Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Luderitz Nest Hotel wins another award in 2014

At the recent prestigious 3rd annual Namibia Ultimate Establishment Challenge, hosted by the Namibian Chefs Association (NCA), the independently owned and managed four star Luderitz Nest Hotel was narrowly voted into third place by two major group hotels: Sun International’s Kalahari Sands (1st place) and the Hilton Windhoek (2nd place) to receive the UEC Bronze Award. Only one point separated the top 3!
Individual teams from the hospitality sector consist of four members, of which two make up the service team and the other two make up the kitchen team. Each establishment chooses and creates their own special menu with ingredients that have a Namibian flavour. Due to the abundance of wonderful seafood on its doorstep in Luderitz, the Luderitz Nest Hotel was the only entrant to serve a delicious seafood dish.

Two well known judges from South Africa; Richard Pearce and Nicholas Froneman, flew in to judge the competitors.
Prestigious awards received by the *Nest Hotel* in 2014 include: PMRafrica Diamond Arrow Award for TOP RESORT HOTEL 2013 - PMRafrica Silver Award for Leading Weddings Venue – State President’s SNIEDA Award for Capacity Building and most recently, the UEC Bronze Award!

News from Hotel Thule Windhoek, Namibia

Early Bird Breakfast Early Bird Breakfast
Coming early from the airport? Let your group enjoy breakfast with us, while they wait for their rooms to get ready.
Venison Buffet
We offer a buffet dinner with typical Namibian Cuisine for 12 people or more.
Served on the terrace and in the Restaurant during winter time. We make fire every night to enjoy the view in a cozy atmosphere.

Holiday of a lifetime in Namibia

Namibia might not seem like the most obvious holiday destination for most Brits, but it's actually a favourite cruise destination amongst discerning international travellers. A Royal Caribbean African tour package includes a stay in Lüderitz, a small Namibian harbour town and also allows you to take in Zanzibar. A cruise to Namibia promises you breathtakingly awesome views, magical experiences and memorably luxurious accommodation.
African Adventures
It's not all about relaxation, though. If you're interested in sport, a trip to Namibia is the ideal way to indulge your passion. Whether your thing is extreme sports, swimming or even winter sports, there's something here for you in Namibia. For amazing adventures, why not head to Swakopmund, on the Atlantic Ocean? Swakopmund is a stunning desert location where you can enjoy a wealth of extreme sports, including quad-biking, sand boarding and even sky-diving.
Walkers and ramblers will enjoy the chance to cross the desert on foot. To test yourself to the limit, there are extreme trekking tours which take you through high dunes and the central plateau, ending in the famously barren Kalahari Desert. Walking through the African deserts, you'll get to see the enormous game reserve at the Etosha National Park and may even have the chance to spot a black rhino, one of the rarest species on earth. Twyfelfontein is also among the wonders which you can experience if you choose a desert trekking trip. Namibia's answer to Stonehenge, Twyfelfontein is an incredible work of art, dating from the Stone Age and set in the midst of the African desert.
Things to see and do
The wonders of the Namib desert are at your fingertips in this incredible location. While horse-riding and pony trekking is immensely popular in this part of Africa, there are unique opportunities for you to experience things you'd never see at home. In Namibia you can ride on the back of an elephant or even experience the magic of the African desert whilst sitting atop a camel. An elephant ride will show you beautiful sites including the incredible Skeleton Coast. Why not try out Namibia's alternative safari experience on horseback; this incredible trip will enable you to see elephants, rhinos, cheetahs and plains game at close quarters. There's even something for the little ones here, with Zesel trekking trips proving a favourite with younger travellers. A Zesel is a cross between a donkey and a zebra, and is perfect for kids to ride along the desert.
Indulgent Breaks
For those who prefer a little more luxury, A short stay in this South West African country is the ideal way to indulge and recharge your batteries. Namibia has some stunning resorts, and is also known for its health spas. Favourite luxury locations in Namibia include the Mowani Mountain Camp. Here you can enjoy all the beauty of the African landscape without compromising on comfort. High on the rocky mountains of Mowani, this resort is no ordinary campsite. The Mowani Mountain promises fully equipped luxury tents with en-suite facilities and luxurious bedding. These exquisite tents really are the best way to make the most of the African experience. You can enjoy the calm of a Namibian night and listen to the sounds of the native animals, whilst being assured of comfort and safety.
Other top accommodation options in Namibia include the Lake Oanob Resort, in Rehoboth. Although this is little more than a glorified campsite, the resort is the ideal way to enjoy the African night, sleeping out under the stars. If camping isn't for you, then fear not; the Lake Oanab Resort also has a number of well-equipped luxury self-catering chalets. There is also an à la carte restaurant at the resort, so you can sit out and enjoy the breathtaking views of the savannah whilst savouring a delicious meal and a glass of fine wine.
There's something for you in Namibia; whether you're after a relaxing break with plenty of sunshine or a gruelling adventure experience, you'll find it here. A cruise is the ultimate way to see the best of this stunning country, as well as enjoying some of the other delights which Africa has to offer. Alternatively, if you want to go straight to your destination, you can fly direct to Windhoek or Ondangwa from many of the world's major airports. However you choose to travel, make sure you spend plenty of time here to make sure you see as much as possible of this beautiful, culturally rich travel destination.

Upgrade of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge rooms

01 April - 15 July 2014
The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has agreed on the above dates with their contractors / designers to complete the upgrade of all 72 Victoria Falls Safari Lodge rooms. During this exercise all rooms will have the current wooden doors and shutters removed and replaced by aluminium / glass sliding doors with an insect screen and curtains as installed in the Victoria Falls Safari Club. The deluxe and standard rooms will have the bath tubs removed and replaced by walk-in rainfall showers. Suite bathrooms will retain the bath tubs and will also have walk-in rainfall showers added. All bathrooms will be re-tiled. In the bedrooms soft furnishings will be in neutral and earth colours which together with the glass doors will help to bring in more light into the rooms.

There will be some minimal disruptions to normal operations of course, but with a carefully planned programme and constant communications with guests - little, if any of the work will impact negatively.

Their Group Operations Manager, Brian Gardiner, will personally oversee the entire project. There will be constant interaction with guests to inform, update and address any concerns and queries that may arise, and this will be dealt with by Brian and his team on the ground.

News from Mowani & Camp Kipwe - desert elephants tours

Enjoying the Rain at Mowani Mountain Camp & Camp Kipwe
We have not experienced a good rainy season in the last 3 years, however, the drought has finally passed and we have enjoyed 150 mm of rain since December.

What is so special about the Desert Adapted Elephants?

The desert elephant are truly incredible survivalists, regularly traveling hundreds of kilometers in search of water. They only drink every three or four days, compared to elephants in Etosha that drink one-hundred to two-hundred liters of water a day.  Unlike other elephants, the desert adapted elephant rarely knock over trees, break branches, or tear away bark, as if knowing that doing so would endanger their food.

Mowani Mountain Camp and Camp Kipwe offer Nature Drives in open-air vehicles with experienced local guides. One of the highlights of these nature drives is trying to find the rare and elusive Desert Adapted Elephant.

Our expert and knowledgeable guides are skilled at tracking Deserted Adapted Elephants and we have a success rate of over 80% in finding them.

Swakopmund Council approved new budget

The Swakopmund Town Council has approved a capital budget of N$175 million for the coming year.

“I must admit that the efficient service delivery to the residents of Swakopmund has become a challenging task to manage effectively, as it has to be supported by sufficient financial resources. First and foremost it is required from our Council to provide quality services and then to maintain it at an acceptable standard,” Chairperson of the Management Committee of Swakopmund Council, Alderwoman Rosina //Hoabes, noted when she tabled Council's Capital and Operational budget for the 2014/2015 financial year on Thursday.

The municipality's strategic plan, approved by Council in February 2011, was reviewed in February this year and according to Ms //Hoabes, “we are well on track with the projects”.

She said the N$175 million capital budget is based on resources currently available in Council's investment and current accounts. Allaying fears that Council may run into a deficit, she said “I am convinced that with the anticipated property sale transactions the Council will generate revenue in excess of N$90 million and this, together with current available funds, will place our Council in a more favourable position to finance the projects anticipated for 2014/2015 financial year.”

N$24.2 million was allocated for the formalisation of DRC informal area. It is anticipated that additional funds will be made available by the Central Government under the mass housing initiative.

N$8.5 million was allocated for the re-location of the sewerage block system in Mondesa and Tamariskia.

Ms //Hoabes said the general welfare of Swakopmunders living in close vicinity, where blockages frequently occur, is of concern to Council and “therefore our Council is planning to relocate the entire sewerage system. The current situation in Mondesa [of regular sewerage blockages] does not reflect the living standard that Council wishes for its residents to live in.”

N$19.4 million was allocated for servicing land and installing services for Block 2 in Tamariskia. Ms //Hoabes said Council plans to install services on Block 2 in Tamariskia in the coming year, “which will enable the preparation of this land with the aim of making erven available to the public.

