Saturday, 30 August 2014

Namibia: new gravel road arandis to Areva Mine

Arandis, Namibia - A 28 kilometre gravel road is now linking Arandis to the Areva's Trekkopje Mine in the hilly tops of Erongo. "Areva has been a serious development partner and has contributed immensely to the social economic transformation of our town through the partnership that we have shared over the years," Arandis Mayor, Daniel Muhuura said at the opening last week Friday.

The road was constructed by the engineering team of Areva Resources NAmibia's and the onsite road maintenance contractor HH Schultz. Areva Namibia's Managing Director, Hilifa Mbako, said that the new road will be beneficial to the mines employees was the road will be safer and shorter in terms of travelling.

Refurbishment of Lüderitz waterfront

Refurbishment of the demolished old power station at a cost of N$230 million, which is part of the second phase of the Lüderitz Waterfront Development is on track.
The second phase of the waterfront has attracted participation of three government ministries, namely, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

About 120 people have been employed to perform various jobs – this figure is going to rise slightly next year, as more bricklayers would be required to complete the task.

“In 2009 cabinet directed these ministries to support the Lüderitz waterfront project, to set up the institute of higher learning satellite under the auspices of the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN). About 60 percent of this project is earmarked for the promotion of education and training under the auspices of the Polytechnic of Namibia, where about 30 percent of the space provided is for indoor and outdoor sport facilities, while the remaining 10 percent will cover the Maritime Museum,” said the CEO of the Lüderitz Waterfront, Fluksman Samuehl.

The construction of the project commenced in June 2013, and the estimated period is about 27 months at a cost of N$230 million.

Completion date for the project is expected to be the end of 2015 in line with the soon-to-be-unveiled Namibia University of Science and Technology that should start with its operations in 2016.

On 19 August stakeholders involved in the project were shown around the construction site by architect Bob Mould and the CEO of the Lüderitz waterfront with the aim to assess progress on the old power station by the multi-disciplinary team. This was done with the purpose of allowing the media to acquaint themselves with the progress of the project and seek clarity on matters of interest and also to allow TransNamib to assess the waterfront development initiative so as to render support in favour of local economic development (LED).

“The old power station is a large historical building located at the edge of the sea, established in 1911 and listed as one of the largest buildings in Namibia. And the Lüderitz waterfront second phase is also at an advanced stage of implementing Namibia’s first ever shopping centre, waterfront apartments and a new 70-room four-star waterfront hotel,” said Samuehl.

The CEO of the waterfront said they were excited with the development as it aims at growing the Lüderitz waterfront and Lüderitz as a town and not forgetting the diversity income streams which will strengthen the company’s profit margin. The Lüderitz waterfront development concept seeks to link the central business district of the town to the water’s edge, striving to bring people to the water by connecting a series of public urban spaces through attractive pedestrian routes.

This development intervention is geared towards making Lüderitz a student town by 2016, enhancing the town’s tourism appeal and to locate Luderitz as a significant commercial centre in southern Namibia.

The first phase of the Lüderitz waterfront started with construction work towards the end of 2000 and was completed in 2002.

This phase consists of general shops, offices, flats, coffee shops and a restaurant.

Government initially injected about N$35 million, and of this amount about N$7 million was utilised to build non-commercial properties such as a public square where the popular annual crayfish festival is held yearly and other events of public significance, a pedestrian jetty, walkways, paving of Hafen Street, parking facilities as well as street lighting, amenities crucial for the town. Old-Power-Station

The first phase hosts some SOEs as tenants, such as the New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC) office, Air Namibia and the Social Security Commission (SSC), as well as private institutions. Several SMEs are also housed in the modern business complex in town which tourists can access easily, while boat trips for leisure take place from the waterfront premises and passenger cruisers dock at the waterfront, among others.

As a result of the first phase, more corporations opened offices, including some ministries, at the waterfront and occupancy rate of rental space rose to 98 percent during the last few years.

About 75 people are currently permanently employed as a result of this phase.  Of these people, about 70 percent are made up of women who are either appointed as managers representing their respective organisations or SME business owners. The Lüderitz waterfront is clearly a catalyst for economic development for the town as well as for the greater //Karas Region.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

New tourist train to be introduced in Botswana

Botswana Railways (BR) has announced plans to introduce a tourist train to offer both local and international tourists an opportunity to explore Botswana and the neighboring countries, privately run Yarona FM reported on Monday. Delivering a strategy aimed at positioning Francistown as the transport and logistics hub and strategic gateway into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) BR business development director said the idea is at its final stages.

Makuke said the tourist train will take tourists from Francistown in Botswana, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe before Livingstone in Zambia and back into the wildlife capital of Botswana - Kasane.

The train will be similar to the famous Shongololo train of South Africa where tourists will be served with snacks and beverages while enjoying the beauty of Southern Africa.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Veld fires season in Namibia

Windhoek with its booming population of more than 300 000 residents is a potential hot spot for devastating veld fires this time of the year and the city's fire brigade already attends to between eight and ten fires in and around the capital on a daily basis.

And the seasonal August winds could make this situation considerably worse in the days to come.

Senior station officer of the Windhoek Fire Brigade Jeffrey Mayanga yesterday appealed to every resident for full cooperation with the fire brigade and to report any veld fires in residential areas immediately.

"We are always ready and fully trained. We have the infrastructure and equipment to deal with any type of fire but we need the close cooperation of citizens to combat potentially deadly fires. We don't hunt for smoke; we put out fires," said the senior station officer.

Statistics indicate uncontrolled forest and veld fires destroy some five to seven million hectares of land in Namibia annually and these fires are now a real threat again during the driest months of the year, coupled with the ever-present threat of strong winds in August.

Mayanga says the presence of wind makes their job more difficult because a small fire in or near a neighbourhood can result in a virtually uncontrolled veld fire with devastating effects.

"Fires started close to houses with thatched roofs pose an added risk and owners of such houses should be extra careful and install sprinkler systems on those roofs. The bottom line is that every resident should adhere to standard fire regulations to avoid the risk of uncontrollable fires," said Mayanga.

Despite the National Forest and Veld Fire Management Campaign driving home this message regularly, millions of hectares of valuable grazing are continuously destroyed, while the productivity of land is compromised and even human lives are lost.

Uncontrolled veld fires are sometimes caused by lightning during the rainy season, but mostly by people in the dry season.

Namibians have been reminded again that it is the responsibility of every citizen to help curb fires. Regions most affected are usually Zambezi, the Kavangos, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa, but parts of Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Kunene and Khomas also fall prey to these fires.

Some of the reasons for poor fire control and management practices, experts indicated, are due to inadequate incentives to take control measures because of unclear property rights in communal lands, inadequate coordination and cooperation between villagers, confusion caused by overlapping laws, traditional rules and inadequate skills and resources.

Veld fires destroy valuable timber and forest products such as grass for grazing, grass for thatching, and animals. The damaged environment also has an adverse impact on the tourism sector, one of Namibia's most important earners of foreign revenue.

