The coastal economy

By Ogone Tlhage ogone@economist.com.na

By Ogone Tlhage
[email protected]

I have in the past three weeks travelled to Swakopmund and must say that I am astounded by what I got to see. On the first occasion the shuttle drove in at just after eight and quite oddly, it was a warm evening. Not like anything I have experienced the coastal paradise to be.
Upon entering, we immediately turned right and made way for what I thought would be Henties Bay. We drove approximately 5 kilometres north and turned in finally only to be greeted by a row of fancy houses and a well to do shopping centre. It must probably be a good five years since I last set foot in Swakopmund, since, I am not one to rush over there when its December anyway.
In any case, the shuttle had to make rounds across town dropping of passengers before finally making way to a hotel where a media delegation would be sleeping over and finally, head south to Walvis Bay.
When morning broke, two other colleagues and I made way to the Areva Desalination Plant where we would spend our morning. Since it was now day, I had time to take in what was happening. Development after development. Shopping centres, houses, roads that were being rehabilitated, the list goes on and on and on.
I do not see an end in sight to what is happening and it can only be good for the entire coastal economy. And more encouraging, with the exclusion of the Husab Mine, what has lead this spur in growth? Take away the mining sector just for a minute, the marine economy and think desalination and what it can mean for other parts of the country, particularly Usakos, Karibib, Okahandja, Windhoek and even Otjiwarongo and Okakarara.
The impact is meaningful right? Add to that, Aveng Africa, operators of the contentious plant believe they can water Namibia affordably does it for a moment make you sad that despite the overwhelming potential, the plant or desalination plants Government through Namwater are not being utilised.
This has lead me to believe the coastal economy has announced itself and not just as a mining and or marine based economy, but one that has the potential for its influence to extend far beyond the reach of the Namib desert. And if it can happen in cold misty Swakopmund, imagine the possibilities that abound across other parts of the country. If we turn our attention to the south, we can one day utilise the abundance of sunlight to power a huge part of Namibia.
Luderitz too can play its role and allow for the establishment of wind farms. Flip as a node to the Port in the south, it may also give impetus to movement of goods and services out of Luderitz in droves we are yet to see and given its location to parts of northern South Africa and Botswana, the potential increases significantly.
But as has been mentioned by Aveng, the lack of a PPP framework is holding back a number of projects that can spur growth in the country and that is sad to note that Government has only recently begun putting work towards a framework.
Think of areas of the country that show great potential which may not need government intervention and the picture becomes clear. Well in my mind at least. I leave it there!

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