered to build the abattoir for the amount of N$18-million as a key project with the capacity to slaughter 100-150 cattle. Talking about the history of the abattoir Martin, who is the Executive Chairperson of Witvlei Meat (Pty) Ltd, said that after seeing that the facility was in liquidation two years ago, they grabbed the opportunity with both hands to change the situation for the better. “We applied immediately to take the abattoir over. The process took two years before our application was considered,” said Martin. With the foresight of the Board of Agribank they then signed a lease agreement on August 1 this year with the first right of refusal to buy. Exactly a week after the signing, August 08 2006, the first cattle were slaughtered at the abattoir. A total number of 600 cattle have been slaughtered at the abattoir so far. “Statistics show that the red meat sector is the fastest growing agricultural industry in the world and producers must cash in on this boom. It is expected that this trend will continue until 2020,” said Martin, calling upon commercial and communal farmers to modify their farming methods into a more effective way for their benefit and the country as a whole. Besides the 81workers employed at the abattoir in Witvlei, the re-opening of the abattoir means that farmers will be able to receive net prices for their meat and will save transport costs to and from Windhoek and Okahandja. The Norwegians will also carry out skills and technology know-how transfer to the employed locals and in future are looking into the possibility of processing Namibian meat products at the Witvlei abattoir for the retail market in Norway. The reason why Omaheke Region was chosen to open such a plant is due to the high concentration of cattle farmers in the area.