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It was a groot dream but for the moment, Tses is still left behind

The Groot Group which styles itself as a proper holding company with numerous subsidiaries, is dreaming big dreams. But sadly, as of last weekend, it transpired that these are all just dreams and hot air.

It is now almost four years ago that the so-called Groot Group announced they are working on preparations to bring a world-class glass factory to the one-horse town Tses, not far south of the regional border between Hardap and Karas. That first release sounded so convincing, it was even forwarded by a local stock broker through their news service to give prospective investors a glimpse of the intended mega-investment in the Karas Region.
Now, it is common knowledge that the government is very anxious to broaden the commercial and industrial base of the two southern regions to include more local participation. These two regions run on the revenue of three mines and a modest agricultural contribution with a smattering of tourism. For the rest, I estimate around 90% of its residents are excluded from any meaningful local projects so it is understandable that any new project will attract much attention.
But it seems the Tses Glass promotors have bitten off more than they can chew. In an interview with the Economist last year, grand plans were revealed, and a fairly well-defined timeline was offered. Investment partners were named, and a bouquet of European companies were all claimed to be in on the deal. There was even a groundbreaking ceremony with a most revealing picture which we published on 20 June 2014.
Over the previous weekend, a trip to Keetmanshoop provided the opportunity to visit Tses, for what is popularly known as a fact finding mission. Before Independence, Tses was a railway stop and nothing more. One can spot it from the B1 main road, but until recently, it had basically only the same buildings it had at Independence. It can not be described as a vibrant community.
Lately over the past few years, Tses has sprawled a newer residential area showing some town planning, as well as a small settlement west of the main road. This was not there twenty years ago.
One’s first impression of Tses is of a complex set of new trenches running criss cross both left and right of the road leading into the town. But these are not for the intended Tses Glass factory. These works are identified by the mandatory blue and white engineering and construction billboards, giving a very brief description of the project, the client, the professionals involved and the contractor. All these projects are for water reticulation and sanitation. Driving around in Tses, it was noticeable that the bottlestore is abandoned and delapidated. This must be the only town where this is the case. But it was also noticeable that some newish buildings have appeared, and a shiny new secondary water reservoir has been erected next to the river, I suppose to supply the main reservoir that sits on a small hill just behind the residential area. Another anomaly was to find water in the river in the section under the railway bridge. It is almost like a small green oasis in the otherwise barren and dry surroundings.
The site for a glass factory could not be found. As a matter of fact, no site for any factory could be found and enquiries as to the location of the site where the groundbreaking ceremony took place, drew a blank. Tses residents know only of the glass factory because they read it in the newspapers.
If the claims around the project were more rational, perhaps I would have shrugged this one off as just another scheme. But to claim contracts worth billions and to throw an employment figure of 40,000 around, is stretching the imagination.
I think what captures my attention most, is the claim last year that the government will take up shareholding in Tses Glass to the tune of N$800 million. This immediately brought back flashes of a couple a million, or even a hundred million going missing at parastatals by self-styled investment managers, a series of crimes which to this day has not been investigated, or the funds recovered.
Was this N$800 million claim the missing link I was looking for? It is entirely speculative on my side, but if the promotor claims these outrageous figures, participation and contribution, is Tses Glass not a grandiose scheme to pave yet another way between government coffers and a very small number of insider beneficiaries. There is already much visible government activity with the water projects. This presence is supported by the number of GRN vehicles in Tses. It must be the settlement with the highest GRN vehicle to number of residents ratio, in the entire country. But I suppose, these are needed to make sure the projects go as planned.

About The Author

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.