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This Week In The Khuta – Same old, same old in the south

There is one thing that hits you in the face as you walk through the southern town of Keetmanshoop. The fact that little or no development has taken place in the town over the past 10 years. Most streets are still not tarred, the central business district still hosts the same shops and no significant businesses has opened their doors in the town. What’s funny is that most houses even have the same colour they had five years ago. My point is, most if not all things, are still the same.
This is the same scenario in many of the southern towns.
So it doesn’t come as a surprise when people in the Karas and Hardap regions complain that no significant development is taking place there. But I have to ask, is it just convenient to shift blame on the government or has the people in these regions done something themselves to uplift their livelihoods? There is no point in complaining and pointing fingers at government if we do not make an effort to enrich ourselves.
Growing up, I always heard that Keetmans is the capital of the South and the second capital of the country. But compared to Oshakati and Ongwediva for example, nothing was and is happening there and basically, it has become a “drive-through’ town linking industries with South Africa. In comparison, Oshakati has grown tremendously over the past few years and business is thriving at the northern town. This is mostly due to the entrepreneurial spirit of people such as Ben Hauwanga of BH Motor Spares and David Sheehama of Kambwa Trading. Is there a similar drive to venture into business, create employment and develop the southern regions? I don’t know. From where I stand, it doesn’t seem like it.
The Karas region is predominantly a small stock farming area and game and irrigation farming along the Naute Dam and the Orange River has also increased significantly.
The fishing industry in Lüderitz is also a significant contributor to the region’s economy. With economic activities such as diamond and zinc mining, the Kudu Gas field near Lüderitz and tourists attractions such as the Ai-Ais Hot Water Springs, Quivertree forest and the Fish River the region should be thriving. Yet, with so much potential, the region is marred by poverty. One in three families live below the poverty line in the Karas region, while 18% of the region’s 15 570 households are poor, according to the Karas Poverty Profile which was launched in 2008.
The onus is on us to make use of opportunities and create our own jobs and invest in the region. Of course government can do much more to create an enabling environment where people can start their own businesses and where foreign investors can fund projects which will uplift the southern part of Namibia.
Projects like the multi-billion dollar Neckartal Dam project can bring about change in the region. The project is envisaged to create 12 000 permanent jobs, food security and development – that is if it materialises…
It is about time that people in the south stop complaining and do something for themselves. There is no point in pushing blame if you are not doing anything to change your situation.

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