Industrialisation, trade and SME development minister Tjekero Tweya last Thursday urged local charcoal producers to set up charcoal manufacturing factories and directly export the finished product overseas.
Tweya made these remarks at a discussion held with board members of the Namibia Charcoal Association (NCA) at Otjiwarongo.
According to the minister, charcoal production in the country holds the potential to create local jobs and stimulate the economy by bringing in foreign currency once the production, processing and value addition activities of charcoal are localised and done correctly.
He said so far, about 80% of the local producers send their semi-processed or raw charcoal in trucks to South Africa, where they are packaged into small bags before exported overseas where they fetch triple the amount of money they are sold to South Africans by Namibians.
"This will come to an end very soon as we will start with our own production, processing and packaging of the charcoal before we export it overseas ourselves," said Tweya, praising the local farmers who have managed to do this.
The minister, without specifying a date, said his office will soon intervene and bring in three renowned South African charcoal manufacturing companies that would invest in the infrastructure development by setting up charcoal manufacturing and processing plants in the Otjozondjupa, Omaheke and Erongo regions.
He then called on local producers to improve on the labour relations and desist from exploiting their charcoal workers.
Speaking on behalf of the NCA board, Danie van Vuuren said the discussion with Tweya was fruitful and inspirational for the industry, vowing to share the content thereof with other members of the association who were not present.