The aggressively promoted upcoming international investment conference, Invest in Namibia 2016, which was launched and marketed by President Hage Geingob in New York on September 22 and again in Johannesburg on October 6, is attracting so much attention that organisers are considering doubling the size of the venue.
The November 8-9 event, which is being organised by the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, initially planned to cater for 500 participants, but the permanent secretary in the trade ministry, Gabriel Sinimbo, yesterday told New Era that significant interest from international investors has led the organisers to consider doubling the size of the venue.
“We were surprised at the excellent turnout (of interested investors) in New York, as well as the impressive turnout in Johannesburg. We have really received a resounding response to date,” said Sinimbo.
He went on to explain that the conference, which was initiated by Geingob to raise the level of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country, is a targeted investment conference, in the sense that the trade ministry has already identified close to 20 projects in specific sectors considered important to the growth of the local economy.
Priority areas identified for investment include manufacturing, land servicing and affordable housing, tourism, transport and logistics, infrastructure development, renewable energy and agriculture.
While admitting that the relatively small Namibian market is not always attractive for investment, Sinimbo encouraged investors to look to the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) market, which has a population of some 280 million people.
“The Port of Walvis Bay and the excellent corridors in Namibia are strategically positioned to give an investor a competitive positioning as a transport hub for all regional and international trade between SADC countries, Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world,” said Sinimbo.
He added that some of the reasons investors are attracted to Namibia include its sound democratic governance architecture, a high degree of political stability, economic stability and consistent growth, a business-friendly environment, market access and external trade relations, as well as the independence of the judiciary.
Simimbi said to further attract investors, government put in place certain incentives, particularly for registered manufacturers that can add value to local products.
These incentives include a special building allowance, a transportation allowance (which offers 25 percent off land-based transport in the country), export promotion allowance, an incentive for training, 50 percent off industrial studies and cash grants that provide 50 percent off the direct costs of approved export promotion activities.
Sinimbo said in January the ministry invited proposals for projects that would be attractive to investors and have the potential to significantly boost the economy.
After over 600 project proposals were received the ministry appointed consultants to identify specific projects with the potential to attract foreign investors.
He said: “Thusfar we’ve identified 19 projects, but this number may still change before the conference,” he said, noting that not all the projects belong to government. Indeed, the majority belong to private individuals and institutions. The project owners will be present at the conference. The ministry will assist and coach private project owners on how to pitch their ideas to the investors.”