The fight against uncontrolled forest and veld fires has become a multi-stakeholder commitment over the years and these include the Emergency Management Unit and the various government ministries, together with the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) and Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU).

Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, every year calls on all Namibians to take precautionary measures against veld fires.

"Any irresponsible acts that may result in the outbreak of veld fires anywhere in Namibia will and must be regarded as a criminal offence and those responsible will and must be prosecuted and legally punished," Mutorwa was quoted as having said.

Precautionary measures against veld fires include the scraping of fire belts, keeping dams full and having firefighting equipment at hand.

Land owners are implored to give a plan of their farms and infrastructure to their farmer association, so that the necessary precautions can be taken.

Following the good rains this season, the NAU has also cautioned members and especially charcoal burners against veld fires.

Namibia: Evaluating Lüderitz Crayfish Festival

The Lüderitz Town Council hosted a breakfast meeting with stakeholders last week Friday to do a follow up on the Lüderitz Crayfish Festival that took place in April this year.

According to the mayor of Lüderitz, Suzan Ndjaleka, the turn out at this year's crayfish festival has once again proved that it (festival) is getting bigger and more popular, and therefore contributing to the economic upliftment of the town.

However, as the festival develops the need for bigger and permanent venues to accommodate all activities for the festival has become a challenge for the Lüderitz Town Council. The mayor said the current venue, the Waterfront Harbour Square, although a magnificent site might not have the capacity to accommodate the festival in the near future.

"Attendance at the business conference was good and with improved organisation could add more value to developments of the town," said Lüderitz Town Council Chief Executive Officer, Aunie Gebhard.

On the entertainment front, she said performances were well arranged although the festival could not attract key targeted artists, as the event dates coincided with the NAMAs.

Gebhard also reported that the launch and fundraising gala dinner for the Crayfish Festival, earlier this year, was well attended raising N$134 000 in the sale of table and dinner tickets, while N$664 152 was received through pledges and table sales.

She further reported that out of the 145 exhibitors who applied at the 2014 Lüderitz Crayfish Festival, 95 made their payments and 32 of them were corporates, 10 SMEs were from outside Lüderitz and 53 SMEs from Lüderitz.

According to the analysis, the number of exhibitors was satisfactory and complied with the aim of adding value to the festival. Different corporates added the element of information sharing, brand positioning and marketing of services and products available in different sectors.

Next year's festival is planned for the first week of May.

Employees' education at Gondwana

The Financial Literacy Initiative (FLI) Secretariat and the Gondwana Collection Namibia have announced a
cooperation to deliver financial education, through a FLI Financial Wellness Workplace Programme to Gondwana employees.
The cooperation is formalised by a Memorandum of Understanding signed on 29 July. One of the key areas that have priority is monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the programme for further development.
Already 10 Gondwana Volunteers have been trained as Peer Educators at the workplace through the
Training-of-Trainers (TOT) Programme and are consequently facilitating training in their respective regions. The program covers topics ranging from basic numeracy, money and wellbeing, saving, budgeting, spending, bank accounts, borrowing, retirement, finances and children, as well as managing a side business.
The Financial Literacy Initiative was first launched in March 2012 by the Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, to enhance financial education for individuals and small and medium enterprises in Namibia.
The initiative has grown in the industry and now works with more than 40 platform partners from the private,
public and civil sectors.
The financial wellness program for workplaces is also supported by print material such as posters, flyers and

booklets, translated into various Namibian langua-ges.
FLI activities also include interactive educational undertakings such as street theatre, TV and radio shows; and financial literacy training for individuals and micro, small and medium enterprises in Namibia.

Dangerous leopard put down at Spitzkoppe, Namibia

A leopard which attacked and seriously injured two communal farmers in the Spitzkoppe area near Usakos was put down on Monday.

The attack took place last Friday after the leopard had killed a donkey in the area the day before.

The owner of the donkey in the area, 67-year-old Willem Goaseb and a friend Andries Nangombe, set a trap close to the donkey's carcass.

The leopard was caught in the wire snare, but managed to break free with the wire around its neck.

When Goaseb and Nangombe trekked the leopard with the intention to kill it, the leopard attacked the two men, landing both in the Usakos State Hospital.

Confirming the incident to Nampa yesterday, the deputy Director of Parks in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in the Erongo region, Ulrich Boois, said the leopard was indeed killed.

"We decided it must be killed because it is a danger to humans and animals," he said, adding that the search for the leopard started on Saturday.

Boois said Gert van der Walt, a trophy-hunter from the #Gaingu Conservancy, managed to trek the animal and kill it.

Goaseb and Nangombe are still in hospital, but are both reported to be in stable condition.

Botswana becomes a refuge for South Africa’s rhino

Botswana is to become new home to dozens of rhinoceros from South Africa following the country’s decision to evacuate hundreds of the animals from its flagship reserve, Kruger National Park to safer places within South Africa and other countries with robust conservation systems.

In a recent story about the translocation, City Press quotes South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, as confirming her country’s intent.

“South Africa is considering a range of rhino strongholds, inclusive of national parks, provincial reserves, communal areas and private reserves…Part of the translocation will include the Southern African Development Community…We have already started discussions with Botswana, we are working with Zambia, we are working with other countries, but more intensely those two in particular,” she said. The paper also quotes South African National Parks’ large mammal ecologist Sam Ferreira as saying up to 500 rhino could be evacuated.

“If you want to give rhino a chance, you remove them from places where they have a high probability of being killed,” quotes City Press.

The Kruger National Park is estimated to have nearly 10,000 rhinos, having initially received 350 from Kwazulu-Natal in the 60’s.

Botswana’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and National Parks Neil Fitt confirmed South Africa had approached them seeking refuge for the animals.

“However, they have not finalised when and how many they will translocate to Botswana, but we understand most of the animals will be moved to different places within South Africa,” he said.

Fitt said notwithstanding the high cost of translocating such big mammals as rhino, Botswana was “very prepared” to receive the animals and hopes South Africa would send “a lot”.

For many years, Botswana has ensured a robust conservation system that brings together its various security organs and has to a great extent managed to keep poachers of especially large mammals such as elephant and rhino at bay.

Further collaborative efforts between government and conservation groups have ensured the success of the re-introduction of black and white rhino in Botswana. The efforts followed a1992 survey that showed only 19 white rhino remained, while the black rhino was classified as “locally extinct” in Botswana.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

News from Farm Omandumba, Namibia

Some exciting news on Omandumba Farm in the Erongo Region. Omandumba has started with the building of 8 new en-suite guestrooms, situated a little off-side from the main house.
The rooms are set in 4 units with each 2 bedrooms. The farm is famous for its family friendly atmosphere where guests can enjoy true Namibian Farm hospitality, surrounded by magnificent nature, goats, chicken, cats, dogs, doves and soon cattle again. Home made specialities like smoked game meat, cheeses & jams and informative talks around the camp-fire with the owners, add to the allure of this homely farm. 
The farm  will be be open for business until construction works are finished in January 2015.

