Mayor of Helao Nafidi Eliaser Nghipangelwa says the business community has asked government to introduce an electronic payment system, or alternatively to create a special credit card for Angolan nationals in order to revive business at the border town. These proposals were aired at a meeting with Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein recently.
Nghipangelwa said the town is also expecting delegations from the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, as well as the Finance Ministry, to assess and remedy the situation.
He said the situation is receiving attention and positive support from government and assured residents that the town council is doing its best to normalise the situation. The decline in cross border trade at the town has led to the closure of several shops and many people were also retrenched as a result.
“This is a national issue. It is not a Helao Nafidi issue. The problem is affecting the whole country, because we benefit from the import and export as a country,” said Nghipangelwa.
Oshikango Business Association chairperson Raed Hijazi told New Era recently that 719 Namibians were retrenched. However, the number is said to have increased as more people lost their jobs thereafter. Hijazi expressed concern that businesses are closing down, because of the absence of an easy payment system following the suspension of the currency exchange agreement between the Nambian dollar and Angolan kwanza in December.
Hijazi said one Namibian dollar traded for 9.8 kwanza last June when the agreement was signed, but the kwanza has since depreciated and one Namibian dollar now fetches 25 kwanzas. Currently currency conversions are only being done in Angola.
This, according to Hijazi, has prevented many Angolans from doing business at the border town, as well as elsewhere in the country, as the exchange rate in Angola is extremely high.