6 June 2019

Namibia: Economic Headwinds Bring Opportunities - Geingob

President Hage Geingob has urged Namibians to see the current tough economic times as opportunities for new and innovative ideas that will help develop the country.

The president said locals should embrace a spirit and attitude of doing more with less, and not see these challenges as obstacles.

Geingob, who was speaking at the grand opening of Wernhil Park's phase 4 on Tuesday night, said Namibians should invest in the local economy first before expecting foreign investors to support the growth of the economy.

"The Government is cognisant of the fact that recent economic headwinds have played a role in negatively affecting the cost of living for all Namibians, most notably our workers. Business in general has also sharply been affected, with many businesses fighting hard to survive," he noted.

The president added that another challenge that had unfavourable effects on the local economy is that of water sustainability, given the current severe drought facing the country.

The City of Windhoek thus has an immense challenge of controlling water usage, and this has a great impact on the business community.

"The development of Wernhil Park proves to us that even in challenging situations, where there is a will, there is a way. We are all affected by these trying economic times, but instead of focusing on problems, let us look for solutions. Let us make the best of the existing opportunities and forge ahead, galvanised by our patriotism and determination to continue advancing our country on a positive growth trajectory," urged the president.

Wernhil Park is a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group.

Sven Thieme, O&L's executive chairman, said it has always been the Group's vision through his late grandfather Werner List to be a catalyst of change. He said the aim of the Group was to create an environment that supports the building of a strong economy.

"My grandfather believed by building sustainable businesses, the private sector could support the government in building a powerful economy," he observed.

He said Wernhil, which the group opened in 1990, was Namibia's first fully fledged mall, and a clear sign of the confidence they had in the future of Namibia.

"Today, 29 years later, Wernhil Park, which is Namibia's oldest mall, receives one million customers per month. It has an investment of just over half-a-billion Namibia dollars, in which O&L reaffirms its belief in the future of the country, further investing in our people's future," he continued.

Broll Namibia's managing director, Marco Wenk, said during construction, between 400 and 500 job opportunities were created, while at least 600 to 700 permanent positions have been created at the various retail outlets.

"From an environmental point of view and in line with one of our vision metrics, which is to reduce our carbon footprint, I am happy to state that significant focus was placed on ensuring our power and water consumption is kept to a minimum," he added.

- charmaine@namibian.com.na; Twitter: Char_Ngatjiheue.

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