President Hage Geingob recently signed into law a provision that would reserve specific sectors for Namibians. The Namibia Investment Promotion Act, which Geingob signed on Friday, would reserve business activities, such as take-way businesses, street vending, hairdressing, beauty salons, catering and retail to Namibians.
“The Act will give the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development the option, in the interest of national security and the public interest, to reserve certain sectors for certain categories of investors, or for the State or Namibians,” Geingob said.
The new Act would also introduce the concept of performance agreements – if deemed appropriate – enabling a minister to sign performance agreements with investors.
The Act would further provide for dispute resolution mechanisms involving investors.
President Geingob explained that there is no need for foreigners to do jobs that Namibians can do and that the new law protects both small and medium enterprises and the inhabitant of the country.
The Namibia Investment Promotion Act was signed into law by Geingob, along with the new Anti-Corruption Amendment Act and the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) Act.
The idea of reserving certain economic sectors for locals was first mooted in the 2014 Swapo election manifesto. Swapo party secretary general Nangolo Mbumba at the time stressed that each administration and the State in general has a duty to protect its people.
Observers have since welcomed the idea, but noted that its success will depend on the ability of Namibians to develop and grow these sectors.
President Geingob also dismissed speculative talk that the idea of the Investment Promotion Act was copied from Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, which compels foreign firms to sell controlling stakes to Zimbabweans.
Geingob made it clear that the clause in the long-awaited Namibia Investment Promotion Act dealing with reserving specific industries for locals cannot be compared to the Zimbabwean law, as they are not at the same scale.
Geingob described the signing of this specific law as a sentimental one for him, as he vividly recalls the extensive groundwork that was done during his tenure as minister of trade and industry.
The new Act also provides, amongst other things, for the promotion of sustainable economic development policies and growth through resource mobilisation.
It also deals with the attraction of foreign and domestic investment to enhance economic development, reduce unemployment, accelerate growth, diversify the economy and provides for clear dispute resolution mechanisms involving investment.
The Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) Act seeks to establish BIPA as “the focal point for registration of business and industrial property and for the administration and protection of business and intellectual property”.
On the Anti-Corruption Amendment Act, Geingob indicated that it would empower the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to implement its mandate with greater effectiveness and scope.
Two amendments were made to the Act to substitute the naming convention of the director to director general and the deputy director to deputy director general, respectively, as well as providing for the appointment of a permanent secretary for the ACC.
The Head of State added that the change is aimed at giving the leadership of the ACC greater executing powers, which will allow them to carry out their mandates more effectively.
“All these three Acts are very important to the successful implementation of the Harambee Prosperity Plan,” Geingob said.