Highlights at Omandumba
Omandumba offers wild, romantic granite landscape and fantastic vistas - some of the best in the Erongo Region!
Well preserved rock engravings & paintings are Omandumba's hidden gems! Explorations on the farm offer unique rock formations and an interesting Fauna, Flora and birdlife. Nature drives & rock climbing afford visitors with attractive activities. Listen to the sound of silence and enjoy the tranquility of nature during self-guided walks in the country side.

The Living Museum of the San people
Visitors can get an interesting insight into traditional Buschman culture at a cultural village situated a mere 2 km away from Omandumba.  Guests may interact in the activities as the Ju/'Hoansi San people show their skills at arrow making and arrow shooting, teach how to make fire & jewellery and explain natural health remedies. Visitors may join in on a hunting and gathering trip or experience their song and dance. Pre-bookings are only necessary for larger groups. Self-drive customers may visit the San people at any time between 8-17h00.

Camping Facilities & Self-Catering Farmhouse
All camp sites are situated in-between sublime granite scenery, far apart from each other, thus offering privacy for each separate group.  Showers, toilets & waterpoints are available (no electricity).
Experience how it feels to stay on a Farm on your own.  The self-catering Farmhouse lies 8 km from Omandumba.  There are 2 rooms inside the house and one room outside. Shitemo and Pontianus will keep the water for the shower warm and will help you with anything you need around the house.  The Farmhouse is situated on its own at the foot of the "Grober Gottlieb Mountain".

Namibia: Statement By Minister of Health and Social Services

Republic of Namibia
Ministry of Health and Social Services



Dr. Richard Nchabi Kamwi, MP
Minister of Health and Social Services


12 August 2014

There is no Ebola in Namibia. Indeed there is no Ebola in the SADC Region. 

Ebola is a severe acute viral illness, usually with sudden onset.  It is a zoonotic disease.  Currently the disease is reported in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and recently Nigeria.

There are eleven thousand, seven hundred and eleven (11711) suspected cases and one thousand and seventy (1070) have been confirmed as Ebola and nine hundred and thirty two (932) deaths are reported.
About fifty (50) Health Care workers have been infected, with eighty (80) deaths.  Most cases are reported from Guinea.

Signs and symptoms in humans are flu like illnesses, sudden fever (more than 38 degrees), general body weakness and intense muscle pain, headache, sore throat when swallowing, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting with or without blood, conjuctivitis (red eyes), skin rashes, abdominal pain, hiccups, cough, chest pains and difficulty breathing.

What are the modes of transmission?

The disease is transmitted through direct contact with infected people (person to person) – contact with infected blood, secretions and other body fluids.  The risk of a person transmitting the disease is during the late stages of illness when the patient is vomiting, having diarrhea, or bleeding and during funerals with unprotected body and burial preparations. 

The risk during the early incubation period is low.  Airborne transmission among humans has not been documented usually health care workers and families of the sick patients are regarded as contacts and are at risk of contracting the illness.

Others are mourners who have direct contact with bodies during preparation and burial.

What are the chances of importation of the disease into Namibia?

The chances of a plane from West Africa landing directly at one of our local Airports is non-existent since we have no direct flights from West Africa to Namibia.  All flights go through O.R. Thambo Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa.  The likelihood of these people being detected with thermal detectors in South Africa before proceeding to Hosea Kutako Airport is HIGH. 

Other indirect routes are Luanda, Lusaka and Cape Town.  The Port Health Authorities at ALL major Ports Of Entry are highly sensitized and will be able to link up with Ministry of Health and Social Services in their respective regional health offices.

Currently, the National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee is active and the Contingency Plan has been activated.

The focus now is on Surveillance to be able to detect any importation.
The Ministry of Health officials are ready to investigate rumors and suspected cases. Please let us avoid rumour mongering.

All risk groups such as Health workers, Traditional Healers, cleaners and Ambulance personnel will be trained to be able to deal with the importation of any viral hemorrhagic fever.

Community participation and involvement is required.

Social molibazation activities have been strengthened.  The Ministry has set aside a floor in Windhoek Central Hospital 6 East to be used for treating any importation and is ready for that purpose.
Social Mobilization and Surveillance is ongoing.

Stakeholders and partners such as NAC, AIR NAMIBIA, WHO, CDC, City of Windhoek, NIP, Directorate Customs, Excise and Immigration, Namibian Tourism Board, Port Health and the Media are involved in the response activities.

 The Ministry of Health and Social Services is prepared and the situation is under control.

I am urging the community not to panic.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Namibia's adoption of the open skies policy could increase GDP by millions

Namibia is among a group of African nations which could achieve further economic growth by liberalising their air space, a new report says.
Member states could see their annual Gross Domestic Product grow by the millions, annually, and thousands of jobs created with the adaptation of an open skies policy, a liberal market between signatory states allowing airlines unlimited rights to fly.

The new report released this month by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in partnership with regional associations AFCAC and AFRAA, outlines the benefits African nations would gain by implementing a liberalised policy and uses 12 key markets as examples. These are: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda.

According to the study, if Namibia adopts the open skies policy, the GDP could additionally grow by US$94,2 million and create 10 600 jobs.

Air Namibia has yet to react to the report. The Namibian approached them for comment last week but by yesterday no reaction had come through.

Air transport plays a crucial role in driving economic and social developments in Africa through enhanced connectivity. However, regulations have made it difficult to provide inter-connectivity in the region.

“Governments should support the growth of the industry by fully liberalising African skies as intended by the Yamoussoukro Decision, while providing other facilitator assistance like implementing global standards in safety, security and regulations, reducing high charges, taxes and fees and removing visa requirements for ease of movement across the continent,” said the secretary general of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Elijah Chingosho.

According to the report, if the 12 countries were to adapt an open skies policy they would create 155 000 extra jobs in the market and grow the combined annual GDP of the nations by US$1,3 billion. Five million additional passengers a year would fly.

Africa agreed, in principle, to an open skies policy 26 years ago with the signing of the Yamoussoukro Declaration. The lack of implementation saw member states, under the Africa Union umbrella, come up with the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision, which looks at what its implementation would mean for African economies. It called for the deregulating of air services and opening regional air markets.


The secretary general of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Iyabo Sosina, says by not adopting the Yamoussoukro Decision, African countries are not only holding back growth in the aviation sector but their economies.

Additional growth could have a trickle down effect on the economy with other sectors gaining including the farmers who supply their produce to catering companies who work with airlines. Liberalisation leads to increased air services, which in turn facilitate growth in the sectors of the economy by supporting increased trade, attracting new businesses to the region, encouraging investment and enhancing productivity.

“It is essential that African governments use aviation as a critical driver of social and economic development,” said IATA’s director general and CEO, Tony Tayler. “Greater connectivity leads to greater prosperity.”

