Windhoek — Tunacor Group Limited has plans to construct an N$160 million fishing vessel that it expects to christen the "Oshiveli" - an Oshiwambo word meaning 'first-born'.
The Oshiveli will be designed as a dedicated fishing vessel for fishing within Namibian waters, and marks a departure from the standard practice of refitting foreign vessels for the local fishing sector.
However, because Namibia does not have a local ship building facility and yard, Tunacor has contracted the construction of the hull to Armon Shipyards SA (Spain), an international shipyard famous for building reliable fishing vessels. However, Tunacor's Technical Department designed the vessel.
The Directorate of Maritime and Affairs will supervise the construction of the polyvalent steel stern trawler, which will be 53 metres long and 11.5 metres wide.
Lloyds Register, one of the most respected marine surveyors and classification societies in the world, will oversee quality control.
The company expects Namibian companies and workers to benefit through skills transfer in the short-term and ongoing maintenance work in the long-term, which Tunacor will carry out locally throughout the life of the vessel.
The Oshiveli is expected to have an operational life of 40 years and will have a gross tonnage of 1,200 tons and a cargo capacity of 500 tons of fish. It is anticipated that this will be the first of many fishing vessels built by Namibian companies in the years ahead.
An investment of N$160 million will be required to construct "Oshiveli" and construction is expected to take 18 months. The Oshiveli will be the first dedicated vessel capable of catching the three main commercial species in Namibian waters, namely hake, monk, and horse mackerel.
Due to this versatility, the vessel will be operational throughout the year and is therefore expected to be more profitable, both for Tunacor as a company and the Namibian economy at large.
The vessel will incorporate the latest engine and trawling technology, ensuring optimal fuel consumption and maximum operational capabilities while reducing emissions and waste.
At the launch of construction of the vessel, Tunacor Group Director, Peya Hitula, said the construction of the new vessel would benefit Namibia in many ways.
The benefits would include improved operational capabilities, increased fuel-efficiency, and the development of a more competitive and sustainable fleet. It is anticipated that this improved fleet will be both safer for the crew and friendlier to the environment.
"The benefits to the Namibian economy as a result of this project include the 200 direct jobs we expect to create by building this vessel. 60 of these positions will be on board and 140 will be land-based.
"There will also be hundreds of jobs indirectly created in the supply, maintenance and logistic chains," Hitula said.
Tunacor's workforce in 2006 stood at 450 employees, but this figure has increased to the current 1,400 and is expected to grow even further to 1,600 employees once the Oshiveli starts operating in local waters.
Also speaking at the launch, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau, highlighted that building fishing vessels in Namibia would translate into future economic opportunities and would assist in increasing the country's pace of industrialisation and economic diversification.
Local shipbuilding would provide greater opportunity to achieve the national goals as outlined in the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
"More skilled people within the marine sector will be able to manufacture and service our equipment, without the need for recourse to imported labour," Esau said.