2018 business news highlights
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14 December 2018
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This year continued to be characterised by an economy in recession and reduced government spending, which accounts for about 60 percent of total spending in Namibia.
Apart from the recently opened Peugeot-Opel Assembly plant in Walvis Bay and the planned Otavi steel plant that is expected to produce 100,000 tons of steel, little in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) came to Namibia this year.  Hopes of an oil find faded when the two wells that were drilled offshore turned out to be dry.
 
January
Biokineticists lobbied Namfisa to cancel gym rebates
Biokineticists operating in the country are alleged to have lobbied the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) to cancel gym and wellness rebates, the Windhoek Observer established in January.
However, the Biokinetics Association of Namibia strongly denied this allegation. Chairman of the association, Henry Boshoff, said biokineticists had been negatively affected by the cancellation of the rebates programme.
 
February
De Beers ‘undervaluing Namibian diamonds’
Namdia claimed it was selling its 15 percent allocation of diamonds produced by Namdeb Holdings for over and above the De Beers selling book price.
Namdia said it sold diamonds worth over N$1 billion and paid N$60 million to the government in taxes.  In reaction, De Beers Country Director, Daniel Kali, said he could not comment on matters related to Namdia since he has no access to its selling mechanisms, their clients or what prices are paid for their diamonds.
 
Govt to unbundle NamPower
Government announced plans to unbundle power utility, NamPower, into generation, transmission and distribution units. Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, and Public Enterprises Minister, Leon Jooste, told the Windhoek Observer that government had already set the unbundling plans in motion.
 
March
Justice building conversion to cost N$430m
Government’s plan to make money from its properties started taking shape, amid revelations that a project to convert the Ministry of Justice offices in Windhoek into a multipurpose building, made up of offices, commercial or residential facilities, will cost about N$430 million.
 
Defence to splash N$5 billion on bases
The Ministry of Defence was set to spend N$5,2 billion on various construction projects in the period up to 2020/2021 despite a government-wide freeze on non-productive spending.
The construction projects came at a time when the ministry sent on leave about 1,000 army personnel at seven bases around the country because it could no longer afford to feed them as well as foot their water and electricity bills.
 
April
Govt scraps plan to force businesses to sell 25 percent stakes
Government scrapped a clause in its economic empowerment framework that would have forced majority white-owned businesses to sell a 25 percent stake to previously disadvantaged Namibians, President Hage Geingob said.
 
Billions for railway upgrades
Government is set to spend at least N$5 billion in upgrading the country’s railway network over the next three financial years, according to the Ministry of Works and Transport budget documents.
The projects include the rehabilitation of the Southern Railway line section, Sandverhaar-Buchholbrum, the upgrading and the rehabilitation of the Auas-Luderitz Railway line extension.
 
May
Five regions targeted for garment factories
Five regions have been identified by the ministry of trade as potential locations for the garment manufacturing plants the government is planning to set up.
The targeted regions are Oshikoto, Otjozondjupa, Zambezi, Erongo and Kavango West.
According to the 2018/2019 budget document, government is planning to set up garment manufacturing companies at a cost of N$189 million.
 
June
Auditor General prays for more powers
Auditor General, Junias Kandjeke, is hopeful that proposed amendments to the State Finance Act will give his office more powers to bring to book public officials abusing State resources.
This comes as a trend is developing across Africa, where Auditor Generals are being given more powers to bring to book government officials accused of abusing tax payers’ money.
South Africa’s Parliament in May passed the Public Audit Amendment Bill‚ which gives the office of the Auditor-General more bite.
 
GIPF announces infrastructure fund
The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) announced plans to launch an infrastructure fund with a minimum funding capacity for projects worth N$100 million. This is an increase from the initial GIPF infrastructure fund launched in 2016, which had a minimum investment threshold of N$56 million.
 
July
Namcor guns for 50 percent import mandate
The National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) has laid out plans to have its 50 percent fuel import mandate handed back to the company, Managing Director, Immanuel Mulunga, told the Windhoek Observer in July.
“All I can say is that we are making an application to get the 50 percent mandate back. Once we make that application, the ministry will decide whether they will give it back to us. It will happen in the next two to three weeks,” Mulunga said.
 
August
Letshego pays maiden dividend
Letshego Namibia paid its maiden dividend of 19.20 cents per share following its September 2017 listing on the Namibian Stock Exchange. The company listed on the local bourse on 28 September last year at a share price offer of N$3.80.
 
