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In honour of the life of John Olszewski

In honour of the life of John Olszewski

“A good day to you and a better tomorrow.” This was the standard greeting of an intellectual giant, John Olszewski, who went to his final resting place this week.

When a middle-aged man sat in my office around the turn of the century, trying hard to convince me of the value of a weekly analytical weather column, little did I realise what immense impact he will have in my life over the next 15 years.

Working closely with him for 12 years, the discipline of meteorology was unlocked in my mind, giving me a set of tools to understand something of which I knew zilch before meeting John.

But the enormous depth of his knowledge was only one aspect of a man who has left an indelible impression on the way weather and its significance, is viewed. John understood right from the start that there must be a tangible link between Namibia’s climate and its economy for me to take any interest in his observations and opinions. In this he excelled, grasping instinctively the overarching importance of local weather for the country’s future economic development.

In Namibia, the economy can not be separated from the climate. An arid country has so many limitations that no economic policy will work unless it deals with the impact of weather in every project, not only those where an abundance of water is assumed. This reality principle John incorporated into his analytical work.

So, for about 15 years, he religiously, 50 times a year, produced a weather column that grew into a benchmark for understanding the weather, and not trying to be clever by predicting the weather. To this day, when reading some of his work in our archives, one can not help but be impressed by the value of his output. Reviewing his articles, I always come to the same conclusion: if these principles are not accommodated at management and policy level, whatever project we tackle is doomed.

Without any formal university training, he developed into one of the most astute minds working in southern African meteorology. Still, John was in essence a humble man, seldom taking merit for his voluminous contribution, unaffected by the almost father-like affection he enjoyed from dozens of former colleagues at the Namibia Meteorological Service. He was more inclined to quote his mentor, Dr Taljaard, than receive any recognition for his own very significant input.

At his memorial service earlier this week, I could not help but notice what tremendous role he played, often unwittingly, in the lives of so many other people. Universal through all the eulogies were John’s passion, his compassion, his good-natured disposition, and of course, his immense intellect.

Many mentioned how he would take them to school in his blue Volla and collect them on time later, to make sure they get home safely. This I can attest to. His Volla was often parked in front of our offices, sometimes with as many as six children inside, patiently waiting for Uncle John to quickly check out this or that about the weather, before carrying on with his errands of delivering children to their homes.

His charisma continued his entire life. Even for people who knew him only for a few years in his later life, his perseverance and his astute mind never failed to impress them, on top of all his other first-class qualities.

It is difficult to do justice to John’s legacy in a short contribution like this. The man was highly complex, yet ultimately very simple. His motto was: “do unto others as thy would be done by” and he lived this to the fullest.

“John, it was an honour working with you for so many years. Your incisive mind turned a heavy tumbler in mine. You have widened my horizon exponentially, and you have taught me the importance of paying attention to detail. I still hear you: “If you grasp the detail, the bigger picture emerges by itself.”


 

About The Author

Daniel Steinmann

Brief CV of Daniel Steinmann. Born 24 February 1961, Johannesburg. Educated at the University of Pretoria: BA, BA(hons), BD. Postgraduate degrees are in Philosophy and Divinity. Editor of the Namibia Economist since 1991. Daniel Steinmann has steered the Economist as editor for the past 29 years. The Economist started as a monthly free-sheet, then moved to a weekly paper edition (1996 to 2016), and on 01 December 2016 to a daily digital newspaper at www.economist.com.na. It is the first Namibian newspaper to go fully digital. Daniel Steinmann is an authority on macro-economics having established a sound record of budget analysis, strategic planning and assessing the impact of policy formulation. For eight years, he hosted a weekly talk-show on NBC Radio, explaining complex economic concepts to a lay audience in a relaxed, conversational manner. He was a founding member of the Editors' Forum of Namibia. Over the years, he has mentored hundreds of journalism students as interns and as young professional jourlists. He regularly helps economics students, both graduate and post-graduate, to prepare for examinations and moderator reviews. He is the Namibian respondent for the World Economic Survey conducted every quarter for the Ifo Center for Business Cycle Analysis and Surveys at the University of Munich in Germany. He is frequently consulted by NGOs and international analysts on local economic trends and developments. Send comments to daniel@economist.com.na

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

Promotion

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.