Oshikango economy goes from bad to worse

29 April 2016 | Business

The Oshikango business district in the border town of Helao Nafidi in the Ohangwena Region is falling apart.
Export, wholesale and retail businesses are closing at an alarming rate following a drastic decline in customers from Namibia’s northern neighbour.
At least 50% of Chinese-owned shops have closed. Many of those that remain have retrenched their Namibian workers.
“Many Chinese-owned shops have closed their doors while others have reduced their Namibian workforce. In most shops around here only Chinese nationals remain,” said a security guard at one of the Chinese-owned shops, who was only prepared to identify himself as Erastus.
Another Chinese shop employee, Nikodemus Andreas, said he has been working for his current employer for 10 years.
“Things were going well until last year. What is happening now is shocking. The crisis started when the number of our Angolan customers started falling because of the state of affairs in Angola,” he said.
He further said that the Chinese businesspeople who closed their shops have not left the country. “Some moved either to Oshakati or to Outapi where business prospects are still good,” he said.
Export businesses in the Oshikango EPZ (Economic Processing Zone) are also badly affected.
Speaking to Ewi lyaNooli on condition of anonymity, a junior manager of Sigma Trading said the Oshikango business community did everything possible to avert the worst, but there appeared to be no solution to the crisis. “Only a lot of promises from government,” he said.
He said it was easy for the Chinese shop owners to just pack and go but the businesses in the EPZ could not just move out like that.
“We will wait until June but if things do not improve we will, unfortunately, also have no other alternative but to close,” he said.
This state of affairs at Oshikango is ascribed to the devaluation of the Angolan kwanza, apparently precipitated by a sharp drop in crude oil prices.
The Angolan kwanza has depreciated further against the Namibia dollar, currently standing at N$1/KZ29 compared to N$1/KZ25 a month ago.
This depreciation of the Angolan currency and the alleged failure by many Angolan employers to pay workers’ salaries have eroded Angolans’ buying power.
Diamond Bhanji of the Ezzy Import and Export CC said the crisis did not only affect Oshikango. “This is not about Namibia and Angola either. This is a global economic crisis. All exporting countries are in trouble,” he said.
He detailed how the current crisis directly and indirectly affected an entire chain of businesses in Namibia.
“We here at Oshikango are not doing business. We are therefore no longer importing goods. This in turn affects TransNamib and NamPort, and the government also loses out on import taxes,” he said.
He further said that at the local level, the crisis affected all kinds of businesses.
“Foreign buyers who used to book into local hotels are no more. They also used to buy their groceries from local supermarkets, had their hair done at local salons and filled up their cars at local service stations. All those businesses are losing out now,” he said.
Bhanji said neither the Namibian nor the Angolan government was to blame for the crisis.
He said the Namibian government, through the relevant ministries and the Offshore Development Company (ODC), was doing its best to help the businesses at Oshiakango EPZ.
The ODC board has accepted a request from the EPZ businesses and has reduced their rent for warehouses, office space and houses.
The reduction came into effect on 1 March 2016.
“We trust that the revised rental rates will bring some relief in your operations and wish you success in your business endeavour,” said Phillip Namundjebo, the acting chief executive officer of the ODC in a letter seen by Ewi lyaNooli.
Car dealer Tarek Sbeiti of Byblos Motor Trading said the situation was going from bad to worse.
He said the currency-conversion agreement between the Bank of Namibia and Banco Nacional de Angola was a good idea that would have benefited Oshikango in the long run, but its implementation was catastrophic and contributed to the current crisis.
“Unscrupulous people came from nowhere with bags and suitcases full of Angolan kwanzas, exploited the system and disappeared,” he said.
He said such people were not exchanging Namibian dollars to buy here but rather to take the money to a thriving black market across the border.
“This appears to have been a carefully planned sabotage and needs to be investigated,” he said.


PLACIDO HILUKILWA

Similar News

 

From street vendor to welder

2 years ago - 25 October 2017 | Business

After spending about 10 years selling vegetables in the streets of Okahao in the Omusati Region, 38-year-old Immanuel Shekuza has reinvented himself as a welder.Ewi...

