Countdown to Otjinene Expo starts May 1 … Final gala dinner on April 28

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Windhoek-The clock in the last lap towards the annual Otjinene Expo literally started ticking with the first of two gala dinners to raise funds on Friday in Windhoek.

The third edition of the expo takes place on May 1-6. But with only week to go important and relevant offices, ministries and agencies (OMAs) are thus far conspicuously absent from the list of exhibitors, chair of the expo, Nathanael Karuaihe, cannot help but note worryingly.

He says a ministry such as Home Affairs and Immigration can benefit very much from the expo, Otjinene being one of the peri-urban centres in the country that very much uses its services such as identity documents and death certificates provision. Another ministry which is crucial to the expo is the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development in view of the fact that among the exhibitors are SME operators who very much could benefit from the services of this ministry but very much need their backing in exhibiting at the expo. But for some non-understandable reasons have since been absent after attending the inaugural edition.

The absence of some OMAs notwithstanding, those linked to the expo are determined that there’s no turning back on this path embarked upon, the ultimate of which is Otjinene as one of the hubs of growth and development in the Omaheke Region. None could have been more pursuant and resolute to this push than chairperson of Otjinene Village Council, Landine Kauta. At the rate at which the push for development has been going on she says the village no longer deserves the status of a village but a town. And given its location of a four-way stop when coming from Gobabis, Okakarara, Gam and Epukiro, there’s no stopping this push.

“This is done with the view to bring about glory days to Otjinene so that the constituency can become the investment hub of the region due to its strategic location and being one of the fast-growing constituencies in the region,” Otjinene Constituency Councillor Erwin Katjizeu joins the chorus in the drive of Otjinene towards economic well-being and sustainability, explaining the instrumentality of Otjiene Expo to this drive. But equally central and instrumental in this drive, and through the expos, is businesses, especially the ones operating in and around Otjinene.

“I trust that businesses will make their presence felt and take advantage of the opportunities that the expo will offer. We need to build on the opportunities created during the expo,” he emphasizes, appealing same to businesses. But most importantly, Katjizeu accentuates the strategic location of Otjinene. “A good area for agriculture and also serving as a gateway to the northern and northeastern parts of our country, connecting Namibia to neighbouring landlocked countries through the Trans Kalahari Highway,” he echoes-support to the village council chairperson.

“As a bank we are committed growing the vibrant business sector of Otjinene and the entire Omaheke Region as well,” Standard Bank’s Gobabis branch manager, Ngahupe Veii, joins the push. Pointing out the importance of expos to the business sector, he says they open doors for them to grow their trade network but equally important “leads to developing the local economy and ultimately creates the much needed jobs for the local people.” Standard Bank, that has been with the expo since its birth in 2016, has been the main sponsor throughout, benefitting it with N$50,000 this year. Concluding the drive, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, Daniel Nghidinua, on behalf of minister Peya Mushelenga, crowns it all saying such an expo is not an end in itself but “important means to an end, to create visibility and mutually beneficial networking and partnership linkages”. Such hold immense benefits to the village council and its inhabitants. Crucially the expo is expected to result in attracting businesses to invest and/or do business in Otjinene.

“Such investment and business activities will boost and stimulate economic development and growth in Otjinene and the surrounding areas,” Nghidinua says. But most notable is the presence or expansion of businesses that after establishing the potential of the market will be enticed to establish or expand in the area in the supply of goods and services.

Organiser Mbamundjamo Kaahangoro says although the gala dinner in Windhoek was beyond their expectations raising N$120,000 in pledges, this is below their budget of N$500,000. Although the gala dinner in Otjinene this weekend may not make up the shortfall, they nevertheless expect it to substantially narrow the shortfall.

The Central North Regional Electricity Distributor (Cenored), Social Security Commission and Dunamis are among the corporations still expected on board. Mobile Telecommunications (MTC), Agribank, Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco), Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Marley Tjitjo Architects, WinPlan, WCE and Ndakalimwe Investments are already on board. Pledges on the night included the Urban and Rural Development Ministry of N$10,000.

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