The Namibian Retail Charter (NRC), which many regard as an essential policy to transform the retail sector to the benefit of locally produced goods, is expected to be signed in September this year and will only expire in the year 2030. The NRC entails aspects such as sourcing from local manufacturers, increased awareness and demand for local goods, training and mentoring of previously disadvantaged Namibians, support programs for Small and Medium Enterprises as well as opportunities for local ownership and control.
According to the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Immanuel Ngatjizeko, the problem which has undermined market access for locally produced goods and services to date, particularly into the retail sector, is that the economy requires structural reform. “Poor links between manufacturers, distributors and retailers is one of the striking constraints to growing productive capacity and the subsequent consumption of locally manufactured goods,” said Ngatjizeko while addressing the Annual General Meeting of Team Namibia at a local hotel in Windhoek yesterday. The theme of Team Namibia’s AGM was ‘Local Procurement: A catalyst for Growth at Home’. “Given the small size of our domestic market it is imperative for Namibia, through this ministry, to consolidate existing foreign markets as well as to seek and negotiate for new ones,” he said.
Growth in the retail sector is also addressed in the fourth National Development Plan (NDP4) which targets a 20 percent increase in the shelving of Namibian products on our retail shelves. Ngatjizeko added that Namibia is a net food importing country of most consumer and industrial goods, with a sparsely distributed population that has access to a diverse array of goods and services, efficient distribution networks with vertically integrated operations, and convenient shopping malls in most of urban towns. “Retail activities make it possible for producers of goods to connect them to the consumers. An efficient distribution system allows for various economic activities to take place, especially the linkages created down and up-stream, as well as the consolidation of value chains. A very efficient distribution network does exist, but the problem is that domestic goods are mostly not part of supply chains,” lamented Ngatjizeko.
He elaborated that one of the aspects that has emerged is the displacement of the small artisanal bakeries, florists, butcheries and small family-owned mini markets. “This is replacing domestic productive capacity with imports from elsewhere by foreign retail chains. This has resulted in reduced participation of Namibians in the retail sector and its supply chains and the crowding out of local products”, warned Ngatjizeko.
He continued that being part of the global trading community and a participant in the trade liberalisation processes, Namibia cannot stop foreign products from entering the local market. “The only effective defence we can deploy to mitigate economic marginalisation is by proving to our consumers that Namibian industries do produce good, safe, high quality, cost-effective and thus competitive products. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that we make use of and support vehicles like Team Namibia to educate our people on what Namibia produces; promote local procurement and consumption to grow the national economy further,” concluded Ngatjizeko.