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Moving the red line is a necessary step

Moving the red line is a necessary step

By Karl Lichtenberg

I welcome the call by H.E, President Hage Geingob for serious deliberations on the Red Line that separates Namibia into north and south. His call echos a suggestion I voiced in my op-ed “A different approach to fixing Namibia’s structural inequalities is needed”, that is moving the Red Line to the Angola boarder.

The Red Line or Veterinary Cordon Fence was originally created in 1896 by the imperial German administration to contain a Rinderpest outbreak. Since the 1960s it served to prevent the spread of Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) from North to South. It is important however that I maintain that the Red Line should be moved to our border with Angola, not removed completely. I am sure His Excellency the President follows a similar chain of thought.

I was surprised to find, that the Presidents call for serious deliberations on the Red Line sparked panic on social media and doomsday prophecies for the Namibian meat market. Farmers and industrialists in the south painted a dark picture of collapsing meat prices, exclusion from international markets and plagues befalling the south. They did not seem to realise, that moving the Red Line to the Border with Angola is necessary to truly unite Namibians and overcome this long-lasting inheritance of South African imposed Apartheid, that the Red Line presents.

Fear, that competition with northern farmers would collapse meat prices very much proves this point. After all, excluding northern farmers from the lucrative southern marked was an Apartheid policy goal, to increase profits for southern elites, at the same time providing them with cheap labour from the north. It is necessary we realise and start working on overcoming this legacy. Only when the Red Line is moved to the Angola border, will we as Namibians truly be united.

The fear of southern elites, that competition with the northern farmers would cause prices to collapse, as far as I can assess, is uncalled for. Global demand for meat is ever increasing, especially with Chinese consumers becoming wealthier, the demand for meat seems insatiable and even competition by northern farmers should not cause the smallest dent in meat prices.

To tap global demand, of course we need secure access to global markets. This means, that a Red Line at our Angola border would have to be enforced scrupulously, that the northern farmers respect and support it and that Zambesi Region could not be included in the unified market at this point in time, as FMD is prevalent there.

It is certain, that if northern farmers want access to southern Namibia and as a result the lucrative global market, they need to commit and carry a well-enforced Red Line at the Angola border and the border to the Zambesi Region. If there is no will by the northern population to commit and implement such a policy, it would be unwise to move the Red Line.

It is unbearable, that the majority of Namibians, most of them living in the Oshana, Omusati, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions, are still separated from the rest of us by the Red Line. Only when we find a viable solution to move the Red Line to the Angola border, will most Namibians have access to the common market and we be able to fight entrenched poverty. This step would also open up the vast potential of the northern market and result in much needed economic growth.

Rather than fighting this policy, we need to work together to improve it and make sure that all Namibians stand to benefit. Northern farmers won’t win anything, if as a consequence of access to the southern Namibian market, they lose access to global markets. We all stand to benefit from moving the Red Line to the Angola border, so why not actively participate in developing a viable solution that works for all of us?

Caption: A citizens response to President Dr. Hage Geingob’s statement that serious deliberations must take place to remove the Red Line and the ensuing panic on social media.

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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.