The Erongo regional leadership remains optimistic about the proposed N$8 billion Desert Rose real estate project to be constructed between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.
Speaking during a consultative meeting where he addressed various stakeholders on Friday, Governor of the Erongo Cleophas Mutjavikua said the final environmental impact assessment of the project has been submitted to the environmental commissioner for consideration and approval.
“As the regional leadership we’re still optimistic that we’re doing the right thing for our region in terms of enhancing tourism impact and to establish our country as world-class brand in that new industry,” Mutjavikua said.
However, the proponents of the project have been heavily criticised for the proposed plan, with some coastal residents arguing that the project would disturb the sensitive coastal environment, as it would be a beachfront facility.
The proposed site is a 5 km stretch of beach between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, commonly known as ‘Vierkantklip’, a very popular site for angling, walking, swimming and private functions.
Environmentalists have also expressed concern that the project may harm the breeding grounds of rare native birds and other flora that are unique to the area.
The proposed site is also within the protected Dorob National Park and talk is rife that the area may be de-proclaimed and ownership transferred to the shareholders of the project, or to the council.
It has been promised by the developers that the beach areas would remain open for public access. The regional council says the investment could create 5 000 new jobs.
Desert Rose will feature a convention and exhibition centre with hotel facilities, supported by secondary entertainment facilities, a shopping centre, office park, restaurants, low- and high-density accommodation, residential properties, a golf course and public beaches.
Financial projections indicate that the Namibia International Convention and Exhibition Centre (NICC) – as it would be known – could contribute N$455 million to the Namibian economy in its first year (2017) of its existence and N$4.5 billion over five years.
In its second year of existence the NCCI could contribute over N$2 billion, the developers say. In the first two years, the project would create 715 jobs per year, increasing to 884 once it becomes operational.
The NICC project is being developed by Sand Rose Investments, whose shareholders include prominent businessmen Desmond Amunyela, Lazarus Jacobs, Nardo Sardinha and Paulo Coimbra.