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Biologist to zoom in on genetic engineering and explore its potential impact on local agriculture

Biologist to zoom in on genetic engineering and explore its potential impact on local agriculture

The Namibia Scientific Society will host Dr. Andre de Kathen, a biologist and science teacher, on 18 October at 1930, where he will be give a public talk titled ‘Genetic Engineering: Bane or Blessing?’

Dr de Kathen will explain the historical context and the scientific and technical background of genetic engineering and he will provide data on its worldwide adoption, social, economic and health impacts and will than discuss scenarios, which may impact agriculture in the country.

According to a short report by the Allgemeine Zeitung in early July 2018, the Namibian Cabinet decided to grant permits for several genetically modified organisms or derivative products. But the questions now asked are, what is the scientific basis of genetic engineering techniques, and are there potential implications even for Namibia’s agricultural sector?

History has it that for more than 20 years, genetically engineered crops are commercialised and for almost a decade, the debate on GMOs, (genetically modified organisms) appeared to be settled, but new technical developments ignited a new debate on what are GMOs and how they are to be regulated.

Dr de Kathen studied biology at the University of Bonn, obtained his PhD from the University of Hannover for genetic engineering of pea and continued his research as a PostDoc in Hannover. He has worked on the genetic improvement of peas, beans and chickpeas in cooperation with research institutions in Europe, Colombia, Syria, Egypt and India.

In 2000, he left research and worked as a consultant on impact assessment, project management and training for different institution in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa and from 2002 to 2004 he worked as an advisor to the Namibian Government on the development and implementation of  bio-safety legislation.

About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and is working on her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). She believes education is the greatest equalizer. She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.

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.