With a population of more than one billion people, untapped resources and poor infrastructure, the potential for aviation in Africa is big. Countries treat regional airlines with suspicion opting to open up, instead, to other third countries and not to each other.

There has been evidence in Africa where countries have liberalised their air markets and have seen substantial growth. An example is between Kenya and South Africa where, according to the report, liberalising the air market between the two countries in 2000, led to a 69% rise in passenger traffic.

Today, the route is served by five direct flights daily operated by Kenya Airways and South African Airways, in addition to services provided by RwandAir, EthiopianAir and LAM of Mozambique among other African carriers through their hubs. This has seen more competitive prices on the route and helped grow tourism for the two destinations with Kenya being one of South Africa’s key source tourist markets in the region.


The report shows one of the advantages would be the cost of flying across the continent coming down, with a benefit from fare reduction of between 25% and 35%.

“Liberalisation can lead to increased air service levels and lower fares, which in turn stimulates additional traffic volumes, facilitate tourism, trade, investment and other sectors of the economy and bring about enhanced productivity, economic growth and increased employment,” the report said.

Interconnectivity in Africa is said to be more expensive than travelling to Europe or the Middle East in some instances. This has been attributed to the lack of competition and the cost of operations in the region mainly hampered by price of fuel and taxes.

Fuel, one of the major headaches in the aviation sector, accounting for up to 40% of operational costs, is more expensive in Africa compared to other markets. African airlines pay about 21% more for jet fuel than the global average. This makes African airlines less competitive compared to other rival carriers which have been expanding their reach in Africa. In the past five years there has been increased frequencies from European carriers and especially Middle East ones who have positioned themselves to connect the continent through their hubs.

There is always concern that liberalisation will harm profitability of existing national carriers. The report says though there would be an impact initially there are major growth opportunities, especially on volumes.

Tayler said beyond economic growth liberalisation of the aviation sector “is a force for good and plays a major role in helping to reach the African Union’s mission of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa”.

Mine licences for friends

Enrichment of Namibia’s tiny elite of politically connected middlemen is set to continue, as government applauds multimillion-dollar deals that have made a handful of individuals fabulously wealthy through the sale of petroleum licences.
Namibia is yet to strike oil in commercial quantities but it is being called the next big oil frontier, whose offshore geological formations are like those of Brazil, where the giant Lula field was discovered in 2006.

Licences for oil in Namibia are acquired by well-placed individuals for a fee of between N$15 000 to N$30 000 and later sold for millions of dollars to international companies.

Calculations show that a cartel involving not more than 20 middlemen and politicians have benefited in the past six years from fewer than 10 transactions involving cash or shares in exchange for their prospecting licences.

Many beneficiaries are politicians, their children or their close business partners. The absence of regulation on such transactions allows room for the sale of licences.

The public disclosure of transactions would almost certainly reveal crony enrichment on a far larger scale.

It also means that despite the government policy of favouring locals when issuing licences, Namibians are losing the grip on the ownership of oil blocks.

Ninety per cent of the 90 oil-block licences issued are now held by international companies.

The list of licence-holders provided by government last week shows that locals only own an average of between 5% and 10% in each oil block compared to eight years ago, when they owned most of them.

Some companies have announced the sale of their licences but have refused to reveal the price, saying this is confidential.

Anglo-Dutch group Shell, for example, acquired a 90% stake in two blocks owned by Signet Petroleum, a company owned by a Malaysian company Mettiz Capital through London-listed Polo Resources. Mettiz Capital is owned by Shanghai-born businessman Michael Tang.

Shell did not divulge the amount it had paid for the block, saying it was a confidential transaction. However, investor watch website quoted Tang as saying that the deal was worth R220 million.

Apart from the transfer licence fee of N$30 000, the Namibian government did not receive a cent from the transaction in taxes.

Mines and energy minister Isak Katali admitted in 2011 that Namibia has become an “El Dorado of speculators and other quick-fix, would-be mineral explorers and mining developers”.

A report released by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) last year, “Namibia’s new frontiers – transparency and accountability in extractive industry exploration”, echoed claims of underhand deals in the exploration sector, and a worrying trend of pressure by government officials on foreign firms to link up with inexperienced, hand-picked local partners.

The report was also concerned about the influence of politically connected middlemen. It said that companies are asked to make empowerment deals with other companies that appeared to be little more than “briefcase firms” representing one or two favoured individuals.

IPPR also complained of the lack of laws, rules and guidelines dealing with conflicts of interest in the exploration industry.

Its director Graham Hopwood said it was a major concern that Namibia’s public officials – elected politicians and state employees – were not required to declare their assets.

“The failure to tackle these issues in law, systems and practice creates major loopholes which can be exploited by corrupt officials and business people,” he told amaBhungane.

He also said it is possible for a company to receive a licence and sell it in a multimillion-dollar deal without the fact ever being publicised.

“We do not know about the companies that senior public officials may have links to, because there are no working systems for public asset declaration in Namibia and information about companies at the registrar of companies often appears to be incomplete, missing and/or out of date,” he said.

“We can’t demand this information because government is under no compulsion to make it public – Namibia lacks an access to information law – and so much of it remains off limits or only partially released”.

Hopwood expressed concern that licences are allocated by a small group of officials under a non-statutory committee headed by a petroleum commissioner who has massive influence over the final decision.

The government decided to issue licences on a first-come, first-served basis in 2006.

The licences are cheap, entitling holders to conduct a preliminary exploration on an area to determine where prospecting should be focused. A “reconnaissance licence” costs N$15 000.

To apply for a full exploration licence, making the systematic prospecting for oil and gas deposits possible, a payment of N$30 000 is required. A 25-year production licence, allowing the holder to extract petroleum within a specific production area, also costs a mere N$30 000.

Namibians with a small stake in a licence block could be in line for a huge cash payout if a company sells out or reduces the size of its stake.

The petroleum commissioner, Immanuel Mulunga, said: “We are obliged to process every application that we receive, regardless of whether the applicant is, as you put it, well connected or not”.

“I can personally only be happy and proud to be overseeing an industry where Namibians have profited. What’s the point of doing business if you can’t make money from it?”

amaBhungane has compiled a list of the principal beneficiaries, who all have links with the government or the ruling party, Swapo.

Knowledge Katti

Businessman Katti is a friend of prime minister Hage Geingob, the probable next president of Namibia, and a business partner of liberation struggle stalwart Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.

Katti started getting oil licences in 2006 when the Namibian government decided to give preferential treatment to black-owned companies. The then minister of mines Erkki Nghimtina said Katti, in partnership with South African businessman Mxolisi Mbetse, had been awarded an exploration licence for three blocks.

Katti led two Namibian empowerment companies, Cumoxi Investments and Knowledge Resources, which owned 30% of the company awarded the rights, Mbetse’s Namibian Industrial Development Group (NIDG).

The same year Katti brought Namibian home affairs minister Iivula-Ithana into his other company, Kunene Energy, which received licences for three blocks off the Namibian coast measuring more than 10 000 square kilometres.

