ORANJEMUND – Besides dealing with aging infrastructure that was installed close to 80 years ago, the recently proclaimed town of Oranjemund is eager to attract investors specifically in tourism.
According town mayor, Councillor Henry Coetzee, Oranjemund is an attractive investment destination due to its low or virtually non-existent crime rate, affordable land, currently selling at N$45 per square metre, unique weather and wildlife.
Coetzee said the town was already in discussions with some South African investors who are considering building a lodge, hotel and an internationally recognised golf course.
“We also see tourism as an alternative source of revenue to mining and look forward to the development of the Kudu Gas Project,” he said on Thursday last week during a briefing session with Namdeb Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi, and New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC) CEO, Dr Audrin Mathe.
Oranjemund was initially established as a diamond-mining town by diamond mining giant De Beers and was subsequently taken over by Namdeb in a joint venture between De Beers and the Namibian government. It was declared a town in 2011.
According to figures from the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), the 2011 Population and Housing Census shows that the town has a population of about 9 000 people although Coetzee believes this figure could be higher.
The town was initially built to accommodate about 12 000 people in terms of available infrastructure and services but because diamond-mining operations are still on going around the town, strict access control is still in place.
Namdeb still pays for all water and electricity services in Oranjemund, a situation Coetzee said will change in the near future as water and electricity metres were still being installed.
Namdeb employees do not pay for accommodation as about 99 percent of the houses in the town belong to Namdeb. “As long as Namdeb is here we at least have a solid customer in terms of rates and taxes,” Coetzee said.
The Mayor disclosed that the town’s first mall is expected to be built during the first half of 2015, adding that the town council expects to service additional land next year to accommodate more houses.
“We recently advertised 28 plots and we received more than 200 applications, giving you some indication of the need for housing,” said Coetzee.
He admitted that housing was one of the challenges faced by the Oranjemund Town Council and appealed to investors to consider building modern apartments to cater for the continuous influx of young professionals working for Namdeb.
“These young professionals do not necessarily want to buy a house here as they might only be here for a few years,” he explained.
This past weekend, Coetzee also presided over a site handover for the construction of services for the first phase in Extension 4A that will provide new residential plots with water, electrical, sewage and pump station services.
“The tender was awarded in October this year for an amount of N$5.1 million as part of the Town Council and central government’s effort to address housing and infrastructure development,” said Coetzee.
Meanwhile, the Town Council is also working on the establishment of a long-distance taxi rank and is in discussion with the Namibia Ports Authority for the construction of a port, which Coetzee said would be good for employment creation.
During the discussions, Namdeb’s Zaamwani-Kamwi said the influx of people would only be a positive development for the economy, if new and existing residents were gainfully employed.
Commenting on the latest developments and aspirations for Oranjemund, NEPC’s Dr Mathe said exposure was important for the development of the town.
Mathe pledged the NEPC’s support by partnering with the town council in terms of exposure of the annual Diamond Festival and marketing of the town’s future development.
By Edgar Brandt