The Namibia Manufacturers Association (NMA) will hold its first ever annual Manufacturer of the Year awards on June 20 this year, board chairperson Brian Black announced during a press briefing in Windhoek on Wednesday.
The awards will recognise and reward Namibian manufacturers who during the past years went the extra mile in putting the country on the map of international manufacturers. The awards aim to enhance awareness of Namibian products and to promote the need for more local manufacturing activities.
The manufacturing association has 142 members who represent approximately 30 000 employees in the Namibian manufacturing sector, ranging from textiles and food, to beverages and wood products, just to name a few.
Chief Executive Officer of NMA, Ronnie Varkevisser, said one of the major challenges facing Namibian manufacturers is local procurement and getting retailers to stock local products. However, he gave assurances that the NMA has engaged government and retailers to look into the matter.
Black emphasised the importance of buying Namibian products, saying that is the only way to ensure that profits remain in the country. He said one of the challenges for Namibian manufacturers is to produce cost effective products, since most raw materials are imported into the country. "They have to be able to compete with other products in the market," he said.
Transport costs and export levies also hamper local manufacturers and as a result, the export of Namibian salt to Brazil is at a standstill, according to Varkevisser. Also, production volumes that do not meet buyers' expectations are also a serious challenge that manufacturers face. The NMA represents local manufacturers by facilitating a sustainable, competitive and prosperous manufacturing industry and therefore found it necessary to honour and acknowledge its members on a national platform.
Its other role is to discuss and negotiate with government, other sectors of the business world and foreign investors, as well as to assist with foreign trade negotiations, according to Black. To participate in the Manufacturer of the Year awards members must have paid their membership fees and demonstrated leadership, business and product excellence, sustainability in manufacturing, as well as making a difference in the public perception of manufacturing in Namibia.
The awards have six categories: The Corporate Manufacturer of the Year, the Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) Manufacturer of the Year, the New Manufacturer of the Year, the Innovator and Designer of the Year, the Ambassador for Manufacturing and the Most Environmentally Friendly Manufacturer.
A panel of judges will in addition select the overall winner, which is the NMA Manufacturer of the Year. The closing date for all entries is May 17.