Katti sold Kunene Energy to Canadian-listed UNX Energy Corp in 2008. UNX described him in a media statement as “well positioned to assemble strategic interests in high-profile African oil and gas projects”.

The deal consisted of cash and shares in UNX. Also in 2008, UNX purchased Katti’s 30% of NIDG for US$1,5-million in cash.

In 2011, Brazilian oil company HRT bought UNX Energy Corp for $781-million (about R5-billion at that time) in a shares-only deal.

Katti and his partners, including minister Iivula-Ithana, are believed to have owned about 12% of UNX Energy at the time, giving them a paper windfall of around US$90-million.

HRT is now the second largest licence-holder in offshore Namibia, with ten blocks.

Iivula-Ithana declared the 15% interest she has held in Kunene Energy since 2006 to parliament.

She complained earlier this year in parliament that Namibia gets ‘scraps’ from natural resource deals. Her son Shafa Kaulinge’s company, Amis Energy, also holds three exploration licences.

Katti refused to answer detailed questions emailed to him. “Go to the government and ask them to respond to every concern you have. I have little time to entertain childishness or any nonsense,” he said.

Heinrich Ndume

Another well-connected individual who has made a fortune from the sale of licences is “Swapo” Ndume, son-in-law of Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Ndume is the director of Enigma Oil and Gas Exploration, a company that was bought by London-listed Chariot Oil and Gas in 2008 in a deal that valued Enigma at $47-million.

Alongside Katti’s companies, Ndume’s Enigma was one of the first black-owned oil concerns to secure licences.

According to its 2009 annual report, Chariot had licences covering 10 blocks, mostly acquired with Ndume’s assistance.

Chariot now controls close to 13 blocks, making it Namibia’s biggest offshore concession owner.

However, the two wells so far drilled by Chariot have been dry.

Desmond Amunyela and Lazarus Jacobs

Amunyela and Jacobs, co-owners of Paragon Investment Holdings have benefited from the sale of a licence covering 17. 295 square kilometres in the Walvis Basin.

Two years after acquiring it, Paragon sold its interest to Pancontinental Oil & Gas for US$4-million (N$40-million) last year.

Paragon’s interest in the block was reduced to 5%, while the Australian company’s stake increased to 95%.

Amunyela was unapologetic about selling the stake, saying this had been done to raise money for their other investments and branding the transaction “smart enterprising”.

Paragon is a private equity and management company with interests in property, marketing, extractive industry and media – including the weekly Windhoek Observer newspaper.

The Observer lobbied for the election of prime minister Hage Geingob as Swapo’s vice-president at the party’s 2012 congress, qualified him to be the next head of state.

Amunyela said his ties with Geingob date back as far as 1994. He again defended his relationship with the premier in July this year after admitting that he paid R1-million for Geingob’s trip to the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil.

Ironically, the paper has questioned the relationship between businessmen – whom it does not name – and government officials.

Paragon has bagged several government contracts, such as a duty-free shop at Namibia’s international airport.

Amunyela told AmaBhungane last week that there is nothing wrong with Namibians selling their licences, as oil is a natural resource that belongs to them.

“The truth is many of us do not have the expertise and skill to develop a mine or drill for oil. Partnerships with those in the know is good for Namibia to learn from,” he added.

Amunyela criticised politicians, saying some of them make “silly statements because they are out of depth with the portfolios they occupy and want to divert from their failures.

“Government officials should not make damaging statements at the expense of other Namibians who are only trying to make a living within the ambit of the law,” he said

Family and comrades

Other licence-holders who are politically powerful, or are linked by family or friendship to those in power, include:

• Helmut Angula, a Swapo politiburo member served as a minister or deputy minister in five portfolios (1990 and 2010) and headed the National Planning Commission. He is a director of Eco Atlantic and Eco Atlantic Namibia - the third-largest international company with rights over Namibian’s sea with an interest in nine oil blocks. His daughter, Phillipine Angula, runs Eco Namibia.

• Tobie Aupindi, vice-president of Hydrocarb Namibia, the local subsidiary of US-based multinational Hydrocarb Energy. Aupindi is a former Swapo think tank member, advising on party policies.

• Frans Mushimba, son of BEE mogul Aaron Mushimba, who is the brother-in-law of former president Sam Nujoma. Frans also has a joint venture with BP and Canada’s Serica Energy.

• Dantagob Gurirab, the son of National Assembly Speaker and former Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab. He co-owns Alphapetro, a former partner of Canada’s Petro Viking Energy. The licence they jointly held expired last year and has not been renewed.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Namibia: rhino terrorises Omuthiya residents

One pupil and an elderly resident sustained slight injuries after they were attacked by a lone black rhino which terrorised residents of Omuthiya in Oshikoto region on Monday.
The councillor of Omuthiya constituency, Armas Amukoto confirmed the incident and said the rhino first attacked pupils and teachers at Nicodemus Nashandi Primary School in the constituency.

He said the rhino invaded the teachers’ houses at the school, before attacking farmers in the area.

“The pupil and the elder were rushed to Omuthiya state hospital and they are both in a stable condition,” said Amukoto, adding that the rhino is believed to have strayed from Etosha National Park that is close to the constituency.

Amukoto further said classes at Nicodemus Nashandi school were suspended for the entire day yesterday to ensure the safety of the pupils, many of whom showed signs of fear, anxiety and nervousness after seeing the animal.

Amukoto said classes will resume today.

He said this was not the first time an endangered animal was spotted in the area, as the constituency is near Etosha national park where most of these animals come from.

The rhino was captured by the nature conservation officers in the early morning hours of yesterday and was returned to Etosha National Park in northern Namibia.

Amukoto cautioned the residents of Omuthiya to avoid walking at night and always report any endangered animal they see wandering in the area to the police or the council’s offices.

Namibia: marching against constitutional changes

Namibian civil society organisations will hold a peaceful demonstration against the proposed changes to the Namibian Constitution today.
The various non-governmental organisations said they just want the people to get a chance to understand and decide whether the wide-ranging changes to the country’s supreme law are in the nation’s interest.

The Namibia Non-governmental Organisation Forum (Nangof) Trust chairperson, Sandi Tjaronda, said the civil society organisations want to see citizens participate in a genuinely participatory process, adding that the country would have only found out about the changes to the constitution the day it was tabled in parliament had it not been for the media, who relied on leaked information.

Tjaronda said the peaceful demonstration is to ask the National Assembly to halt the process to allow for the citizens to be consulted.

In a show of strength and solidarity, NamRights’ head Phil ya Nangoloh said the proposed changes are “unconstitutional and not in the public interest.” He also added that the proposed changes are going to the heart of separation of powers and checks and balances in the country.

Nangof Trust’s deputy chairperson Vida de Voss emphasised that the demonstration is intended to make Namibians realise that they too have rights and powers equal even to those of the President by virtue of them being citizens.

The peaceful demonstration will be held today during lunch time at parliament, while Prime Minister Hage Geingob, in conjunction with the National Youth Council, will be holding a public discussion on the constitutional changes in Katutura tomorrow night.

