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Printing market to be impacted as new kid enters the block

Freedom fighter for press freedom. Managing Director of WordPress, Wolfram Jaus is no stranger to newspaper production. He steered Democratic Media Holdings for 17 years. Funding from the Development Bank has enabled him to open his own offset printing factory in partnership with the Namibian newspaper.

Printing prices for web printing are likely to be impacted, due to the fact that, a second newspaper printer, WordPress Namibia, cut its teeth last week printing Informante and this week Sunday, started printing the Namibian newspaper. The establishment of the printing press is expected to relieve some of the printing pressure from News Print, which has enjoyed a long period of unchallenged competition in the trade.

Located in Windhoek, WordPress prints the daily Namibian newspaper, who is also a partner in the venture. Informante, the weekly newspaper, inked the cylinders first with last week’s edition. The project, a joint venture between Namibia Media Trust (NMT), owner of The Namibian, and former managing director of Democratic Media Holdings, Wolfram Jauss, required a total investment of N$69 million to date, including printworks, property and plant. It is financed by the Development Bank. According to WordPress, their new factory has created 42 permanent jobs. The plant is expected to strengthen sustainability of several existing newspapers, as well as provide opportunities for new entrants into the market. Additional capacity will create local opportunities to print inserts and supplements, many of which are currently printed in South Africa. However, WordPress took the initiative and started printing Shoprite inserts this week. The funding from the Development Bank was used for the acquisition of machinery for the printing operation, which include, the press itself, a folding machine, computer-to-plate imaging equipment, an insert machine, and a shrink wrapping and strapping machine. In order to move the paper rolls and distribute newspapers, WordPress will acquire forklifts and trucks. In addition to the acquisition of the printing plant, WordPress is also using DBN finance to acquire and re-purpose buildings to house the printing plant. Speaking about the project, DBN CEO Martin Inkumbi noted that Namibia had the highest degree of press freedom on the continent, but that press freedom also required diversity of capacity to produce newspapers. Inkumbi said that if a single manufacturer experiences difficulty, this affects the flow of goods to the entire market. Establishment of a second press, Inkumbi said, will contribute to securing press freedom for the future. He also said that the Bank views WordPress as a manufacturing operation, which falls within the strategic ambit of DBN as one of the key sectors identified by NDP 4. He went on to commend the structure of the company as ideal in terms of the Bank’s mandate, noting that half the shares are owned by the Namibia Media Trust (NMT). The trust owns the Free Press of Namibia, which in turn owns and produces the Namibian newspaper. The Namibia Media Trust has appointed Tangeni Amupadhi, Editor of The Namibian, and Ms. Ulla von Holtz, as non-executive directors of WordPress, and they will serve along with co-owner and Managing Director, Wolfram Jauss on the board of directors.

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