Financial crisis at the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT)

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Percy McCallum

It is with grave concern that members of the Namibian Uranium Association have learnt of the impending financial crisis at NIMT, which is one of the finest, if not the finest institution for vocational training in Namibia.
Since its inception shortly after Namibian independence, the Namibian mining and exploration sector has supported NIMT tremendously, and in fact it was a major player in the uranium sector, Rössing Uranium, which initiated the establishment of NIMT and covered all the initial costs, before donating the facilities to the Namibian government.

Every year, the uranium industry is supporting NIMT by sponsoring students, and taking large numbers of NIMT students for job attachments. NIMT is famous for the quality of its graduates beyond the borders of Namibia, and recently 200 NIMT graduates have made us proud by building a gold mine in Mali. We consider it therefore as imperative that this excellent facility continues to add value to the Namibian education sector and empower young Namibians with sound professional skills.

The announcement of retrenchments at NIMT will result in a reduction of graduates, and this casts a serious shadow on the ability of the industry to source skilled personnel locally, which in turn has serious implications for the future of the operations. Moreover, it is totally incompatible with everything the Namibian government wants to achieve, including Vision 2030 and the Harambee Prosperity Plan, as it will no doubt reduce the number of young Namibians who get a chance for a decent education.

NIMT finds itself in the precarious financial situation because of a cut of its NTA subsidy. Even before the cut, the N$25 000 that NIMT receives from NTA is in stark contrast to the cost of a student at one of the Government VTCs of approximately N$75 000. NIMT’s real training cost is N$49 000, of which N$16 000 are covered by an NSFAF loan, and N$3 000 are contributed by the student.

This leaves NIMT with a balance of N$30 000, but the reduced NTA subsidy is now only N$22 825, and this results in a loss of N$7 175 per student. This amount needs to be multiplied by an estimated 3 680 trainees. In addition, NIMT had to overcome many challenges for many years under the situation that the NTA subsidies are always paid late, while the expenses obviously occur on a regular basis. This made the establishment of an overdraft facility necessary, and NIMT is wasting valuable funds for servicing the overdraft interest.

The Namibian uranium industry is contributing regularly to Government ‘ s National Training Fund in the form of VET levies, and is aware of the reserves that have accumulated in that Fund to hundreds of millions of Namibian Dollars. May we therefore respectfully request that your good office consider looking into the possibility of utilizing the National Training Fund levies to improve the situation at NIMT and other vocational training centres to avoid retrenchments and down-grading of our skills base for the country. This suggestion is made taking into consideration that we understand that the National Training Fund is earmarked to assist vocational training especially.

Your kind consideration would be highly appreciated. We sincerely hope that we can use our collective wisdom to resolve this untenable situation. Please be assured of our highest consideration at all times.

Sincerely yours
Percy McCallum
Chairperson of the Namibian Uranium Association

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