By Emma Kakololo
Namibia has the potential to manufacture goods such as pencils, fences, and swimming pool and bathing salts, large-scale production of leather goods, mattresses and fuel production from cassava, says a recent study by the Bank of Namibia (BoN).
Other new products the country could also venture into are metal products and auto components, unique wood, palm and clay products, leisure garments, felts (inner pads for jackets) made from wool as well as the large-scale production of hand-woven carpets.
The study that aimed at assessing the potential of the country’s manufacturing sector as well as identify potential products within the manufacturing sector, which would be growth enhancing, found that some key products were not exploited optimally.
“A number of manufactures’ products which could be produced more optimally are tiles and slabs, mineral water bottles, steel windows and door frames, polished diamonds, cheese, marula jam and cereals.”
The report identifies the high input costs, particularly electricity, transport and harbour charges, the availability of quotas for the fishing industry and low “throughput” for the meat processing industry as well as unfair competition from well-established South African companies as maim constraints facing Namibia’s manufacturing sector.
In addition, low levels of labour productivity, coupled with the negative impact of HIV/Aids pandemic on the workforce; the lack of shelf space for Namibian manufacturers in Namibian supermarkets; the low level of branding and marketing of Namibian products; as well as the unavailability of highly skilled professionals, were identified as other constraints that confront the sector.
“In this regard, the problem with importing much needed skills particulary pertaining to the process of acquiring work permits, was significant.
“Thus, plans to establish technology and entrepreneurship centres in the country should be concretised.”