This is also a move that has been frowned upon by the civil society, which is of the opinion that the Prime Minister should not be having public consultation, while the Bill is being debated in parliament. The public consultations should come first before the Bill is tabled.

Congress of Democrats (CoD) president Ben Ulenga also joined the fray, and yesterday denounced the proposed Constitutional changes.

Ulenga, at a media briefing, said the changes are brought about to serve Swapo’s interest and not that of the public and that they cannot be smuggled through the back door as it is being done.

“These amendments were made to clean up Swapo’s mess of wanting to have an equal gender quota in parliament without removing any of their male counterparts. It’s an opportunistic approach by the party to use the country’s fundamental law to solve their own mess. They should amend their own party constitution to include more women and not the country’s,” said Ulenga.

He further said that the amendments were made without proper consultations of the parties, “We were not properly consulted. I could not make it since I had to travel and the invitation came late. Initially, people were just informed of the ruling party’s proposals and were not requested for our contribution. “

He said it was unfair that the Constitutional amendments were made by one individual, Law Reform and Development Commission’s Sackey Shangala, while they are of concern to the entire public.

“Who is he to change the Constitution of the country alone?” Ulenga questioned, adding that he considered this an abuse of power.

Ulenga said there is no need for a position of a vice president, “For 24 years we have lived without that position, why now all of a sudden? What contribution will that position bring to the country, apart from the fact that it simply makes the system overly heavy.”

In reference to the parliamentary seats that will be increased from 74 to 104, Ulenga said the whole initiative was unfair and ‘pure fraud.’

Ulenga said politicians must be elected into parliament and not appointed while pointing out that for opposition political parties to get a seat in parliament it must have about 10 000 votes.

“If the president gets to appoint eight people into parliament that means, he will have the power of 80 000 votes in his hands and it is not necessary,” said Ulenga.

According to him, there was a standing committee that proposed a Constitutional Committee which will propose some amendments and they will then be circulated amongst the public for debate.

Trans-Kalahari railway progressing well

Windhoek, Namibia - The tendering for the feasibility study for the construction of the multi-billion dollar railway line connecting Botswana’s Mmamabula coal field to the port of Walvis Bay is expected to start before the end of this year, National Planning Commission (NPC) Permanent Secretary, Leevi Hungamo, informed yesterday.

“The tender process for the feasibility study will start this year and the report will be ready next year,” said Hungamo.

“The two governments are still working on logistics and setting up the project management office that will spearhead the project,” he said.

Asked whether there is any challenges faced by the project, Hungamo said currently  there are no challenges facing the project and all planned activities are on course.

“So far the cost of the project has not yet been established as the feasibility study is yet to be conducted,” said Hungamo.

“Even if the cost will be that much, the parties concerned will be able to secure the funds,” he said.

He further said it is important to note that this project will not be funded by the two governments but rather by a private sector developer.

However, given the distance and complexity of the project, it is anticipated that the construction may take three years.

The 1 500 km railway line will traverse the vast semi-arid, sandy savannah of the Kalahari Desert from Botswana to Namibia, with the sole benefit of connecting the landlocked Botswana to Namibia’s port of Walvis Bay, thus unlocking the value of coal mining in Botswana and power generation in the region. The railway line mirrors the existing Trans-Kalahari Highway or corridor, which links Botswana to  Walvis Bay, but stretches 1 900km from Walvis Bay through Windhoek, Gaborone in Botswana and Johannesburg to Pretoria in South Africa.

Construction of the project is expected to cost approximately N$100 billion (about US$9.2 billion). Financing will be sourced through private stakeholders. The Trans-Kalahari Highway was constructed at a cost of N$850 million and opened in 1998.

But Hungamo said that there has not been any study conducted to determine actual costing.

“The process to obtain financing from the private sector in order to secure the development has already commenced,” said Hungamo.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Duwisib Castle in southern Namibia reopens for tourism

Mariental, Namibia - The newly appointed Managing Director of Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR), Zelna Hengari, last week on Friday unveiled the reintroduced tourism landmark Duwisib Castle some 90 kilometres outside Maltahöhe.

"You need to love someone and be loved by somebody when you visit one of Namibia's landmark tourist attractions, the reintroduced Duwisib Castle in the Hardap Region," said Hengari at the ceremony.

The name Duwisib was derived from a Nama word which refers to the many Karakul sheep in the area.

In the beginning of the 1900's farmers on the 55 000-hectare Duwisib farm mostly farmed with Karakul sheep.

Hengari's remarks about love at the castle was in reference to the history and establishment of the Duwisib Castle as it originated from love between two people. German Baron Von Wolf built the castle for his American wife, Jayta Humphreys, to express his love for her.

They met in Germany and he decided to build the castle in the middle of nowhere as a token of his love.

The castle is today a historic site and a national monument, which is a convenient stopover for people travelling from Sesriem and Sossusvlei in southern Namibia.

Apart from being a gift of love Duwisib Castle was a dream turned into a reality for Baron Von Wolf, who planned to breed racing horses in the semi-desert environment.

Unfortunately, his dream could not be realised as he was killed in the First World War in Germany, depriving him of living in the castle with his beloved wife.

His wife decided not to continue living at the castle without him and left most contents in the building and returned to her country. The contents, mostly antique furniture, now form a major part of the articles exhibited at the castle, which also doubles as a museum.

The reintroduced Duwiseb Castle houses five bedrooms and 10 camping sites. There are ample picnic sites, a kiosk, an underground wine bar, a curio shop and a sundowner roof tower.

The castle was re-certificated by the Chief Executive Officer of the Namibian Tourism Board, Digu //Naobeb.

In a speech read on her behalf by her special adviser, Hansina Christiaans, Hardap Regional Governor, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, welcomed the reintroduction of the castle as one of the popular tourist destinations in the region.

She said the castle is a historical site where visitors can enjoy the history of Namibia and the NWR should be commended for its commitment to developing, modernising and expanding tourism facilities and infrastructure.

"Tourism has been identified by government as one of the national priorities in addressing poverty alleviation and unemployment," she stated.

The relaunched Duwisib Castle is run by a fulltime manager and personnel and is equipped with a kitchen where meals are prepared for tourists and other visitors. It also emerged at the re-launch that the castle will now also cater for weddings, birthday celebrations and parties.

Namibia: Wlotzkasbaken a 'Bottleneck' for Development

Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua said Wlozkasbaken and the court case around it remain a serious bottleneck in the process of development.

"The settlement is in and out of courts, which hampers any development programme of the regional council. While the regional council sees a prestige suburb development, others see that there must be a bottleneck," said Mutjavikua at his 'state of the region' address on Friday.

Since the year 2000, the regional council and regional government ministry want to expand and develop the holiday settlement about 35 kilometres north of Swakopmund by allocating additional plots of land for new houses to be built there.

