Jindal Group, an Indian firm with interests in steel and energy and an annual turnover of US$3.3 billion (N$45 billion), has expressed interest in investing the equivalent of N$6,2 billion in iron ore production in Namibia that could potentially create thousands of much-needed jobs for locals. Indian High Commissioner to Namibia Kumar Tuhin recently told New Era about the planned investment in the production of iron ore by the Asian iron ore giant in resource-endowed Namibia. “The two countries are working to take the relationship into new areas, especially in the areas of trade and economic, culture, education and human resource development,” Tuhin said. “There is already a very solid foundation, which was led by the leaders of the two countries, starting even before Namibia’s Independence. India was the first country, which gave the Swapo mission in New Delhi the full status of a diplomatic mission. The successive leadership in India and in Namibia has continuously strengthened this foundation. The visit of President Hage Geingob to India in October 2015 and of former President Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2009 added substantive content and salience to the bilateral relationship,” he said.
Currently the two countries enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship in the areas of trade and economics, culture, education and human resource development that has benefitted hundreds of Namibians, who have been sent to India for training on short-term courses.
The largest Indian investment in Namibia is Vedanta Resources that injected close to US$700 million to develop the Scorpion Zinc Mine. The other is GPT, which partnered with TransNamib in an investment worth N$50 million in making railway sleepers at Tsumeb. An Indian company called Strides Pharma also operates in Prosperita in Windhoek and has a medicine packaging plant, while Ankit Gems holds interests in diamond cutting and polishing.
If Jindal’s plans come to fruition its investment will add value to the mining sector that has continued to perform comparatively well, despite the various global headwinds experienced in 2015. In the wake of China’s cooling economy, mining companies worldwide were forced to cut costs, while many were left with little choice but to retrench staff and suspend operations.
According to a statement released by the Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa, some 70 000 jobs were lost in the mining sector across the southern African region since the downturn of commodity prices. Despite the setback, Namibia finds itself in a unique position to reap the fruits of long-term investments, such as the one planned by the Indian steel giant, Jindal.