Debmarine Namibia last week donated N$250, 000 to the University of Namibia (UNAM) towards the setting up of a School of Marine Engineering and Maritime Studies
and the Centre for Mining and Metallurgical Research and Training, which is planned for the Erongo Region.
Debmarine Namibia CEO, Otto Shikongo, said during the handover ceremony held in Windhoek that as a responsible corporate citizen, the company’s initiatives focus on community development programs, capacity skills development, donations, emergency relief and infrastructure development.
“Namibia currently has no institution that provides dedicated education and training in maritime fields at bachelor or postgraduate degree level. Aspiring Namibian youth that are interested in pursuing maritime careers often go to other countries to obtain their qualifications. As one of the main players in this industry, we are faced with challenges of a shortage of qualified and competent skills in this area. We rely heavily on developing our own talent resource pool, through our trainee and long-term trainee programs in which we invest significantly.”
He said Debmarine currently own, manage and maintain a fleet of six diamond mining vessels. Each of the vessels is manned by captains, working in two shifts of 28 days on - 28 days off.
“However, despite the challenges, we are proud to have developed seven home-grown Namibian captains that have passed through our training programme. It takes approximately ten years to develop one captain,” he said.
Shikongo applauded UNAM supported by the Sam Nujoma Foundation for the noble initiative to establish this much needed institution, which he believes will grow the Namibian maritime talent pool.
“This will allow Namibia to compete on a global scale with other countries. We challenge UNAM to remain dedicated and focused in delivering on this dream, by developing curriculum and training facilities of international standards and accreditation, which we can be proud of and which the private sector can rely on.”
UNAM’s Pro Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, Dr Frednard Gideon, thanked Debmarine for the commitment to support the university.
He also thanked Debmarine for donating samples of Benthic Macrofauna to the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.
Macrofauna, also called macrobenthos, are invertebrates that live on or in sediment, or attached to hard substrates.
He said the Centre for Mining and Metallurgical Research and Training, and the School of Marine Engineering and Maritime Studies, are important because mining contributes close to 25 percent to the nation’s income earnings and contributes about 11,9 percent to the nation’s GDP, while the fisheries sector contributes more than 15 percent.
Dr Gideon said that NDP5 has recognised the importance of mining and maritime as major role players in the socio-economic development and growth of Namibia.
“In addition, our harbours (Walvis Bay and Luderitz) are projected to play a very great role in the near future as logistics hubs serving the SADC region especially the landlocked countries,” he said.
The Pro Vice Chancellor said this will only succeed or be possible if this is accompanied by massive human resource capacity building through skills development and upgrading.
“The success of these two initiatives will depend on forging very strong and dependable partnerships with key stakeholders,” he said.
Dr Gideon said the funding support provided by Debmarine has enabled UNAM to undertake needs analysis/feasibility studies for both projects in order to determine priority academic and research areas which would address the real and not perceived human resource development needs of the country.
“The reports of the needs analysis for both projects will be presented during stakeholder workshops which are scheduled to take place in May this year. This would allow stakeholders to participate with confidence in shaping the future of these two very important national institutions.”
On the donation of the Benthic Macrofauna, Dr Gideon said the Department of Biological Sciences at UNAM is engaged in discussions with Debmarine Namibia to establish areas of agreement and collaboration in capacity building through research for both academic staff and students.
“I am pleased that Debmarine has taken the first big step in these on-going discussions by donating samples of benthic macrofauna.”