The Wlotzkasbaken Home Owners' Association agreed to accept a proposed layout but on conditions to which the regional council did not agree. This led to a series of legal actions which saw the parties in and out of courts for several years. To date, the association has had rulings in its favour which led to appeals by the regional council.

Former chief regional officer (CRO) of Erongo, Linus Garoëb, who is now representing the Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development at the Omaruru Municipality, told Mutjavikua on Friday during a questions and answers opportunity, that he was very concerned about the long time it was taking to resolve the Wlotzkasbaken issue. "The 'bosberaad' over Wlotzkas has been through three governors, and three CROs and yet when you do some research, it is apparent that there are no formerly disadvantaged people living in Wlotzkas. Hakahana is one of the black spots in Omaruru; DRC is the black spot in Swakopmund; but Wlotzkas is a white spot while the others are black spots. How is the governor going to address the issue that we can send or station the previously disadvantaged black or previously disadvantaged white people there to also get erven at Wlotzkas as soon as possible?" said Garoëb.
Mutjavikua called Garoëb's question "tough" because he is talking of "black and white spots".
"We would like to come to the table with the stakeholders and also hear from them what they want. The obvious fact that we all know, in Namibia, since Independence, there will never be a suburb that will be there for some people and not for others. Even in the DRC you will find white residents. There is no place where one will say this is only for white and this is only for black.

But since the matter is sub judice, we will like to meet the stakeholders who are mature Namibian people. They are Namibian, they were born here and they have no interest anywhere else," answered Mutjavikua.

He maintained that the council has plans to develop the service erven "for all the Namibian people to benefit".

"However, the problem we are having is that the matter remains in court and no investor wants to put their money in a matter which is still involved in legal action," he said.

Namibia: Wildlife auction is a success

Windhoek - A total of 79 buffaloes were sold for an average price of N$114 430 and the highest price of N$300 000 was paid for a bull at the recent game auction in the capital. The auction raised N$10.6 million that was paid into the Game Products Trust Fund, which invests in conservation and community development programs.

All the buffalo, eland, sable antelope and giraffe that were on sale at the wildlife auction of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, on Thursday, 31 July were sold in a catalogue auction hosted by Agra at the Safari Hotel and Conference Centre.

The buffaloes, which due to Namibian law were not for sale to Namibian farmers, were bought by three South African buyers - Oryx Management Services, André Els Safaris and MW de Jager.

The highest price paid for sable was N$90 000. Four giraffe-breeding groups of five each, a total of twenty giraffes, were sold for an average price of N$12 500 per animal.

Eland breeding groups were sold in groups of 10 and achieved a price per animal of N$5 500 for two groups and N$6 000 for three groups. The sable, giraffe and eland were not available for South African buyers and were bought by local farmers. The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Uahekua Herunga, said the auction was held for good conservation practices. "Sale of live animals is not only one of the direct sources of income from the wildlife industry but also contributes to conservation by increasing the distribution range and creation of meta-populations across the range," he said. In attendance was Josue Rodrique Ngouonimba, the Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Republic of the Congo and his delegation, as part of an agreement of cooperation between the two governments to share information and expertise.

Namibia: MCA is closing down

The Millennium Challenge Account-Namibia is in the process of shutting its doors in Namibia, having spent N$2,76 billion (US$257,9 million) over the past five years up to the end of June.
Since inception in 2008, when the Namibian government signed an MCA Namibia Compact with the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, 81,6% of total funds made available for development in Namibia, were spent.
MCA-Namibia officials, this week preparing to depart for final hand-over of projects scattered all over the country, are confident that by the end of the contract on 16 September, 98% of the available US$304,5 million will be spent. Highlights of the program have been the upgrading, renovation and equipping of 28 schools in 10 Namibian regions, including construction of 212 new classrooms, 27 new toilet blocks, 158 bachelor teacher flats and 29 new three-bedroom teacher houses. Regional study resouce centres were built in Oshakati, Helao Nafidi and Gobabis.  The MCA-Namibia initiative also delivered 1,7 million English, science and mathematics textbooks.
In tourism MCA-N invested N$357 million to build staff villages and infrastructure at the Etosha National Park. A modern website was developed for the Namibia Tourism Board. Also, 31 community conservancies enjoyed training and technical assistance, while 2 135 common game and 651 rare game species were trans located to 31 conservancies. A total of 13 joint-venture grants amounting to N$61,5 million, were awarded for new lodges, expansions and renovations.
In terms of agriculture the MCA-Namibia fund procured 1 848 million radio frequency device ear-tags, 48 computers, 28 printers, 90 barcode readers, applicators for national veterinary staff to tag and trace cattle anywhere in the country. The project registered 1 290 households in 56 Northern Communal Area communities owning 28 100 cattle and 22 700 head of small stock. State-of-the-art state veterinary offices where built in Outapi, Okakarara, Epukiro, Omuthiya and Eenhana at a cost of N$98 million.
Perhaps the work on indigenous natural products was most widespread training 9 155 producers, setting up 67 producer organisations, and providing N$65 million in equipment, grants, technical support and capacity building.
Apart from the regional study centres to be built, the MCA compact will close before work revamping the Etosha National Park is completed, and before the Art and Craft Centre in Swakopmund is completed. A further N$24 million will be needed for government to complete these projects on its own.

Construction of Swakopmund's Strand Hotel is progressing well

Ohlthaver & List Leisure gave Namibia a peek-preview this week of progress with its Strand Hotel construction project on the Swakopmund Mole, an N$350 million project which is to become the crown in the holiday town’s accommodation crown.
When the Strand Hotel opens its doors on 1 August next year, this will be the central coast’s third four-star hotel, according to the Hospitality Association’s chief executive officer Gitta Paetzold, and it would add 125 rooms to Swakopmund’s accommodation sector with its existing capacity of well over 3 000 beds, according to O&L Group spokesperson Roux-ché Locke.
In a statement, the managing director of O&L Leisure (a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List Group), Brian Hutchinson explained construction to the hotel complex’s third floor is soon to commence. It required 1 700 employees, 670 tonnes of reinforced steel and 4 224 cubic metres of concrete to complete the first two floors, according to the official building statistics.
“We are delighted to inform the Swakopmund community and the Namibian public at large that the Strand Hotel development is progressing well,” said Hutchinson.
Once in operation, Strand Hotel will inject 250 job opportunities into the Swakopmund economy and become an international destination for tourists and locals alike.

Conservancy chairpersons' forum discusses progress in Namibia

Once a year, the people who run 20% of the country get together. When you look at it that way, the annual Conservancy Chairpersons' Forum is an important event, organised by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Namibia's 79 communal conservancies are spread right across the country, and the burning issues stem from their success: human-wildlife conflict and poaching are on the increase because wildlife populations are growing.

The forum took place at the Safari Court Hotel on 17 and 18 July. Environment deputy minister Pohamba Shifeta gave the keynote address, noting progress and challenges. Two more Zambezi conservancies will be gazetted in August, bringing the total to 81 self-governing conservation entities, where local people have rights over the utilisation of wildlife and the distribution of benefits derived from it. The ministry's biggest challenge, stated Shifeta, is the recent upsurge in elephant and rhino poaching. He noted that the protection of wildlife is not only about reacting once an animal has been killed, but involves the prevention of poaching.