Grade 1 dropout now a skilled artisan

2 years ago - 29 March 2017 | Business

A 29-year-old man from Masivi village in the Kavango West Region who dropped out of school in grade one has transformed his life over the...

NamWater addresses water security

2 years ago - 29 March 2017 | Business

NamWater has started building a water reservoir at Oshakati to address water shortages in areas dependent on the Oshakati water purification plant.The water utility says...

Inspiring others with his mistakes

2 years ago - 29 March 2017 | Business

A young entrepreneur from Ongwediva decided to inspire upcoming business people by writing a book on how to overcome the challenges and succeed in business,...

Essential oils from the omumbiri and omutati

3 years ago - 27 July 2016 | Business

A community project based at Opuwo has shown that exporting raw materials is not the solution but finding ways to extract essential oils from tree...

Village football league making a difference

3 years ago - 27 May 2016 | Business

• ILENI NANDJATOOshana is the only region in the country having a legitimate third division.Established in 2006, Oshana Village-Based Soccer League is still progressing well,...

Tsumeb serious with development

3 years ago - 27 May 2016 | Business

The town of Tsumeb in the Oshikoto Region is busy addressing the issues of land and infrastructure development in order to create a conducive environment...

One on one with Ondangwa CEO

3 years ago - 29 April 2016 | Business

This month Kenya Kambowe (KK) interviewed the chief executive officer of Ondangwa, Ismael Namgongo (IN) on the Ondangwa Trade and Industrial Exhibition, which is starting...

Ondangwa airport construction nears completion

4 years ago - 19 March 2015 | Business

The construction of a new terminal building at Ondangwa Airport to the value of N$84 million will be completed by the end of March.The runway...

Eenhana property boom

4 years ago - 19 March 2015 | Business

In a country where housing remains a serious issue, the demand for property at Eenhana has reached unprecedented levels and investor confidence has returned to...

Latest News

Oukwanyama certifies headmen

1 week ago - 30 October 2019 | Local News

The Oukwanyama Traditional Authority (OTA) has certified 14 village heads who were operating without certificates of appointment.The traditional authority also appointed the former Namibian high...

Conservancy wants illegal campsite removed

1 week ago - 30 October 2019 | Local News

The Epupa Communal Conservancy has approached the High Court to stop the development of a campsite which it claims will prevent tourists from reaching Epupa...

Ongwediva Medipark brings services closer

1 week ago - 30 October 2019 | Local News

While the government is failing to construct adequate health facilities in the Kavango West Region to respond to the access to health needs of the...

Farmers schooled on cattle care

1 week ago - 30 October 2019 | Local News

The Northwest Division chief veterinarian, Dr Kennedy Shoombe, has urged northern livestock farmers to take good care of their cattle in order to make sure...

No retreat, no surrender

1 week ago - 30 October 2019 | Local News

The committee established by the Hambukushu tribe, which wants Fumu (Chief) Erwin Munika Mbambo to relinquish power, say they have not given up and want...

Horticulture the way to go

1 week ago - 30 October 2019 | Local News

A pensioner from Bagani village in the Kavango East Region has called on people living along the Okavango River to make use of the river...

Ondangwa falls in love with...

1 week ago - 30 October 2019 | Sports

A 37-year-old Ondangwa taxi driver, Johannes Kweyo, says there is nothing more fun and relaxing than the go-kart racing he has been enjoying for the...

Pensions spent on paying water...

1 month - 25 September 2019 | Local News

Ewi lyaNooli has learnt that pensioners living on their own at Ncamagoro village in the Kavango West Region use part of their monthly pensions to...

Ndonga Linena water woes continue

1 month - 25 September 2019 | Local News

Ndonga Linena constituency councillor Petrus Kavhura says villagers are still drinking contaminated water despite numerous attempts by his office to solve the problem.Earlier this year...

Load More