Buying what grows locally in Namibia
By Sharon Zaaruka
Junior Technical Advisor at Promotion of Business Advisory and Economic Transformation Services.
Namibia is a land full of resources, from mines, arable land, wildlife, gemstones, plants and trees with healing or nurturing properties.
This doesn’t begin to focus on the people of the Land of the Brave- truly resilient and resourceful people, capable of surviving in the harsh and arid climate that Namibia is famous for.
Despite a World Bank classification as “Higher-middle-income Country” in 2017, Namibia’s economy continues to struggle with low economic growth, unequal distribution of wealth and income. There is widespread poverty and unemployment. Which can seem puzzling when taking the natural and precious resources that Namibia evidently has in abundance, into consideration.
One major issue is that the resources are not sufficiently ‘enhanced’, ‘processed’ or ‘monetized’ in the country. This is slowly starting to change with Namibians realising that if they are masters over their resources and can develop them into finished products, they are able to make a living and empower themselves by creating their own employment.
In November 2016 the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, launched the Industry Growth Strategy (IGS) for several sectors, including gemstones, charcoal production, metal fabrication, Swakara wool and the beauty and health industry. The Ministry and German-Namibian Development Cooperation has been a major driver through its Promotion of Business Advisory and Economic Transformation Services (ProBATS) programme, of engaging, enhancing and giving ownership of the value-chain of these sectors to Namibians.
Having access to natural resources, like Marula, Devil’s Claw, gemstones, charcoal products or game-meat is a singular aspect of the value chain. However, to sell a value-added product requires yet another level of engagement in the value chain. Therefore, accompanying measures to create market access opportunities, amongst others, do additionally encompass market and export readiness support; certification and standardisation of products; and good manufacturing practices.
The programme works with rural communities and SMEs alike in helping them operating Micro SME’s. Giving them access to support ranging from market access, product development, distribution and trade.
The health and beauty industry players are a prime example of how taking ownership locally of the value-chain can have a huge positive impact. From a humble beginning of a handful of SME cosmetics and oil manufacturers, now more than 30 SMEs, large health and beauty products manufacturers and ingredients suppliers are active in Namibia. The cosmetics value chain engages more than 10,000 people directly, with most jobs being provided to women.
On top of that exports of ingredients and health and beauty end-products have steadily grown from N$60 million in 2015 to over N$100 million in 2019. This has a major positive impact on the day to day lives of normal Namibians and their standard of living. Proving that ownership of sectoral value chains is key to real development and growth from a socio-economic standpoint in Namibia.
Therefore, before buying imported products, look at products from Namibia. Globally Namibian products are sought after and are the basis for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, our diamonds sparkle across the world, our game-meat is a delicacy. The rest of the world wants and desires our products, we as Namibians should embrace this attitude and buy what is made and grown locally in Namibia. Doing so supports Namibian industries, supports our sectors and enhances the lives of each and every Namibian as well as helping natural and organically sourced products reach the international marketplace.
With Christmas coming up, why not buy local products and spread joy not just to the recipient, but also to the makers of the presents.