Namibia plans wool factory

The Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development says it’s in the process of commissioning a feasibility study to determine the possibility of setting up a wool processing factory in the country.
The ambitious plan, according to the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Gabriel Sinimbo, is already in the implementation stages.
“The ministry recently advertised for proposals to undertake a feasibility study for a wool processing plant in Namibia. The purpose of the feasibility study is to establish, among others, what it would take to establish a viable wool processing project,” he said.
Sinimbo said although the final implementation of the processing plant will be determined by the outcome of the study, the move is in line with governments ‘Growth at Home’ strategy, which among other things, aims to support value addition and diversification of the local economy in sectors such as agro-processing, fish-processing, steel manufacturing and metal fabrication, chemical, jewelry and the automotive industries.
“The rationale is the need for local value addition, economic growth and growth sustainability as well as all associated development benefits that can be derived from processing or value addition activities,” he said.
Asked on details of the planned implementation structure and likely costs should the project materialises, Sinimbo said this will be determined by the proposed study.
“As such, any details regarding investors and whether government will have a stake in the project are yet to be determined by the feasibility study in question.
“Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that as a ministry mandated to ensure industrialisation in the country, we will devote all our efforts to ensure that the project comes to fruition should it be proven to be viable and beneficial to the economy and the people of Namibia, and this will be achieved by either public investment or private investment or a combination of both.”
He said Swakara Sheep would be used as the main source of raw materials for the factory, with the final products expected to be exported , while some will be sold locally.
 “Namibia predominantly produces coarse wool (from the Swakara Sheep), which is suitable for carpet making and felting rather than clothing. As already pointed out, the majority of marketable wool has always been exported to South Africa where, once processed is exported to markets within and outside of South Africa for carpet weaving and industrial felting.
“Namibia weavers also import the processed wool from South Africa and it’s costly for them. Therefore, as part of the ministry’s mandate this study is necessitated to ascertain the viability of setting up a local wool processing plant to serve both the local and export markets,” he said.
Plans for the proposed wool processing plant come after the country faced a major setback in 2008 with the closure of the Ramatex clothing and textile factory, which turned cotton (imported duty free from West Africa) into textiles for the US market, due to viability challenges.