TransNamib eyes SA manganese exports via Luderitz
State-owned railway operator, TransNamib, said it was considering the merits of transporting manganese from South Africa’s Northern Cape mines by rail for export via the port of Luderitz.
CEO, Johny Smith, said the company was working on opening the railway line between Keetmanshoop and Luderitz before the end of this year in order to facilitate the planned exports.
 
NBL weighs export plant outside SA, Namibia
Beer maker, Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL), said it was considering setting up a plant outside Namibia and South Africa from where it can export its products to its growing African markets.
Namibia Breweries said it would likely partner with Heineken in the proposed venture without giving further details on where this plant or facility would be located.
 
Telecom achieves first profit in four years
Telecom Namibia posted a positive bottom line for the first time in four years, the company’s Annual Report for the year ended 30 September 2017 showed.
The company said despite revenues remaining flat, cost management initiatives and solid debt collection ensured that the company posted a comprehensive profit of N$9 million (2016:  N$41 million comprehensive loss) and the group, N$249 million ((2016:  N$26 million comprehensive loss.).
 
September
 
Namdia seeks new clients for rough diamonds
Namibia Desert Diamonds or Namdia announced it was in the process of adding at least 10 new clients to buy its rough diamonds, to bring the total number of clients to 15.
 
October
Capricorn sees potential growth in Botswana, Zambia
The Capricorn Group said in October that it sees potential growth in its Botswana and Zambian operations in the near future with a potential of increasing their contribution to the group’s profits.
 
Still no oil find in Namibia
Oil majors Tullow Oil and Chariot Oil and Gas failed in their bids to find oil offshore Namibia.
Chariot drilled in its Central Blocks licence offshore. Tullow Oil also announced that its Cormorant-1 exploration well in the PEL-37 licence, offshore Namibia had encountered non-commercial hydrocarbons.
 
Namibia drops one place on competitiveness ranking
Namibia dropped one place on the Global Competitiveness Report with a ranking of 100 out of 140 countries. The report said Namibia is the 6th most competitive economy in sub-Saharan Africa.
 
Manufacturing incentives flop
Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, admitted in October that manufacturing incentives, which government offered as part of its Vision 2030, had flopped. He said that 12 years before 2030, growth in manufacturing had averaged 11.7 percent a marginal increase from 11.1 percent at the introduction of the manufacturing incentive regime in 1995.
 
Controversial additional mining conditions scrapped 
Mines and Energy Minister, Tom Alweendo, scrapped the controversial additional conditions on exploration mining licences that had threatened Namibia’s position as one of Africa’s top mining investment destinations.

According to the scrapped conditions, the management structure of a mining entity were to consist of a minimum 20 percent representation of historically disadvantaged Namibians and at least five percent of the company should have been owned by Namibian persons or by a company wholly owned by Namibians.
 
November

Namibia drops in Ease of Doing Business
Namibia dropped to 107 in the 2018 World Bank Easy of Doing Business ranking from 106 last year.
 
Otavi plant to produce 100,000 tons of steel
A planned steel manufacturing plant at Otavi is expected to produce 100,000 tons of steel, officials revealed.
The Noric Otavi plant is owned by Namibian company, Otavi Rebar Manufacturing (Pty) and Swiss-based Noric Swiss GmbH Noric.
 
December
Rössing sold to Chinese firm
Rio Tinto announced that it had decided to offload its entire 68.62 percent stake in Rössing Uranium Limited for up to US$106.5 million (about N$1,5 billion) to China National Uranium Corporation (CNUC).
 
Geingob opens Peugeot-Opel Assembly plant
President Hage Geingob officially opened the Peugeot-Opel Assembly Plant in Walvis Bay commending the plant as a significant event for the development of the Erongo Region, most notably Walvis Bay.
Boards for PPP scheme and Namra announced
Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, announced members of the Public Private Partnership Committee. The committee will be chaired by new Ministry of Finance Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ally Angula. It also includes Nangula Uandja, James Myupe, Helen Amupolo, Annely Haiphene, Micheal Mukete and Steve Galloway.
Schlettwein also announced the board of the Namibia Revenue Agency (NAMRA) which is made up of Anna Nakale-Kawana as Chairperson, Stefan Hugo as Deputy Chairperson, Shirene Brampton, Melanie Tjijenda and Dennis Khama.  Schlettwein gave the board a January 2019 deadline to appoint a Commissioner.
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