Government can help the country’s metal and fabrication industry expand through the provision of preferential tenders on national construction projects,
Sam Geiseb, who is the growth facilitator for the industry, said in an interview this week.
Geiseb said since government is the biggest procurer of goods and services, it can take deliberate steps to support the industry.
With youth unemployment very high, Geiseb said graduates from vocational training centres can start companies if they were given the necessary support.
He was speaking at the third Southern African Development Community (SADC) Industrialisation week Expo which was hosted by the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development this week.
The first two expos were held in Gaborone and Johannesburg.
Geiseb said Namibia should reduce its dependency on South Africa for metal fabrication by supporting local companies.
“We always depend on big brother South Africa,” he said.
Statistics issued by the trade ministry at the expo shows that 110 companies across Namibia are involved in metal fabrication.
The statistics, which are based on research by the ministry and the German development agency, GIZ, also revealed that in nominal terms, the fabricated metal industry’s value addition rose from N$247 million in 2007 to N$697 million in 2014, while in real terms it increased by N$100 million to N$504 million over the same period.
The ministry said all the companies apart from two were Namibian-owned.
While a few companies recorded turnovers of less than N$1 million, half of the companies interviewed had turnovers of between N$10 million and N$130 million.
According to the metal fabrication survey, Namibian companies are involved in manufacturing industrial steel and aluminium steel mainly for the construction sector.
Some of the companies are also involved in manufacturing parts and accessories for motor vehicles, particularly bull bars, tow bars and trailers.
The ministry’s survey also revealed that the most common form of industrial steel used by the Namibian metal manufacturers is mild steel.
It is estimated that steel traders in Namibia imported some 30,000 tonnes of steel in 2015.
At the peak of government construction projects about five years ago, the demand for reinforced steel was estimated at 3,000 tonnes per month.
Metal fabrication and its associated value chains have been identified by the government as a potential area that can help Namibia’s industrialisation process as part of the National Development Plans.
The International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities defines the industry as the manufacture of fabricated metal products except machinery and equipment.