The remainder of the funds will be allocated towards future planning of serviced land for further development of the town.”

N$35.8 million was provided for the resurfacing of streets and roads. Council will provide the required material and local contractors will provide the required labour.

“This also results in employment creation on Council's part”, she noted, adding that “this concept has proven itself to be more economical for Council and also established a business partnership between the community and Council.”

N$1.7 million was allocated to replace the vehicle fleet of the traffic department and to improve traffic related services.

N$19.5 million was allocated for the maintenance and construction of public buildings. The bulk of the funds will used to complete the new Multi-Purpose centre, to renovate the Museum and Woermann House building, as well as other municipal buildings.

The Cleansing Section was allocated N$11.7 million to improve on current refuse removal services and to cater for the newly developed townships. The funds will also be used to rehabilitate the old dumping site and to purchase a new skip container truck.

N$39 million was made available for the Sewerage Works to complete the new effluent purified reservoir and also expand effluent water supply to the rest of the town, to develop public open spaces and also for the development and enhancement of parks and gardens.

It was noted that the new sewerage plant is fully operational and that the old one still needs to be maintained. Provision has also been made for purchasing an additional Jetvat truck to be used for sewerage-related blockages.

N$11.2 million was allocated for business and market malls. Of which N$7 million has been budgeted for the construction of an industrial park, of which phase 1 will cater for Small and Medium Enterprises.

Swakopmund Town Council's total capital budget amounts to N$175 million, of which N$88 million relates to existing projects, while the remaining N$86 million is earmarked for brand new projects.

Council's Operational Budget for the coming year makes provision for 19 new positions, which are aimed at improving service delivery to residents of the town.

Swakopmund: moratorium on sale of land to private developers

The decision to involve private developers in the servicing of erven has led to an increase in the price of erven and has resulted in the Municipality of Swakopmund losing potential income of more than N$525 million over the past decade.

It has become painful clear that a decision made by the previous Swakopmund Council, to allow private developers to develop large tracts of land, has cost the municipality more than half a billion dollars in lost revenue.

The prices of erven demanded by private developers have also created affordability problems, and sidelining the needs of low-income earners while prioritising profits.

This conundrum came to light at a Council meeting held on 24 April, where a proposal was tabled by the management committee to the effect that “Council should seriously consider adopting a total moratorium on the development of large tracts of land” by private developers.

The moratorium would include all applications previously submitted to Council for any of the undeveloped blocks of land earmarked for township development. The controversial decision to allow private developers to service the erven was taken by the previous council,“… although the potential loss of income was pointed out to Council”, it was noted.

“However at a later stage the previous Council did realise that it would be better if Council continued to develop land themselves…” and following the election of a new Council it was decided by April 2010 that “all applicants be informed that Council will not consider the alienation of more block erven until the blocks allocated to developers north of Extension 9 and Tamariskia have proven to be successful.”

Again in July 2010 Council resolved to “take all the necessary steps to develop any blocks, which are not sold.”

On the basis of that decision Council then developed 120 erven on Block 7, north of Tamariskia, without the involvement of any private developers. These erven were eventually sold at an average purchase price of N$746/m² and generated close on N$60 million for the municipality.

There are very few blocks of prime residential land left for residential development and it was argued last week that if Council goes ahead to develop the remaining Block 15 without the involvement of any private developers, the municipality would “generate an income of N$153.3 million (plus N$65 million through the sale of the land), being N$218.31 million, compared to a potential N$590.2 million, which is now only being shared by 12 developers, Council included.”

In the municipality's own assessment of the losses it suffered as a result of the decision to outsource the development of erven, it found that if Council had developed all blocks availed to the private developers, Council would have generated “income from Blocks 1 to 15 totalling N$590.2 million” (based on a market-related selling price of N$667/square metre, minus the upset price of N$222m², which already includes a 25% profit margin).

It was further noted that the income from the development of land would have been sufficient to finance the formalisation of the DRC settlement. However, following a number of earlier resolutions, which sanctioned the sale of the undeveloped erven, Council ended up developing only two of the 15 blocks that were available, Blocks 1 and 7, to the north of Tamariskia, which were handed back to Council by Rössing Uranium.

Council noted that the only other block available for development by the municipality is Block 15, which is considered one of the last prime sites for residential development. It is estimated that Council could still generate N$153 million from the servicing and sale of these erven.

This does not mean that private developers will be totally excluded from developing land: “Council will still be approached for land for major projects, such as schools and hospitals,” but such proposals must “be tested in public,” it was recommended.

It was further recommended that “in future, a standard response be issued to all applicants for land in excess of 5 000m², for especially township development, informing them that there is no land available…”

Sea Side Festival in Swakopmund

The first ever annual beer festival will be held at the SeaSide Hotel and Spa on 24 May.

As a kick-off event, the festival will last only one day, but future festivals will be held over two days.

Two of the main sponsors are Castle Lager & Coca Cola. Some popular artists, including Jo Nichol, Joggie van Schalkwyk, CeeJay, Alinda Jacobs as well as RAT, will be lined up to perform and provide entertainment for the festival.

A “potjiekos’’ competition will be run during the day as well as a volleyball tournament. The organisers so far have received great prizes for all of the competitions. For the volleyball competition, there is a N$10 000 prize, and for the “potjiekos” competition the winner will pocket N$5 000. There will be fun and entertainment for everyone and all ages. There will be jumping castles, face painting and many more fun activities.

Castle Lager will also add to the fun by offering mini happy hours with their Castel Light product. The Coke ladies will be present to promote new products. The wine lovers will have a good range to choose from the wine stalls.

There will be no hungry men because the organisers have made provision for delicious food that will be on sale such as braaivleis and pannekoek. The team is looking forward to an exciting event for the whole family.

Namibia: Gross Barmen Resort to reopen in August

The Gross Barmen Hot Springs Resort is set to reopen sooner by August this year. The new accommodation facilites are already completed, work on the swimming pool, conference centre and restaurant is nearing completion. Only the work on the new spa, the restaurant as well as the reception areas is currently delayed. The resort, which is managed by state-owned Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), has been closed for redevelopment since Novemer 2010.

Namibia's Bank Windhoek adopts anti-money laundering system

Bank Windhoek has introduced a new anti-money laundering system, which it says, would provide a complete overview and assessment of the client’s banking behaviour from the time the client opens an account with the bank to the time of the account being terminated.

“Although Bank Windhoek has been complying and continues to comply with the requirements of the Financial Intelligence Act (FIA), the new system will make it easier for Bank Windhoek to gather all information required to submit regular reports of suspicious transactions and activities to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) of the Bank of Namibia.

The system also helps to group clients in different risk categories to enable the bank to effectively use resources to monitor clients that are deemed to be, or assessed as, high risk,” said Almarie Bartsch, Chief Compliance Officer at Bank Windhoek.

The system also allow the bank to carry out checks during client acceptance and the on-going client due diligence process to “identify high risk customers such as politically exposed persons as well as persons or organisations that are subject to sanctions, understand the risks in our client base throughout the whole client life cycle to avoid doing business with risky clients and to make risk-based decisions.

“The system allows for monitoring of suspicious transactions, automatically identifies and classifies suspicious behaviour and detects and stops all transactions to and from individuals and organisations named in sanction lists.”

Further, the payment transactions will be monitored in real time and will be checked against national, international and own sanction lists.

Windhoek Municipality appealed to contain property prices

The Windhoek Municipality has appealed to landlords and property developers to be humane when selling or letting residential properties, saying the escalation in the price of residential properties has become a headache for the council.

“I appeal to property owners and property developers to be humane enough and consider leniency when determining their property prices and rental fees,” the Windhoek Municipality spokesperson Joshua Amukugo said yesterday at a media briefing in the capital.

“Residents are indeed going through hardship due to property price escalations, and the [municipality] hereby extends its plea to profitable large private firms all over the country, and within the Windhoek municipal boundaries in particular, to consider becoming engaged in providing suitable accommodation to their employees as this could help alleviate the housing burden,” he urged.

Amukugo said the obvious solution to property and price escalations is to increase the supply of serviced erven, thereby increasing the availability of residential dwellings. However, currently due to limited funds newly serviced land is scarce, as well as because of the rapid growth of Windhoek’s population and the fact that most land around the city is owned by private commercial farmers. The municipality has to buy the land from the farmers at exorbitant prices.

“However the city council remains optimistic and in full support of the government’s mass housing project initiative which, upon completion of the construction of the houses by NHE in Otjomuise Extension 10, will provide the much needed breather to residents,” he said.

He said the situation was subject to the basic law of economics that determine that naturally with a limited supply of a certain commodity the demand for that particular commodity would always bound to increase and thus set prices to increase.

“Due to a lack of a legislative guideline in enforcing a healthy competitive framework on property prices the status quo will regrettably remain as such, with a few individuals benefiting from the opportunity and maximising on profit,” he said.