For many conservancies with an income from trophy hunting or joint ventures with tourism operators, the first and main expense is the salaries of game guards who are in the front line of poaching prevention. But not all conservancies are in areas with abundant wildlife or stunning scenery. For them, earning sufficient income to pay game guards is a pressing problem.

Kapenauarve Katjiveri is serving his second term as chairman of Otjituuo Conservancy, in Otjozondjupa. Well off the beaten track, the area is flat, thornveld savannah, and home to important species like the African Wild Dog. Like other Otjituuo residents, Katjiveri is a farmer who has lost stock to wild dogs, cheetahs and jackals. The conservancy has no income to compensate for the losses and the eight game guards are unpaid.

The hope for Otjituuo, says Katjiveri, is that the environment ministry will create a core wildlife area that may attract a trophy hunter, and where a campsite could be started.

If that works out, a joint venture with a lodge operator may follow. The income would pay for the game guards, and some benefits would flow to residents, providing potential compensation for livestock losses to predators.

Wildlife numbers have rebounded in many areas, especially Kunene, following drought and widespread poaching before the first conservancies were formed in the late 1990s. Conservancies have managed the increase, minimised poaching, and have been able to reap the rewards from photographic tourism, trophy hunting, and the harvesting of meat.

That's the dream for Jonathan Goliath, the chairman of !Gawachab in the deep south of Namibia, close to the Naute Dam and National Park. Goliath is an old man now, but he remembers herds of springbok teeming in the south, before poaching wiped them out. !Gawachab has no game guards and no income. Goliath wants a hunting concession that will provide meat to the elderly and to vulnerable children. He sees no hope for an income from the conservancy in the future, unless it can set up a campsite. But meat would be some incentive for game guards.

The financial sustainability of conservancies was a key theme of the Chairpersons' Forum. Clearly, some are doing very well, some less so, and some see little hope. Otjituuo's Katjiveri says the ministry must do more to support less well off conservancies. "If I have five children," he says, and two go to the Polytechnic and do well, but the others not; I can't say the other three are not my children. I have to support them."

The challenges discussed by the Forum: human-wildlife conflict, poaching, and the increasingly vocal lobby against hunting, all stem from the fact that wildlife is increasing. "If you are seeing lions on the road, what does that tell you?" asked John Kasaona, Kunene director of IRDNC, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation.

He went on to point out that other southern African countries are jealous of Namibia's conservation record and that the government should stand up to pressure from overseas about hunting. "People do not understand what we are doing," he said, "and are just tweeting."

The issue of the sustainable use of wildlife, which provides meat and trophy income for conservancies, is seen in more simplistic terms overseas said delegates to the Forum. "They should come here and see," says Raymond Kwenani from Salambala Conservancy in Zambezi, pointing to an aeroplane flying overhead. "If we stop hunting it will spell disaster for the conservancy. We pay compensation to farmers when crops and livestock are destroyed.

How will they be compensated if we have no income? Who will pay the funeral benefit of a person killed by an elephant? We have benefits now: jobs in the safari camp: skinners, trackers; meat from the trophy hunt and income from the hunter." IRDNC's Transboundary coordinator John Kamwi points out that wildlife is harvested in accordance with strict quotas on a sustainable basis, and he puts the choice more starkly: "Without hunting, all the conservancies will stop and all of the game guards will be unemployed."

Tour scammer shocks Walvis Bay

Johan Botha, a well-known train tourism operator who shot and killed a police detective in Johannesburg in a shootout last week, and then turned the gun on himself, sent shockwaves through sections of the Walvis Bay business community who only weeks ago dealt with him as he campaigned for a luxury tourist train of Zambezi Safaris to regularly call at Walvis Bay.
What aggravated people’s disbelief is the fact that Botha’s true name is Hendrik Wright and he used the name Johan Botha seemingly as part of a tourism scam he allegedly ran with his wife, Renette Wright and a secretary, Salome Klopper.
In the past several months, several South Africans, among others South African politician Japie Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus complained to among others TransNamib that they booked tours on the luxury train of Zambezi Safaris, but the tours were cancelled. Despite promises, they have not been refunded and angry clients had to make alternative arrangements to come for holidays in Namibia in attempts to at least not lose further expenses like air tickets on Air Namibia already booked and paid for.
The luxury train was used by the former Rovo’s Rail in Namibia, but after the company disappeared from the Namibian tourism scene, the train stood for years at a shunting yard at the Windhoek main station. In the close of 2013, a South African businessman signed an agreement with TransNamib in which the national rail carrier makes the train available at a fee to Zambezi Safaris and that Zambezi Safaris will then renovate the train for tourism operations in Namibia.
In April this year, the tourist train made a maiden call at Walvis Bay and in an interview with Informanté, Wright [Botha] released detailed information of his contacts with local businesses and institutions who could offer activities to the visiting passengers.
He also explained he had more than two decades of experience in the rail tourism business in Southern Africa.
However, as his, his wife and wife’s secretary’s alleged fraudulent activities took shape through statements by disgruntled prospective tourists, a South African Police Service detective, Warrant-Officer Ben Strydom, arrived at the Wrights’ home in Pretoria’s Montana Park suburb on 24 July this year. He had orders to arrest the couple for fraud.
When Wright saw the approaching police he fled on foot and was followed by Strydom who caught up with him. Wright allegedly drew a handgun and shot and killed and Strydom before getting in his car and sped off. A police chase ensued, but Wright managed to pull over and shot himself with his own handgun. Wright survived the shooting and is currently recovering under strong police guard in the high-care unit of the Steve Biko hospital.
Wright’s wife and Klopper were arrested and made a first appearance on charges of fraud in the Pretoria Noord magistrate’s court. They remain in custody and will lodge a bail application next week. It remains unknown whether Hendrik Wright would have made a sufficient recovery to also make a first appearance in the Pretoria Noord magistrate’s court on charges of fraud and also murder.

Замок в пустыне Намиб открылся для туристов

Замок Duwusib, расположенный в 90 километрах от намибийского городка Maltahöhe, открылся для посетителей. После многих лет забвения он приведен в порядок и должен стать важной достопримечательностью страны.

История замка очень романтична, сообщает All Africa. Он был построен в 1900-х годах немецким бароном фон Вольфом в знак любви к жене, американке Джайты Хамфрейс. Влюбленные хотели жить в уединенном месте вдали от мира. Увы, этой мечте не суждено было сбыться: барон был убит на Первой мировой войне, а его жена покинула замок, оставив там все ценности.

Теперь туристы смогут их увидеть – антикварную мебель, произведения искусства и предметы роскоши. Замок насчитывает пять спален и внешние помещения, которые теперь превращены в винные бары, места для пикника и кафе.