Foreigners Killing Local Business with Cheap Quality Goods

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK While the Government has created an enabling environment to attract investors into the country, there is a need to reconsider allowing many foreign businesses that seem to infiltrate the fragile economy. Women Action for Development (WAD) Executive Director, Veronica de Klerk, expressed these sentiments during the Karas field day at LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz recently, adding that the current practice is discouraging to young entrepreneurs. Foreign traders in Namibia are increasingly posing a challenge to the local efforts aimed at reducing poverty in rural areas. One such challenge is the stiff competition faced by small businesses. Recently, renowned businessman, Dr Frans Oupa Indonga, warned that these foreign business people are killing local businesses with their mass-produced yet sub-standard or cheap-quality goods with which they flood the market. “I fully subscribe to these sentiments of Dr Indongo that Namibian markets are awash with those very poor quality products with which local products simply cannot compete,” said De Klerk. She reiterated that it is discouraging to especially rural people contemplating starting up a business or any income-generating venture, as they cannot compete in the pricing with cheap imports. She further described this situation as serious, fast-growing, and unchecked. “The consequences of this situation are that poverty is simply grossly aggravated, while one after the other local business, which provided jobs to the unemployed people before, is forced to close down. This is unfair competition with dire social consequences for the poor,” she added. Apart from this problem, Namibian businesses are still suffering from the “import syndrome” mainly regarded as the least cumbersome option. This “import syndrome” which is prevalent in the country will, according to De Klerk, only be broken if imported articles are heavily taxed to discourage local businesses from seeing it as a viable option. However, the birth of local industries can only gain momentum if the people are trained to produce articles themselves and are protected from foreign competition until they are well established. “If our leaders display the political will and if our entrepreneurs would demonstrate a shift in mindset, the birth of local industries will happen faster than what we have anticipated,” De Klerk stated. Meanwhile, WAD in its quest to fight poverty through empowering rural women, recently concluded the training of 478 families at LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz in the hygienic use of flush toilets, the maintenance thereof and the technical part of it. This was done during the Awareness-raising Campaign on how communities can benefit through the Rural town Sewerage Schemes of the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development. An additional 94 students received training in different fields such as Computer Literacy, Typing and Office Administration, Needlework and the use of Femidoms. The population of the Karas region today stands at 70ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000, with 32ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 of the population being female. With the high unemployment rate in the country, the mayor of the Karas Region, Emilia Amupewa, says this training was a welcome venture in her region where the highest population age is between 15 and 59. With the skills acquired, beneficiaries will be able to search for employment in different fields. Knowledge about HIV/AIDS will also enable the young people to make informed decisions as they protect themselves and join hands to fight the spread of this worldwide plague.