Windhoek — With the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Tjekero Tweya, as the guest of honour at the construction launch, the 2,660 square metre state-of-the-art manufacturing plant at Brakwater - expected to be completed before the end of this year - will close the gap on an estimated 50 percent of plastic currently imported from abroad.
Namibia Plastics co-founder and CEO, Johan Struwig, entertained the audience with the history of Namibia Plastics during his address at the official ground-breaking ceremony of the construction of the plant.
Struwig said: "Initially, I started from a home-based office, making use of a spare room, one cellphone, and a laptop. We struggled for a few months with no orders. The average response in approaching potential clients was always 'let us know when you have Namibian clients on board, then we will buy.' I told them that our suppliers have big customers in South Africa - hoping that this will rescue us and bring in Namibian clientele, but unfortunately it didn't."
Struwig went on to sing praises to Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) which was the first Namibian company to give them a break. "Based on a promise to manufacture locally when we reach adequate volumes, our first order from NBL, valued at N$77,247.23 finally came through in October 2011. Using NBL as a reference and armed with our new dream, Namibia Plastics continued to grow from strength to strength and today we are proud to have clients like Ohorongo Cement, Bokomo, Namib Poultry Industries, Namib Mills, Namib Foam, Coca-Cola, Etosha Fisheries, Seawork Fish Processors and of course NBL on board this journey that has enabled us to maintain an average growth percentage in excess of 100 percent over the past six years."
Struwig also acknowledged the fruitful relationship with the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN), as well as with investor and partner Spitz Capital, which has contributed significantly to the growth of Namibia Plastics.
Tweya in his keynote address stressed partnerships between government, communities and civil society; partnerships between different branches of government, with the private sector, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations and the international community, as well as partnerships between urban and rural societies and, ultimately between all members of the Namibian society as key to the achievement of dynamic, efficient and sustainable development. He also emphasised the current global economic pressure, and water sustainability following the severe drought, as detrimental effects on the local economy.
Tweya said: "While we face all these developmental challenges, it is important to adopt an attitude of determination and a mindset that nothing is impossible to overcome when we stand together as one big nation. We need to adopt a culture of camaraderie that enables levels of affinity and cooperation amongst public-private partnerships to take the Namibian House to heights unimaginable."
"We need to grow to become partners - supportive of each other's endeavours to grow and develop Namibia, with honesty and integrity. We need to take hands not only during difficult times but more so when celebrating our successes. Allow me therefore to commend Namibia Plastics - under the leadership of Johan Struwig together with his dynamic team - for not only dreaming but ultimately bringing that dream to fruition by being committed to and contributing to the growth and development of the Namibian House."
He added: "The significant investment of N$95 million into this plant that will create an additional 200 direct and indirect job opportunities during and after construction, is testimony of your support and commitment to achieve the ideals and objectives of Vision 2030 and the president's Harambee Prosperity Plan. I am excited and confident that the development of Namibia Plastics' factory plant will contribute immensely to the City of Windhoek and the Namibian economy at large."
Executive chairman of the O&L Group and president of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Sven Thieme, served as endorser of the ground-breaking ceremony.
Thieme said: "One would think that it is common sense that we add as much value locally as possible, and realise that an investment at home is an investment in creating jobs locally. We should never limit ourselves to what we have. Surely manufacturing locally and procuring from home supports growth at home. Yet, we still find that some of us are happy to save a dollar by procuring an imported product that may be a little cheaper - whether it is because the country of origin has economies of scale, provides subsidies, or has some competitive advantage, this doesn't matter. The bottom line is that we need to understand the multiplier effect of the opportunity cost of not supporting local - on future jobs, on our ability to develop skills, on our ability to become economically independent, on poverty eradication, and how our children will pay this price." "Therefore, I would like to sincerely appeal to the rest of 'Business Namibia', the government and the public at large, to support Namibia Plastics and other local companies in their endeavours to build our nation and make a positive impact on the lives of Namibians. Can you imagine if everyone has an understanding that every time I buy a local product, I contribute to the eradication of poverty and address income inequality? Can you imagine the power and pride of holding in your hand a product that states 'Made in Namibia'?"
Former MP and chairman of Namibia Plastics, Theo-Ben Gurirab, during his welcoming address said: "The Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) is based on five pillars. Namibia Plastics directly contributes to two pillars, namely effective economic advancement; and social progression. The expected outcomes of supporting these pillars are a reduction of poverty levels, and promoting a spirit of entrepreneurship and enterprise development. The existence of Namibia Plastics and the significant growth into a successful proudly Namibian entity, speaks directly to government's growth-at-home agenda. Today we also celebrate the support by Namibian companies, not only to Namibia Plastics, but to other local suppliers as well. It is that camaraderie among Namibian entities and 'Business Namibia' at large that will take Namibian businesses, and the local economy to the next level."
Also at the ground-breaking ceremony, Struwig announced the opening of a staff shareholders trust.
Struwig said: "The real heroes of Namibia Plastics are our people. Guided by our company values, we recognize that without talented and committed people who own, support and drive the strategy of the company as enshrined in our 5th value, 'Value People' - success will not be possible. For this reason, a staff shareholders trust was created, and I am honored to pledge 10 percent of my shareholding in Namibia Plastics, to the Staff Shareholders Trust. Whether you are working as a packer, cleaner, operator, manager or director at Namibia Plastics, everybody matters and is included in this journey!"