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More women excel at O&L

Sonja Bartsch, a top notch executive at O&L has climbed the corporate ladder to build her own professional career.

Sonja Bartsch, a top notch executive at O&L has climbed the corporate ladder to build her own professional career.

The call for more female faces in the private sector’s management cadre has prompted the Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies to introduce their female executives to a wider audience.

21 years ago in January 1992, Sonja Bartsch started as a modest assistant accountant at O&L Farming, a subsidiary in the extensive O&L stable. Today she is the Group Financial Manager: Operations and Managing Director of Kraatz Steel and Eros Air.
During her career she has been responsible for numerous divisions and has seen the growth and expansion of Midgard, Model Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay.
When thinking back on her career at the Group, Sonja says that one of her biggest highlights included the turn-around of the Retail operations.  “On a more personal note, I found the GAP Breakthrough Intensive a highlight – it teaches everyone that people act differently for different reasons – it changes your outlook on everything.”  Challenges during her career included numerous and she recalls: “One of the funniest challenges I remember was doing stock count at the Rietfontein farm where they had a large pigsty. The runts were familiar with the farm manager and workers only, so when we came to count them and they saw us, they started screaming like mad and running around like crazy – there was just no way that we could count them!  We eventually relied on the farm manager’s figures.”
Sonja, born and bred in Windhoek, holds a University of Pretoria B. Comm (Financial Management) and a B. Comm (Hons) (Financial Management) degree as well as a Master’s degree in Business from UNISA.
Asked about getting to the top she says it was not easy. “Yes, it is difficult, but when you think about it, it is actually tremendously rewarding.  Anyone working at a senior level, regardless of gender, needs to make sacrifices and it will depend on the individual, how much they are prepared to put in.  As a woman you sometimes have to combat prejudices (from men and women) on your ability, but any difficulties should not deter you.  Much more important than the difficulty is the reward and to me personally the reward lies in making a difference.”

About The Author

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.