Trade minister Tjekero Tweya has said that potential investors who do not have the capacity to bring new technology to Namibia, will be replaced by other investors with that capacity.
The minister made this statement earlier this week at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between global company DP World and !Nara Namib to conduct a study on the potential for creating an industrial park.
He said Namibia needs to reduce its 60% import of electricity, using available natural resources such as the sun. But firstly, the country needs investments in the park which would bring in new technologies to have electricity generated locally for domestic and regional supply.
"That should not wait for 10 years, and if you do not have the capacity (speaking to DP World and !Nara Namib), let me know so that I can find others. However, you have assured me that you have the capacity. Thus, I am expecting you to understand the nature of the assignment," he continued.
Although the agreement is just meant for a study on whether an industrial park is viable and not an actual investment as yet, Tweya observed that this is a Namibian project, and he did not want to wait for five years to see anything tangible happening.
In terms of searching for further investments, the minister alluded to another investment conference slated for early next year to find potential investors for the industrial park.
"Seeing that it is a huge project, we will not let you alone to look for all the tenants who would make business in the form of factories and all those. We may consider having a focused investment conference early next year to invite potential and interested manufacturers in the (industrial) park so that the load is lessened on you, the private sector. If that is not necessary, that is fine. If not, let us start working on that, [sic]... " he said.
He stressed that if the park is to be completed in 20 years, Namibia cannot wait for that because there is a large number of unemployed youth who want jobs.
"The area is huge enough, and we can start with up to 20 activities simultaneously, and this can take a maximum of 10 years. That park must be functional, on its own, with its own water supply, its own energy and water to supply to the rest of the country, and energy to supply to the rest of the country and the region. This is in substitution of importation," added the minister.
Tweya's plan may come across as a tad ambitious, as DP World's head of media relations Roland Buerk reiterated that they are first conducting a study with their partner !Nara Namib on logistics.
In a brief interview with The Namibian, he said they are expecting to have the results of the study by the second quarter of 2020.
Buerk noted that the MoU is meant to result in the development of a free economic zone for logistics at Walvis Bay to support the growth of Namibia as a hub for southern Africa, basically creating an industrial park.
He added that they would like to offer Namibia technologies which can give the country smarter ways of trading, while tapping into trade for landlocked countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). These smarter trade technologies also look at digitising trade flow.
"We are mainly looking at the logistics park that has 50 hectares of land initially, and the potential for the future is quite great. We want to enable smarter trade, and digitise it. Namibia is part of SADC, and there is a huge trade market in the landlocked countries, while these economic zones can attract investors," Buerk stated.