In solving the problem, Amukugo said the municipality has implemented a pilot phase strategy of a public private partnership (PPP) that so far is bearing fruit as a number of residential erven were availed and auctioned off in Otjomuise Extension 4.

“The project is ongoing, with residential erven to be availed this year for Academia Extension 1,” he said.

He further called on city residents not to despair as the municipality was confident that the employed strategic interventions such the PPP projects, and own-funded projects on serviced land together with the mass housing project would yield the much needed outcome and provide a cooling effect on property price escalation.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Taxi service from Namibian Defence Force

There is intrinsically nothing wrong with a non-military person making use of a Namibian Defence Force (NDF) aircraft such as the ill-fated helicopter that crashed at the Grootfontein Military Base recently.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Peter Shivute said that only an indemnity form needs to be signed and approved before boarding.
“The NDF is here for the service of the Namibian people,” Shivute stated, while refusing to go into detail as to the circumstances that can result in a civilian boarding an NDF aircraft.
Unless in times of national emergencies, military transport is off-limit to ordinary citizens.
According to information from the ministry there were two pilots and eight passengers on board the Chinese-manufactured Harbin Z-9 military aircraft when it crashed immediately after take-off on 11 April. Four of the 10 people on board the helicopter died at the crash site, while two boys aged three and six were admitted at Katutura State Hospital and later succumbed to their injuries. The boys, McVince Mwiya and Hendrick Amalwa were children of soldiers and were visiting relatives in Windhoek.
Those that died on the spot included 28-year-old co-pilot Eve Nghimwenavali, Wilka Ndanyengwa Sheya, 27, and 52-year-old Toini Nekulilo Martin. Martin was a member of the Namibian Police Force and mother of Martin Shoopala, the NDF air traffic controller at Grootfontein. Amalwa was Martin’s nephew.
Three other, identified as Johanna Hailaula, 31, Werner Nashilundo, 35, and Nabot Kamati, 35, who were also on board are still in a critical condition at hospitals in Windhoek.
An investigation team made up of Namibians, Chinese experts and the manufacturers of the Z-9 helicopter is currently underway.
Meanwhile, the NDF personnel carrier plane that crash landed at the Omega Military Base in the Zambezi Region in December 2013 remains languishing on the runway, more than four months after the initial accident. 
The plane’s tyres reportedly burst upon landing at Omega and was damaged after performing an emergency landing while on a mission to the fatal Mozambican plane crash site in Bwabwata National Park that recorded no survivors. The plane reportedly experienced landing complications due to bad weather and a grass-filled runway which led to one of its tyres coming off upon hitting the runway.
The latest photographs of the plane with registration NAF-3-642, taken less than two weeks ago, show the plane, which suffered extensive damages to its wings parked on a smaller adjacent strip to the main runway at Omega Airport.

Arandis, Namibia: solar plant planned

Construction of Africa’s first thermal-solar power plant at Arandis could start before the end of this year.
Even though there are thermal (heavy fuel oil) and solar power plants in Africa, the 120 MegaWatt (MW) ‘hybrid’ (where the thermal and solar energy is merged) will be the first of its kind on the continent, Arandis Power MD Ezio Vernetti told The Namibian at a press conference in Swakopmund yesterday.

The power station will take 22 months to construct, and will have a new connection substation and a short power line that will both be donated to NamPower.

The total project cost is estimated at N$3 billion and will contribute about 26% of Namibia’s electricity requirement.

“The hybrid station will offer multiple advantages to the national grid and to the end-user,” said Vernetti.

The plant is said to consist of eight 15MW heavy fuel oil (HFO) engines weighing 358 tonnes each, with a “9th engine” being a solar park with a capacity of up to 50MW of photovoltaic (solar) panels.

The originality also lies in the fact that the solar park is not operated in the traditional manner in which electricity is self-dispatched into the national grid when an electrical current is generated, but rather the solar energy is used as a fuel-saving mechanism for the power produced by the HFO engines.

“The function of the solar park of the Arandis Power’s 120MW hybrid power plant is purely to reduce the fuel bill of the power station and to bring down the overall cost of electricity for NamPower and the country,” explained Vernetti.

The savings on this ‘fuel bill’ could be up to N$150 million per year – which equates to about 23 000 tonnes of fuel a year.

The HFO plant would, however, require a 45 000 tonne depot at Walvis Bay for its “low sulfur fuel”.

Namibia currently imports over 60% of its energy requirement but the import option is disappearing for NamPower due to the regional electricity shortage.

If things remain unchanged in Namibia, there will be a deficit of electricity amounting to over 80% of its daily needs by the last quarter of 2015 (420MW shortfall out of 510MW of peak demand based on NamPower data).

NamPower’s long term solution is the Kudu Gas project, which is an enormous N$25 billion project – almost double the country’s foreign reserves and over 83% of the total 2012 government revenue. The project could be realised by 2020.

Arandis Power is a joint venture of Namibian and international companies featuring CEC Africa (a subsidiary of Copperbelt Energy Corporation of Zambia, which also partners NamPower in the Kudu Gas project).

Namibia: tourism shows improvement

FNB/FENATA Travel Index, the measure of tourism activity in the country, rose by 2.7 percent from the previous quarter and 11.2 percent from the same period last year, according to Namene Kalili, Manager Research at FNB Namibia.

Kalili says the index closed off the fourth quarter on a strong note due to favourable exchange rates for foreign tourists, higher occupancy rates, stable domestic prices and stronger load factors on international flights. “The local currency lost ground against the Euro and the US Dollar and thus travel to Namibia was 9 percent cheaper for European tourists and 6 percent cheaper for American tourists based on exchange rate fluctuations. Furthermore, prices for accommodation contracted in local currency terms by 2.2 percent. The load factor on international flights increased by 10 percent on account of fewer international flights and hence tourists flew to Namibia more efficiently. All these factors improved Namibia’s cost competitiveness during the fourth quarter and hence the sector’s GDP contribution should increase accordingly.” Positive revenue outturn was widespread, with tented lodges, hotels, tour operators, activity operators, guesthouses and bed and breakfast establishments being the most optimistic, according to the researcher. According to the index although international arrivals declined over the fourth quarter, there was an increase in occupancy rates measured at local establishments. “This was due to high numbers of local tourists, who accounted for 45 percent of the total bed nights sold during the fourth quarter, particularly when it came to guesthouses, rest camps, tented camps, and tented lodges. Operators expect a 10 percent increase in tourist numbers during the first quarter of 2014, with most of the tourists checking into bed and breakfast, guest farms, guesthouses and tented lodges to maintain the growth momentum into 2014.”

Employment levels also continued to improve during the fourth quarter as the incidence of job losses within the sector continued to dissipate, while the incidence of new jobs began to increase. Employment numbers are projected to improve marginally during the first quarter, particularly in the air charter, tented lodges and hotels subsectors, while the vast majority of the remaining subsectors expect employment levels to remain the same. Kalili said capital expenditure increased during the fourth quarter, with 35 percent of respondents reporting increased capital expenditure levels, particularly in the guest farm, lodge and tented lodge subsectors. The only subsector that reported negative capital expenditure levels was the self-catering subsector. Looking forward to the first quarter, capital expenditure is expected to increase by 4 percent with guest farms, guesthouses and tented lodge subsectors leading the investment curve. Coincidently, these are also the same establishments that expect strong increase in tourist numbers.

Fewer issues were reported during the fourth quarter. Issues mainly pertained to demand, cost and government matters. On the demand side, the issues were mainly positive in regard to the weaker local currency that has made Namibia more cost competitive for international travellers and therefore stimulated demand in foreign source markets. “On the cost side, fuel prices remain a concern for the industry and particularly for the air charter subsector, which has seen input costs increase due to foreign currency translation”.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Namibia Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp will be open in August

We are pleased to announce the opening of a brand new adventure camp in the Skeleton Coast National Park in Namibia.

After natural fires desroyed the original Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in 2012, safari travellers have been anticipating the construction and grand opening of a new lodge in the area replacing the old one.

The new Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, located around 100 km south east of the previous camp, is set to open on 01 August this year.

The Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is a gem set amongst rugged, iconic, wildlife-filled terrain. Nestled in a valley at the confluence of two tributaries of the Hoanib River, the tranquility and stunning landscape is awe-inspiring. The camp is located in one of the most remote areas of the Kaokoland, between the Palmwag area and the iconic Skeleton Coast National Park in Namibia.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Namibia joins seach for missing helicopter

Ministry of Works and Transport and the Police Air Wing unit yesterday launched a search mission for a missing helicopter from neighbouring Botswana.
The Helicopter BPS 02-Type AS35, which is white in colour with blue stripes, took off from Gumare in Botswana’s North-West District on Sunday at 17h05 heading for Maun. Since the helicopter never arrived at its destination, the Botswana Search and Rescue Coordination Centre has been searching since Monday.

