‘Local Manufacturing Needs Catalyst’

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Pewa Investments is about to enter a phase of growth after realising that the production of goods in volumes is the only way a company can become competitive. In the near future, the company that has been in the manufacturing business for 18 months, plans to produce tens of thousands of products per production. Pewa Manufacturers, which is owned by Pewa Investments and is one of the three local manufacturers of beauty and hair products, has increased its production from 200 to 6 000 units per production, every three months. But in the near future, Pewa Managing Director Twapewa Mundjanima said, the company will start producing 20 000 products per production in order to become more competitive. The company’s range of products includes oil moisturiser for men and women, hair braid spray with manketi oil, raw ontanga oil, body mayonnaise with marula oil and petroleum jelly with ontanga oil. In a country that is dominated by goods manufactured from elsewhere, Mundjanima feels that government policies are the only ones that would save the local manufacturers of various goods, without which more companies would become cash-strapped and close down. The market looks harsh for Namibian manufacturers because there is no ownership. Pewa, which has been in business for a number of years as an investment company, finds it tough to penetrate the market through retailers, the majority of which are foreign owned. “Mainstream retailers are reluctant to work with us,” she said, adding that even with the South African Bureau of Standards’ approval and having a bar code, it remains difficult to get shelf space. So far, a few retail stores and pharmacies sell her products, with the largest distributors being self-employed women, mainly in the northern areas of the country. “Everything needs government intervention. We are not saying the government should give free things but it should act as a catalyst for the growth of the manufacturing sector by coming up with laws that are supportive,” she said. Even though multi-national companies including chain retail stores bring foreign direct investment into the country, the companies do not grow the economy. At the Bank of Namibia Annual Symposium last month, several speakers said local economic growth attracted foreign direct investment and not vice versa. With the unemployment rate staggering at more than 35 percent, Mundjanima said, adding value to local raw materials locally would help employ more people. “We need to create jobs here by assembling and making the products here, unlike bringing in finished goods,” she added. The beauty sub-sector generated N$235 million in 2004 and 2005, most of which is repatriated and helps create jobs elsewhere because the majority of beauty and hair products are not manufactured locally, she said. Mundjanima said she has noticed that the support to small and medium enterprises is generic and does not take into account the needs of the different entrepreneurs. To change the situation, she suggested that the banks, financing institutions and decision-makers embark on a consultative process with entrepreneurs to find out what their needs are. “This should be done sooner than later, failing which they will come back to the drawing board at a time when we should be making progress,” she added.