Against the background of the closing of the Elizabeth Bay Mine in November 2018, the impact on the town and the loss of employment is strongly felt.
Thus, manganese, whose handling at the town has divided residents, seems to offer a viable alternative.
According to Namport, who are the project initiator, their strategic thrust is to position the port of Lüderitz as a logistics hub of Sadc as envisioned in the NDP5. This is due to the fact that the port of Lüderitz is strategically located to serve as an important gateway for mining commodities and fruits, originating in the Northern Cape Province in South Africa, with which //Kharas Region has a standing twinning agreement.
In addition, the completion of the rail link between Aus and Lüderitz has propelled the port and the Trans Oranje Corridor as alternatives for the exportation of cargo originating from this province.
After several meetings and much debate at Lüderitz, there seems to be a consensus that the health risk will be within acceptable limits. Environmental requirements have been laid out clearly and companies involved have committed to adhere to these committed rules.
It is worth mentioning that despite negative publicity and public outcry aimed at the importers of manganese, Namport has successfully handled manganese ore in bulk for over a decade at the port of Walvis Bay without any incident.t
According to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process, the community always has the right to notify the environmental commissioner to voice their concerns. According to Namport two to three ships per month can be accommodated, which translates to 80 000 tons monthly.
The total annual capital generated is estimated to be up to N$648 million of foreign currency coming to Namibia.
It is further stated that employment opportunities will be created by TradePort Namibia (120 direct employment opportunities), TransNamib (190 direct employment opportunities), Namport (25 direct employment opportunities), other supporting industries such as clearing agents, security services, truck and rail, government taxes, Road Fund Administration, retail, hospitality and engineering will create +-50 employment opportunities.
On the other hand, Pektranam Logistic will create 170 direct employment opportunities, Namport (NPA) will create 25 direct employment opportunities and other supporting industries will create +-30 employment opportunities.
In a nutshell, according to Namport, the manganese project at the initial stage will create 610 direct and indirect employment opportunities, which bring back economic benefits to the town of Lüderitz and the region.
In conclusion, given the economic situation of our country and Lüderitz in particular which depends mainly of tourism, fishing and mining activities, we need to look at alternative projects that can complement the existing sectors in town.
The spinoffs can also be to fast-track the development of the new port at Angra Point. However, all this should be done within the environmental and safety conditions set by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to ensure that the environment is conducive for investors, the community of Lüderitz and the region at large.
* Reverend Jan. A. Scholtz is a holder of a Diploma in Youth Work and Development from the University of Zambia (UNZA) and BA (HED) from UNISA. He writes in his private capacity.