The Windhoek Air Traffic Control Centre has now launched a search and rescue mission for the helicopter, transport ministry permanent secretary Peter Mwatile confirmed in a media statement yesterday.

The statement said a helicopter belonging to police (V5 HPA) left the Eros Airport yesterday at 05h13 and was destined for the search area.

The police helicopter entered the search area shortly after a fuel let down in Tsumkwe in the Otjozondjupa Region.

According to Mwatile, another search mission using a fixed-wing aircraft was also conducted by the Namibian authorities in the search area on Tuesday afternoon.

Gaborone radar footage indicates that the missing helicopter allegedly made a U-turn before it went out of the radar coverage, as it was flying low.

Other unconfirmed reports state that the missing helicopter could have crossed into Namibia, some 23 kilometres west of Divundu in the Kavango East Region.

Police commanding officers in Rundu and Bagani have also been put on standby for any ground rescue operation.

Cancer risk for uranium miners

A shocking new report released this week points to a number of serious health threats facing workers on Namibia’s uranium mines.

The researchers say their findings reveal “a clear trend towards negative health impacts on the workers,” noting the workers’ fears about their future health and the fate of their families, given that “many workers pass away shortly after retirement, unnoticed in their hometowns or villages, where no data for statistics are collected.”

The ‘Study on Low-level Radiation of Rio Tinto’s Rossing Uranium Mineworkers’ was conducted by the Labour Resource and Research Institute and Earthlife Namibia and indicates that workers at Rossing Uranium mine are at risk of serious occupational diseases, such as cancer, due to exposure to radiation.

The researchers conducted interviews with 40 mineworkers at Arandis, many of whom complained about failing health and sicknesses they did not experience before working at the mine. The workers narrated stories of cancer and premature death among their colleagues, which they strongly believe are linked to their exposure to radiation and dust at the mine.

The early days

Rossing Uranium mine has been operated by Rio Tinto since 1976 and according to the report “Miners who started working for Rossing at the early years of operation, were not protected against exposure, be it dust or radiation or both. Moreover, they had no knowledge about the danger uranium mining poses.”

“At the time we started we didn't have the masks, glasses etc. The safety measures only came recently. In the beginning we used our hands to clean the uranium without having anything to cover ourselves,” one respondent at Arandis said. One laboratory technician said: “We had to test the yellow cake with our mouth. We didn't know [any better]. I'm not the only one. My colleague is also sick. He is at the farm, but presently in the hospital, also in a wheelchair. In the beginning there was no safety policy.”

“In the past the machinery at Rossing was a bit heavier to handle and had no [advanced] technologies. This damaged our health. The dust in the early years was too much before 1991; that is dating back to 1975. The working conditions were hazardous. Things were not good. The eye protection shades were not good. The machinery we used did not have canopies to protect us from all exposures. Until up to now, the people who started working in those years have health problems.”

Medical records

A Rio Tinto spokesman said the company keeps detailed records of the health status of its workforce from the day of employment to the day they leave the company: “The health and safety of our employees is the top priority. We have health management systems in place to make sure that everyone goes home safe and healthy every day. Effective controls ensure that radiation exposures to employees are kept well below the Rossing standard for occupational radiation exposure.”

Some workers complained that they were not allowed to see their own medical results. “Not at all, they won’t give or tell your results. You will only find out maybe if you go to a doctor and when you undergo certain tests. That is when the doctor can tell you if you have a problem.”

“Doctors were told not to inform us with our results or tell our illness. As you know, she [the doctor] is also just working for the company and she just has to obey to what she is told. This has become a very dangerous issue, since you are sick and never informed about your sickness,” another miner reported.

“They only supply you with medication until you are totally almost finished up or about to die. That’s when they will tell you what your sickness is. I even had a friend who died of cancer, but he was never told about his results. They were supposed to tell him. It was very painful news to hear that he died of cancer while he has been going for the test and was never informed.”

Another said that they have lately been able to access their medical reports: “Three years back they started to tell the people. But before that we were never told,” he said.

Risky work

Many workers said they would rather not work in the mine, but to take the job, even if it is risky because they need to earn a living and support their family. “You gamble with your life and will maybe be ill when you are old,” one said. “The problem is that there are not many jobs. That's why people will work anywhere. When your children are crying for hunger you will go,” said another.

A third respondent said “I understand you must only work for five years with uranium, after that you must do something else. The thing is just that if you are unemployed and your family needs money then you will go! If you need money you can't think of the dangers. It’s dangerous, but we need the money.”

Another miner said there is no long term risk: “We choose when we want to go. For example, if I have worked here for 20 years then I can say I want to be retrenched. It's our own choice. When the retrenchment comes we can also opt for that if we know we have worked here long.”

Some of the workers said health and safety standards at the mine are excellent. All workers said that their washing is done at the mine’s laundry, but back when the mine started up workers went home with their work clothes on and it had to be washed by themselves or their wives.

Of the 40 workers interviewed, only four of the younger ones, who had not been at the mine very long, said that they did not know any mineworkers who got sick. All the older workers said they know of miners, former and current colleagues and family members, who are dying of cancer and other occupational diseases.

“When my uncle started working for the mine he was healthy. He started in 1984 without any illness, but he got diagnosed last year with cancer. I think it comes from the mine because he is always working there. He works as an operator in the open pit,” one woman reported. “I know a lot of them [who got sick], but I cannot remember their names. You should just ask others as well around here in Arandis.

Long-term health risks

The problem is that the impact on the worker’s health due to low-level radiation exposure only shows after a long period of time (5, 10 or even 20 and 30 years), the workers frequently get ill and pass away after retirement. One family member said: “When my uncle started working for the mine he was healthy. He started in 1984 without any illness, but he got diagnosed last year with cancer. I think it comes from the mine, because he is always working there. He works as an operator in the open pit.”

“People get sick. We are seeing it in people that have worked for Rossing for a long time. They just go back and die after working for Rossing,” said one. “Yes, most of them that I know of have retired. Some of them just spent very few months and they died. They were diagnosed with a lot of sicknesses like TB, lung infections and cancer,” reported another.

It is difficult for workers in developing countries, like Namibia, to prove that their illness was caused by their work as uranium miners and get compensation, because cancers may take years to develop and although the cause of chronic health problems have been linked to uranium mining on the basis of large epidemiological studies with lifetime follow-up, science has yet to prove that exposure to radiation was the effective cause of the miners’ ailments.

The researchers recommend that all mineworkers should get access to their own medical reports. Furthermore, they say the Ministry of Health and Social Services must get unrestricted access to all medical reports of all workers employed by Rossing and that a large-scale epidemiology study with independent medical experts be conducted to examine those workers who started working in the 1970s or early 1980s.

Rossing Uranium mine accounts for 7% of global uranium production, making up 10% of Namibia’s total export in 2012. It is 69% owned by Rio Tinto, a British-Australian mining giant. The Namibian government owns only 3%, the government of Iran 15%, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa 10% and local individual shareholders 3%.

High demand for housing at Namibian Atlantic Coast

There are about 15 000 people at the coast on waiting lists for affordable houses, while the NHE only has 5 150 houses planned for construction through the mass housing programme over the next 18 months - being the first phase of the national initiative launched at the beginning of this year.

This means about 9 850 of these people will wait for the second phase to be launched after 2015 when the first phase is completed.

Most of the houses planned for the towns in the first phase are for the applicants from Swakopmund's DRC informal settlement - which will see the construction of 3 554 houses.

During a feedback meeting with the media last week, NHE Erongo branch manager, Karl Schroeder, said that NHE was given the mandate to build 185 000 houses (of a variety of designs and cost categories) nationally by 2030. During the first phase of the programme (ending 2015), 8 850 houses are planned nationally, and 10 200 plots serviced during that period.

The bulk for the first phase houses were allocated to the Erongo region, which will get 5 250 units with Walvis Bay getting 1595 units, Swakopmund (3554), Henties Bay (80) and Outjo, which will fall under Erongo (20). Omaruru, Karibib and Usakos will also eventually get houses under the programme.

The biggest contractor for the first phase in Erongo is Power Onyeno with 2 054 houses for Swakopmund.

Schroeder explained that people on the waiting lists for the Build Together Programme will be included in the NHE waiting list under the mass housing scheme.

Concerning the developments at the DRC and concerns by residents that they would be forced out and their erven grabbed from them, Schroeder assured legal DRC residents they have nothing to fear.

He said the situation at the DRC involved people that are residing there, and already have erven from the municipality.

"We will assist these people to move their shacks and corrugated houses to a certain area that has been allocated to them and then start building on the land that they own. Once the houses have been completed, they will then be able to go back," he explained.

"Then there are pieces of land currently being serviced but are still vacant. The allocation of those houses will be for those on the waiting list."

In a bid to make houses affordable to the majority, Schroeder said NHE will have the cost of the houses subsidied, and said there are apparently "advanced negotiations" with government as to the formula for the subsidies.

"This will guarantee that people who cannot afford houses, will be able to buy subsidised houses," said Schroeder.

A stakeholders' meeting is planned for July by invitation of Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua, and the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development will also appoint technical experts to provide advisory services and support the programme.

The first phase nationally will cost Government about N$2,7 billion and about N$45 billion till 2030.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

ЮАР: из заповедника похищено 40 носорожьих рогов

На востоке Южной Африки из принадлежащих Управлению национальных заповедников стальных сейфов похищено более 40 носорожьих рогов. Об этом пишет Bloomberg.

Как отмечают в полиции, кража была тщательно спланирована. «Это самая крупная кража рогов носорогов в нашей практике», — заявил представитель местного департамента полиции Пол Рамалоко.

Как сообщается, рога были украдены рано утром 21 апреля.

Южная Африка является домом для 83% носорогов Африки и для 73% от числа всех носорогов в мире. По данным национального парка, в текущем году уже 294 носорога были убиты браконьерами, а за весь предыдущий год — 1004 носорога. Как правило, рога привозят в Восточную Азию, где люди полагают, что рога помогают вылечить рак.

Намибия будет экспортировать в Гонконг мясо антилоп

Власти Гонконга в ближайшие недели посетят Намибию, чтобы оценить состояние животноводческих хозяйств.

Гонконг  вскоре может начать импорт говядины - и даже мяса антилоп - из Намибии, если экспортное предложение  юго-западной африканской страны будет утверждено местными органами власти.

Команда гонконгских экспертов посетит Намибию в ближайшие недели, чтобы проверить состояние животноводческих хозяйств, о чем сообщил министр торговли и промышленности Намибии Калле Шлеттвайн.

По словам министра, заявка, поданная в конце прошлого года , уже, в принципе, получила поддержку от Гонконга.

Говядина из Намибии продается в виде высокотехнологичной продукции на скандинавском рынке. Основным преимуществом намибийской продукции является то, что мясо производится из скота, находящегося на свободном выгуле, а также свободного от   гормональной терапии и коровьего бешенства.

Но фермеры Намибии сейчас обращают свое внимание на быстро растущий азиатский рынок, особенно, на Китай.  Делегация из материкового Китая уже побывала в Намибии с инспекцией животноводческого сектора.

Экспортеры из Намибии заинтересованы не только в размере китайского рынка, но и в его различных вкусовых предпочтениях. В Европе предпочтение отдается стейкам и продуктам премиум-класса. Но в Китае  потребители покупают все виды вырезки и субпродукты.

" В Гонконге и [ материковом ] Китае у нас есть возможность торговать  всеми частями коровьей туши, включая стейки, филе и субпродукты, - говорит министр  Шлеттвайн , - Мы [ намибийцы ] едим субпродуктов очень много. Это традиционная кухня".

Страна также ищет покупателей для более необычных продуктов, таких как мясо антилоп. " Антилопы  у нас в изобилии, а их мясо отличается очень низким содержанием холестерина и прекрасным вкусом. Мясо антилопы может стать сильным конкурентом для говядины ", - отметил министр торговли.

Большой Китай является шестым по величине экспортным рынком для Намибии, закупая товаров на общую сумму 133 100 000 долл. США. В основном, это сырье, сказал министр.

Шлеттвайн, который был в Гонконге на прошлой неделе, в рамках поездки по содействию развитию торговли между двумя  странами, заявил, что Пекин уже договорился о создании мясоперерабатывающего предприятия в Намибии. "Мы не можем поддерживать позицию только поставщика сырья. Мы должны повысить ценность экспортируемой нами продукции", - сказал он, добавив, что связи с Китаем дали Намибия возможность диверсификации животноводческого сектора и мясного производства.

Magical Island Lodge in the heart of the Zambezi

Ntwala Island Lodge – Magical Island Lodge in the heart of the Zambezi
Surrounded on all sides by seductively wild and powerful waterways, Ntwala Island Lodge is the most pristine and secluded Chobe destination. Intricate floating walkways link an untouched Namibian cluster of islands within the Mambova rapids where two mighty African rivers – the Zambezi and Chobe converge. Only 80km upstream from the Victoria Falls, where white sands and palm trees add to the romance.
At Ntwala activities, whether game viewing, fishing or simply taking in this magical envirionment, are private and exclusive. 


Ntwala accommodates 8 guests in four ultra luxury styled  suites, each inclusive of a private plunge pool fringed by white sand, opulent viewing deck, and a private sala extending enticingly out over the water.

Ultra Luxurious

The lodge is ultra luxurious ensuring a high degree of personalized service, culinary expertise and quality privately guided activities.

Magical River Game Experiences

Game experiences are predominantly water borne with the close proximity to Chobe National Park.

Monday, 21 April 2014

African Union members to meet in Windhoek

Social and labour experts from African Union (AU) member states will meet in Namibia's capital city next week to discuss issues of employment, poverty eradication and inclusive development.

The special session of the Labour and Social Affairs Commission (LASC) of the AU will bring together some 400 delegates from 54 AU member countries from Wednesday until Friday.

Chief public relations officer at Namibia's Labour and Social Welfare Ministry Paulus Ashipala said the meeting's objectives are to provide opportunity for an evaluation and assessment of the Ouagadougou 2004 Declaration and Plan of Action, and facilitate building of agreement or consensus on current and future challenges of labour markets and policy perspectives at all levels.

The meeting will also adopt a Revised Policy Framework for the next decade on labour, employment and social protection and discuss modalities for preparation of the AU Extraordinary Summit set for this September.

Participants include the Pan African Parliament, AU's Economic, Social and Cultural Council, New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), economic communities, international partners, non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations.

The meeting is organised by the AU commission and Namibian government in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Rhino poaching in Namibia

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is alarmed by recent activities of poaching of rhinos and the illegal possession of fourteen rhino horns in the country, it announced today. Together with the Namibian Police. ministry officials are investigating these illegal activities further.
Due to the sensitivity of ongoing cases which are still under investigation and before the courts of law, “we have not been able to give answers to questions very specific to ongoing cases from various media houses. I would therefore like to assure the general public that when the time is right, a competent government authority will release appropriate information, as it was done by the Namibian Police on these cases earlier,” said acting permanent secretary Teofilus Nghitila.
 Since controlling a surge in poaching in the late 1980s and early 1990s Namibia has experienced insignificant levels of illegal killing of wildlife, particularly of rhinos and elephants said Nghitila. “ The changes in Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Policies that followed with Independence and the rapid growth of the Community Based Natural Resource Management and the Conservancy Programme in particular have no doubt contributed to the upward population trends shown by most wildlife species in the country,” he said.
 However according to Nghitilia, “poaching may therefore have severe economic implications through adverse impacts on tourism and trophy hunting. The current illegal wildlife related activities clearly need to be brought under control.”
 “The Government of Namibia condemns such ill-intentioned activities of rhino poaching and call(s) upon those involved to refrain from such activities with immediate effect or risk their chances of being caught and face the full wrath of the law,” said the PS.
 The Ministry of Environment and Tourism will strengthen its efforts in effective crime prevention and law enforcement through a coordination and integration of clusters of activities such as planning, monitoring and adaptive management as well as upholding a strong and effective presence on the ground. Dedicated investigation units that focus on criminal syndicates and organised crime will be created to collaborate with the police, army, judiciary, intelligence service, communities and farmers. Training and retraining of ministerial staff members is also on the cards.

Road crash outside Okahandja

Four people were killed when an Iveco bus and a truck collided on Tuesday night, while 23 others sustained slight to moderate injuries.
Motor Vehicle Fund (MVA) chief executive officer Rosalia Martins-Hausiku confirmed the accident, saying it happened about five kilometres outside Okahandja towards Otjiwarongo at 23h23.

“It is believed that the bus experienced a mechanical failure. Details about the cause of the crash are, however, not clear as investigations continue,” Martins-Hausiku said.

The crash brought the total number of accidents for the year to 916, out of which 188 lives were lost while 1 663 people sustained varying degrees of injury.

MVA also said since January until 15 April this year, 1 179 vehicles have been involved in accidents out of which 167 were public transport.

According to the Fund, March had the highest number of vehicles involved in crashes with 382, followed by February with 314, then January with 290, and so far this month 183 vehicles crashed.

“This month alone we have already lost 21 lives and it is of great concern to the fund, especially with the Easter weekend starting today. It is these times of traffic congestion that road users sometimes make choices, which may negatively impact on the lives of others. The fund therefore appeals to road users to make the right choices this weekend in order to save lives,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Namibia Traffic Management Solutions managing director Felix Tjozongoro said reckless drivers should be charged with murder instead of homicide.

“We have made pleas to Cabinet to amend the Criminal Procedure Act to bring to book these road killers and charge them with murder instead of homicide,” Tjongarero said.

Martins-Hausiku said the regions they have identified as accidents hot spots are Otjozondjupa, Erongo, Khomas, and Oshana with a high pedestrian accident rate.

Hardap Resort is on track to reopen

The multi-million dollar upgrading and renovation project at the Hardap Dam Resort near Mariental is progressing well and the first phase of the project will be completed and handed over to Namibia Wildlife Resorts towards the end of the year.

Ngenno Himarwa, co-owner of Mariental Construction Company that was awarded the N$40 million tender for the upgrade and renovation of the resort, says everything is on course and he expects the job to be completed by October as scheduled.

The first phase of the upgrade and renovation exercise comprise of a restaurant, conference facilities, a swimming pool, as well as twenty bungalows. Himarwa said the only drawback to progress at this stage is the extremely hard concrete surfaces of most of the old structures, since the dam is very old. “We managed to deliver as we have indicated during the tendering process,” he said.

Residents of Mariental will no doubt be delighted with the news, since the Hardap resort, boasts the only swimming pool in the area and has been closed to the public for more than two years now. In an earlier interview with Mariental mayor Alex Kamburute, he informed New Era that the municipality plans to build a new public swimming pool at the town to bring relief to residents, who have to endure the high temperatures experienced in the region, especially during the summer months.

Namibian Defence Force’s Z-9 helicopter crush site

The wreckage of the Namibian Defence Force’s Z-9 helicopter that crashed and burst into flames at the Grootfontein Airport on Friday last week. Six people have died as a result of the crash with the lastest victim, a pilot, succumbing on Tuesday evening in Windhoek.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Namibia's Erindi sale put on hold

The owners of the 70 000-hectrate Erindi Private Game Reserve said they did not do proper groundwork before recently putting it up for sale.
The game reserve is expected to be back on the market next year after owners withdrew recent plans to sell it.
Co-owner Gert Joubert told Namibian Sun yesterday that he had been naïve to put the farm up for sale earlier this year without doing the proper preparations.
He also claimed that he never, ever thought that government would be interested in buying Erindi and that he was preparing a proper proposal, which could see the property back on the market next year.
Joubert said Erindi had officially been taken off the market weeks ago, without any fanfare.
This is in stark contrast to when the private farm was put up for sale at the beginning of February, along with a potential commission N$65 million if anyone helped to find a buyer or partner for Erindi. The asking price for the game farm was N$1.3 billion, which in some quarters has been described as overpriced.
However, controversy soon overshadowed the potential sale, with the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL), among others, lambasting Joubert for initially not offering government first option and for saying that the Chinese would be the most suitable buyers.
Joubert told Namibian Sun yesterday that although the offer to sell Erindi had officially been withdrawn, unofficially they are still in talks with government.
According to him the offer had already been withdrawn about two months ago.
However, by the end of February, when speculation was rife that the game farm would be taken off the market, Joubert held a press conference where he said: “(It is) not a question of withdrawing the offer, but rather that in his opinion Erindi does not qualify under the Agricultural Land Reform Act.”
Joubert repeatedly said yesterday that he never thought government would be interested in buying Erindi and that he was not properly prepared for this.
According to him the offer has been withdrawn so that he can take time to prepare a proper proposal, which in his opinion can take up to several months before he sells the farm.
“I was uncertain about the procedures that had to be followed and want to take time to make a suitable proposal. Erindi is much more complicated, but government and I understand each other.”
He said that his first option was to sell a share of the farm, but with government being interested in Erindi that option would probably not be viable.
“Erindi is not just a little document that you can fill in at the ministry, it is much more complicated,” said Joubert.
With regard to his earlier statement that Erindi will not be sold under the Land Reform Act, Joubert said yesterday: “There is no other way that Erindi can be sold.”
He stressed that Erindi is unique and that it demands different parameters.
Joubert further explained that the first time government heard about Erindi being up for sale was when they were offered it by him.
“I was not prepared. I genuinely never thought that government would be interested. Never in my wildest dreams could I have thought that they would be interested. I
was actually being naïve. I did not know what to expect and prepare for.”
Joubert, however, said that both parties have reached consensus and decided to take time for things to settle down.
According to him the decision remains final that Erindi will be sold, whether to government or another investor, after all his ducks are in order.

Labour unrest in Etosha Park

Labour relations at the national tourism company continue to be problematic with recent disputes reaching State House.
Workers at the Namibia Wildlife Resorts’ Halali camp in Etosha have written to the company’s board and management, demanding that the Halali camp manager, Japhet Shikesho, should be removed.

The letter dated 23 February 2014 was accompanied by 40 signatures said to be of unhappy employees stationed at Halali.

NWR acting managing director Zelna Hengari confirmed receipt of the letter but said she was not aware of a letter sent to State House.

She explained that the problem with NWR staff members was that they bypassed established structures.

“Such a letter will then take a while to come from State House to the line ministry and back to us to deal with,” she said.

Hengari added that bypassing structures such as unions and management affects the company’s ability to investigate and solve problems.

Sources at the company accused the management of failing to act on the workers’ concerns, opting for “intimidation tactics”.

A source said five employees seen as the instigators were transferred from Halali to other NWR camps last week.

Hengari, however, said the transfer of employees had nothing to do with the letter.

“We transfer employees routinely depending on exigencies of a particular situation and the strategic needs of the company,” she said.

In the letter, Shikesho is accused of abusing his power and position to personally benefit from the company’s resources.

It is alleged that he filled his private car with company fuel and did not pay for it; does not respect government national parks regulations. In December 2012, he apparently bought goods worth N$10 000 using NWR’s account.

The goods were for a wedding at his house and he allegedly did not reimburse the company.

Local paper was provided a copy of an invoice of beverages bought by NWR at about the same time.

Shikesho is also accused of allegedly promoting his favourite staff members and ill-treating the rest, calling them names.

In response to the complaints, Shikesho wrote an eight-page letter, refuting the allegations.

In the letter, he called on those accusing him to provide proof.

He also accused union leaders of instigating the workers, while stating that he only took a tough stance to keep workers productive as there were some who apparently refused to carry out their duties.

Shikesho further said he has suffered insults from union representative at the company, on social networking sites and at the work place.

Shikesho could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press yesterday.

NWR chairperson Lea Namoloh refused to comment, referring queries to Hengari.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Tourism to Namibia as job creation vehicle

There should be one job opportunity for every tourist visiting Namibia, the Director of Environment and Tourism Sem Shikongo told entrepreneurs at the first tourism planning meeting held in Omusati Region yesterday.

“For every one tourist in the country there is one job opportunity and for every one tourist in the region there is at least one job opportunity,” said Shikongo at the meeting that took place at the University of Namibia’s Ogongo Campus.

The meeting was held to look at increasing the tourist numbers in the region and to improve the geographic spread of tourism in the country. The meeting also looked at increasing the amount of money spent by tourists in the region and enhancing tourism transformation.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga stressed that tourism provides opportunities for creating self-employment in small and medium-sized income-generating activities that are part of the sub-sectors of tourism.

“Today we all know that tourism has become a valuable industry of the Namibian economy. It provides for many job opportunities, often in the rural areas, where employment opportunities are otherwise few.”

Herunga said that the northern part of the country is blessed with renowned attractions, such as the Olufuko festival that has become an event that draws people to the region yearly. On the contrary, though, there is a need to develop, manage and increase tourist flow to heritage sites in the region, said Herunga.

Shikongo advised the tourism entrepreneurs in the region to embrace their cultural cuisine and practices when establishing attraction facilities to attract a wide spectrum of tourists in the region. Namibia has the fastest growing tourism sector worldwide and the sector contributes to at least 22 percent of the working population in Namibia.

Shikongo further highlighted the need to preserve tourists, adding that tourists visit the country to enjoy a wide range of different experiences hence the need to hold onto what Namibia’s cultural diversity can offer.

“Namibia has among many, the vast open spaces and wilderness areas, an abundant and diverse biodiversity and wildlife population as well as rich cultural diversity and valuable traditional knowledge that tourists can benefit from,” stressed Shikongo.

Shikongo also encouraged the local people to develop the attraction facilities that are currently in the region and in particular to venture into the creation of new attraction facilities. Herunga said the establishment of Uukwambi Cultural Heritage has started, while underway is the plan to develop the Elim Hospital Museum, which depicts the first missionary hospital constructed by Finish missionaries.

Herunga said those two projects have the potential to become major tourist attraction sites once fully developed.

Revamped Dolphin Park attracts more visitors

The past week’s hot east weather encourage thousands of people from Walvis Bay and Swakopmund to go to Dolphin Park Resort to splash, play and cool off in the variety of pools, slides and kiddy pools and sprayers. The water park, with picnic facilities, was recently reopened by Walvis Bay mayor Uilika Nambahu after being closed for renovations and installations last year. The revamp work cost about N$5 million and the opening was delayed to ensure that the facility was safe for all to use.

People stood in long queues to get to the two new featured slides: the Blue Ray and Electric Eel.

General entrance fees had to be paid while those wanting to use the slides had to pay 10 dollars for three turns – with a choice which of the two they wanted to slide in. The old water slide was also still a hit with a non-stop stream of people sliding down.

Although cooler temperatures are anticipated for the rest of the week, hot east weather conditions are expected again this coming Easter weekend, Dolphin Park will once again become a hive of refreshing activity.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Where there is a way to graft, a comrade will exploit it

Daniel Steinmann, The Namibian Economist

“A subsequent probe at Natis has revealed what is believed to be a syndicate that operates by issuing learner’s and driving licences to applicants against payment, but without them being subjected to any written or physical testing.”
A while back, a young man with a seemingly valid driver’s license applied for a job as driver at the Economist. I know this individual from way back, so his application was considered in a favourable light.
One of our drivers was asked to take the applicant for a test drive to assess his skill behind the wheel. Less than 15 minutes later, the company car returned, but the applicant was no longer driving! Instead, at some point during the test drive, our own driver relieved the new applicant from behind the wheel and took over. Our driver was visibly shaken.
I delved somewhat deeper into this. It turned out that the first near-calamity happened at the first crossing closest to our offices. This is less than 300 yards away. From there it was one near-miss after another, until eventually our driver had enough.

When I asked the guy sporting the brand new license how he ever managed to obtain it, he was recalcitrant. But since I know many of his family members, the story came out eventually, even if it was via his uncle. It transpired that he had paid N$2,400 through a connection who had set him up with another connection, who again put him in touch with the “right” people at Natis in Windhoek, and voilà, after said funds were transferred to said individual as a cash payment, two day later he collected his driver’s license.
When we tested him it was patently obvious he did not have any driving skills other than a very rudimentary ability to start the engine and getting the car to go forward.
The story does not end there. Since I know his uncle very well, I pushed the issue again at a later meeting. I then learned that every aspiring taxi driver in Katutura knows of this “service” and the uncle knew of dozens of people who have made use of it. Often, job-seeking hopefuls are peeved when they have similar experiences at private companies, asking themselves the question why they have paid all this money for the license when it fails to automatically open doors of opportunity for a new job. After all, is the position of driver not a popular appointment, and does not every company employ at least one driver? It must be a lucrative investment to get a permanent job for only N$2400, but then the scheme must produce positive results.
My source claims there must be hundreds of taxi drivers operating in and out of Katutura on fake driver’s licences. Unfortunately I am in no position to verify these claims, but I can state unequivocally that it is certainly a popular notion at grassroot levels that many taxi drivers operate without legal licenses. It is one of those many “urban legends”, the truth of which is difficult to establish, but which nonetheless is widely believed by just about everybody.
The quote at the top comes from an Anti-Corruption Commission press release announcing the arrest of several people on suspicion of fraud with the issuing of driver’s licences. What bugs me is why is it necessary for the ACC to start investigating a blatant crime only now, when the ordinary people who suffer most under illegal drivers have known for so long, that graft is the order of the day when someone has failed to obtain a driver’s licence through legal channels and procedures. That investigation should have been conducted by the Namibian Police years ago.
In a week from now, the whole of Windhoek will up and out again, either to the coast or to the north. Thousands of commuters and holidaymakers will take to the roads. Important people in high places will launch all sorts of Road Safety Campaigns. All to no avail, in my mind, as long as the fundamental flaw in the system are not addressed.
After the Easter weekend, we will again be horrified when we see the crash statistics and hear about the many people maimed and killed. If you think I am exaggerating, do two simple tests and decide for yourself.
Test One: In Windhoek, pick a particular taxi, any taxi, and just follow it for two minutes. In that very short time, I guarantee you, you will have witnessed at least five traffic infringements, from minor to very serious.
Test Two: The next time you drive between Windhoek and Okahandja, pick any Iveco that passes you doing at least 140 km/h and see how many more blatant incidents of complete disregard for road safety you can spot before it disappears from your vision. I bet, there will be several.
“The ACC is appealing to anyone who has credible information regarding the mentioned scam to report the same to ACC.” Impressive!

Erindi game auction is a success

Corne’ Kruger, a Namibian professional hunter was the centre of attention at last weekend’s second Erindi game auction when he paid N$400,000 for a trophy Kudu bull from Erindi Game Reserve. The bull comes as a guaranteed trophy with horns exceeding 61 inches. This trophy will take the lucky hunter into both the Roland Ward trophy index and the Safari Club International trophy digest. The future direction of game farming was clearly reflected in the presentations before and the revenue during the second Erindi game auction of last weekend. The auction grossed just over N$20 million from 93 buyers for the more than 1000 animals on offer, either as breeding groups or as individual animals.
Before the auction started at 14:00, buyers were treated to a presentation by Dr Louis Greeff, a South African veterinary surgeon specialising in game.

Dr Greeff discussed intensive farming methods for game farmers as well as how to determine the age of individual animals.
Game Farmer of the Year in South Africa, Wiaan van der Linde talked about return on investment for high-value game species, indicating that exotic and expensive game seems to be the future of game farming in general.
The auction was conducted by Vleissentraal Namibia.
This was the first auction arranged by this major auction company from South Africa. The auctioneer was Niel Swart.
Similar to the first Erindi game auction, the female roans from Mount Etjo Safari Lodge proved to be in high demand going for N$720,000 each.
This was substantially higher than roan prices at recent auctions in South Africa.
White rhinos staged a comeback with a 6-year old cow fetching N$750,00 while a 2-year old cow fetched N$410,000 each. Young rhino bulls were sold for N$200,000 and an adult bull with a 26 inch horn for N$475,000 although game farmers at the auction differed over its trophy value.
Tsessebes went for N$38,000 each as part of a breeding group, a blue wildebeest bull got N$70,000, two crocodiles were sold for N$22,000 each, and a lechwe breeding group went for N$30,000 each. A mature lechwe ram fetched N$38,000. sOther species of game included Damara dik diks, steenboks, and grey duikers.
The auction was opened by Annette Oelofse of Mount Etjo.

Op My Stoep Lodge in Oranjemund

“Op My Stoep” is a mere kilometre away from the world’s longest privately-owned bridge, the Harry Oppenheimer Bridge. A half-hour’s drive away from Alexander Bay, the establishment qualifies as the most pristine lodging facility, given its proximity to a RAMSER site on the Orange River, home to at least 130 bird species as well as the fact that it is perhaps the only lodge south of the Sperrgebiet. Op My Stoep Lodge is proudly owned and managed by Esteban Alberto Smit, aka “Fanie”. Like other business owners in and around Oranjemund, Smit continually has to deal with the challenges resulting from restrictions placed on the town. Said Smit, “Due to Oranjemund being a closed town, it can only be visited with a diamond permit, which takes three to four weeks to process. We often get queries from people standing at the Alexander Bay or Sendelingsdrif gate, enquiring about visiting Oranjemund, but due to the permit situation, they have to turn around.”

Clientèle consists mainly of people on official work duties for either NAMDEB or DebMarine, whilst only 2% of the total are actual tourists. Added Smit, “I also believe that others in the private enterprise community in Oranjemund feel that we can make a big contribution to the economy if the town could be opened. Or the other alternative is that they become more flexible with the permit situation. We do not know where the hiccups are, because the ball is being thrown around between the different parties involved.” Smit opened up the establishment in 2006 after being granted permission by NAMDEB to start with a small-scale operation, converting the old Riding Club, aiming at combining his knowledge of South American and South African cuisine. Said Smit on the town’s tourism potential, “The town of Oranjemund can offer a lot of activities such as organised dune rides, bird watching, canoeing, golfing, museum visits and fishing.” Smit is the proud owner of a collection of 2,375 different caps, unmatched on the continent. One third of his collection is proudly displayed in the establishment, which also includes a fine array of ancient artefacts, number plates, hunting trophies as well as a collection of currency notes and coins from across the world.

Swakopmund Strand Hotel news

Bruce Hutchison, Managing Director of O&L Leisure has advised that construction of the Strand Hotel in Swakopmund is progressing well.
“We are now out of the ground which means that the foundation work has been done and the first floor structure is in progress.  We are currently on schedule and extremely excited to see this fantastic hotel and food and beverage entertainment destination taking shape at the Mole in Swakopmund.”

Hutchison said there had only been one unforeseen challenge last November when the piling construction method of the foundations hit unexpected rock material.  “We effectively dealt with this by changing portions of the foundations using an alternative method.  However, the lost time has been re-gained and we are well on track” he said
He added that they hoped to continue in this vein to be able to open this great new addition to Swakopmund as scheduled early in the second half of 2015. “The hotel will offer a unique combination of Namibian and international hospitality and ultimately contribute towards job creation, building of innovative sustainable business and boosting the country’s tourism sector and thereby – inherently - the economy” he said.

No expropriation of private hospitals - at least not yet

The Ministry of Health says it will not expropriate private medical health facilities under a new bill which gives it power to take over private hospitals in the public interest.
This has emerged during debate on the National Health Bill in the National Assembly last week.
The bill includes a clause which gives the health minister the power to take over private health facilities and turn them into State hospitals.
However, before any takeover the minister is bound by the clause to consult an advisory committee as well as various health boards.
Also, the “takeover, acquiring, purchasing, leasing or procurement” of a private hospital as State institution will be subject to “payment of just compensation”. The terms and conditions of the sale “may” be mutually agreed upon by the minister and the owner of the private hospital, the bill reads.
Critics have expressed concern over the word “may”, saying this leaves room for the government to go ahead and take over such facilities in the absence of a mutual agreement with the owner.
“We will not just take over the private hospitals just like that and will not go around taking hospitals from people,” explained Health Permanent Secretary Andrew Ndishishi.
“The law says if you have a hospital or clinic in a village on which all people in that area depend, if you are selling it, the government will buy that facility in order to continue serving the people.
“It is better for it to continue as a hospital under the government, instead of the building being turned into something else.”
Ndishishi explained that should the owners of such property refuse to sell to the State, they will not be compelled to do so and the ministry will build its own hospital or clinic.
“The reason for the law is that we must have a legal instrument in place to guide us. This is public money; you cannot just use it without a legal instrument in place.”
He added that ministry had in the past taken over hospitals and clinics in Rehoboth which were previously owned by churches and foreign institutions.
Another provision in the bill gives the health minister the power to regulate the control of persons entering and leaving hospitals; custody of property belonging to admitted patients and control of articles and objects that may be brought into a hospitals.
Another controversial clause of the bill provides for immunity for the minister and his staff from being sued for medical negligence.
The bill was drafted to create a structured uniform national health system and consolidate laws relating to State hospitals and public health services.

Court cases over Namibian properties

The rush of African army leaders to purchase property in Namibia has degenerated into disputes over ownership.
This time around, Angolan Major-General Manuel Sieta Tiago Nzianga is cited in an urgent application for allegedly having threatened an Angolan woman, Graciana Pereira Do Amaral Gourgel.
Last month, lawyers representing Congolese army chief General Francois Olenga had approached the Windhoek High Court to trace N$9 million he allegedly had left in the care of Swakopmund estate agent Erwin Spranger. The hearing of that case is set for June 6.
In the latest case, Major-General Nzianga allegedly took the keys to Gourgel’s property in Pionierspark, allowed tenants to move in rent-free and is now allegedly refusing to return the keys.
“The voice tone of Nzianga was frightening when he shouted over the phone that he can make me disappear and forget who my parents are,” Gourgel said in a sworn statement in support of her urgent application.
She said she had sleepless nights in her house in Hochland Park, a situation which is affecting her health.
In the urgent application heard in the Windhoek High Court on Friday, Gourgel asked for an order restraining Nzianga and his agent, Silvity Munginguissy Carlos Fortunato, as well as the Registrar of Deeds in Windhoek and Monteleone Property Thirty Three CC from coming within 100 metres of her property at Erf 1215 Hochland Park, Windhoek.
She furthers wants them restrained from coming with 100 metres of another property belonging to her, Unit 33 of the Monteleone sectional-title complex.
Gourgel stated in her affidavit that she paid the full purchase price of N$1.6 million for the two properties and submitted the title deeds to demonstrate that she is the rightful owner of the properties.
She wants the court to interdict Nzianga from interfering with her occupation of these properties, and from intimidating, harassing or in any way interfering with her or any person authorised by her to reside or operate at the properties.
She further wants the court to order Nzianga to return the keys and vacate Unit 33 of the Monteleone complex.
An interim restraining order was granted. The respondents must give reasons by May 31 why the interim order shouldn’t be made final. They have not yet filed their answering papers.
Judge Kobus Miller was on the bench. Dr Sacky Akweenda appeared on behalf of the applicant on the instructions of Conradie & Damaseb Attorneys, while Advocate Theo Frank (SC) appeared for the respondents, instructed by Elis Shilengudwa Inc.

16th Annual Namibia Tourism Expo

The 16th Annual Namibia Tourism Expo is organised by Republikein and is supported by all Namibian Tourism Organisations, including the Namibian Tourism Board (NTB) and will be held from the 4th – 7th June 2014. Our aim is to provide a platform for Namibia's Hospitality Industry to promote and market their products and services to all involved in the Industry as well as the general public.

Since its inception in 1999, the Namibia Tourism Expo has consistently grown and has earned a superb reputation for offering the only centralised marketing platform for Namibia's Hospitality Industry.

Apart from presenting a highly effective showcase for Exhibitors active in Tourism, the organisers have revitalised the exhibition year after year by expanding the showcase.

The Expo hosts exhibits by local, regional and international establishments and also features interactive Chef's Demonstrations, Namibian Arts & Crafts Exhibitions, food, beer & wine tasting and a host of other fun activities to attract travel enthusiasts, foodies, friends of tourism and the general public alike.

A fully fledged motor vehicle show, complete with motoring accessories, is hosted under the banner of the Bank Windhoek – Republikein Motorshow.

Lüderitz Crayfish Festival gets boost at fundraising dinner

Preparations for the seventh Lüderitz Crayfish Festival are in full swing and N$230 000 in pledges were received during a recent fundraising dinner.
The festival will take place from April 30 to May 5 at the Lüderitz Waterfront.
According to a statement, a much bigger exhibition venue will see an increase in exhibitors, including corporates, smaller businesses and others.
There are a number of activities lined up that will add value to the festival and also attract more visitors than in previous years.
The festival, which began in 2008 with only 23 exhibitors, last year attracted 122 exhibitors and up to 7 000 visitors.
The aim of the festival is to create a platform for SMEs to showcase their products and different services they offer and for the private and public sectors to interact with their consumers, while introducing services, products and positioning their brands.
During the official launch of the festival, which also served as a fundraising gala dinner on April 4, the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Chief Samuel Ankama, said is important for businesspeople to invest in the festival. This was especially if they benefited from the natural resources of the town, including through fishing quotas.
The gala dinner was attended by various senior government officials and business personalities.
The event will kick off with a business conference, which will see different presenters sharing information on how best Lüderitz can be taken forward.
This conference will take place on April 30.

Namibian vultures are under threat

Severe threat faced by vultures in Namibia and elsewhere on the continent was put under the spotlight last weekend at the ‘Flight for the Plight of Vultures Air show’.
In recent years, the mass poisoning of vultures by poachers trying to remain undetected by authorities, has caused increasing concern amongst environmentalists who fear that vultures could face extinction in the wild.

Hosted by the Rare and Endangered Species Trust (REST) of Namibia, the event attracted hundreds of visitors with the main goal of creating awareness.

REST founder and manger Maria Diekmann said that the while the event was “a fantastic fun day … its real purpose was to create awareness of a terrible trend currently taking place in Namibia and all of southern Africa”.

In particular, Diekmann pointed out that ruthless poachers have devised new ways, in which to prevent their activities from being detected, which include killing vultures attracted to the carcasses of poached wildlife, such as elephants.

“Elephant poachers have begun lacing killed elephant carcasses with poison after cutting out the tusks for the illegal ivory trade. Vultures land at the carcass in small numbers, but when they fly off together after feeding, their numbers can be in the hundreds. Poachers have realized that this fly-off often alerts authorities to the poaching incident”.

To prevent this natural alert system, poachers poison the carcasses, preventing the birds from flying off and dying instead.

Diekmann referred to a much-publicized incident in 2013, where at least 600 vultures were killed on a poached elephant carcass. “Since it was breeding season, it is believed that almost 100 percent of the chicks were then later abandoned by the remaining parent when they were forced to find food for survival”.

She expressed concern about the number of elephant poached in Namibia in during the past few years, which increase the chances of vulture poisonings.

According to reports from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) in 2012, 78 elephants were poached in Namibia and 38 in 2013. Diekmann however believes the number for 2013 is much higher.

Diekmann added that another mass poisoning took place in Zimbabwe in 2013 and only recently, vultures were poisoned via a carcass in Botswana, near the Namibian border.

Through weekly feedings at the “vulture restaurant” at REST, Diekmann says it has become evident that there has been a decline in local vulture numbers.

She said, “initial research is indicating that perhaps over 50 percent or more of the entire vulture population has been lost in one year”. She said that conservationists from Namibia, Botswana and South Africa are urgently seeking funding in order to take immediate actions to address the problem. Vultures, she explained, form an essential part of an eco-system, as they” prevent the spread of disease in our wildlife, domestic animals and human populations, so the economy of Namibia depends on them in their natural environment more than any other animal”. She said they are “vital” animals, partly because “they may be completely immune to diseases such as anthrax”.

Members of the Namibian Air Force, private flight operators and South Africa aircraft manufacturers, amongst others, attended the event and entertained the crowd.

The audience was entertained by a variety of air maneuvers, including a group of Desert Sky divers.

Diekmann said the event attracted wide support from local people and businesses in Otjiwarongo, as well as support from Air Namibia and Namibian tourist organizations. The next event is slotted for 2016.