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Kunene Region gets first distillation plant

Workers at the new Oil Distillation Facility in Opuwo

Workers at the new Oil Distillation Facility in Opuwo

An oil distillation facility for mopane and commiphora resin was officially opened this week at Opuwo. Millennium Challenge Account Namibia Chief Executive Officer Penny Akwenye, Millennium Challenge Corporation Resident Country Director Steven Dobrilovic and Kunene Governor, Hon Joshua Hoebeb officially opened the distillation facility. The small factory and an associated visitor centre were largely funded by Millennium Challenge Account Namibia through the United States Government. The Governor thanked the American people for helping to support the fight against poverty which he likened to a snake, saying to those in attendance, “don’t drop the stick before the snake is dead.”

He highlighted the economic significance of indigenous natural products for the Himba communities of the Kunene Region, calling them traditional plant experts. Akwenye stated that she was convinced the facilities would contribute to not only increased sales but increased awareness about these important products as well. Construction, furniture, fittings and marketing of the visitor centre were made possible through a grant to the value of N$727 675 under the Millennium Challange Account-Namibia’s Conservancy Development Support Grant. Most of the factory equipment came from came from its Primary Production Grant Fund worth N$353 000. N$4.5 million went into research, marketing and supply development through two Innovation Fund grants. The processing facility is locally owned by the Kunene Conservancy INP Trust, which comprises of five commiphora producing conservancies, namely Puros, Orupembe, Marienfluss, Sanitatas and Okondjombo. Commiphora is a traditional Himba perfume plant, also known as ‘Namibian myrrh’. While the conservancies benefit directly through the proceeds, 400 harvesters benefit indirectly through the sale of their collected raw material, and four new full time jobs have been created to date. Millennium Challenge Account-Namibia is implementing development activities in the country’s education, agriculture and tourism sectors financed by the United States Government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation to the combined value of approximately N$ 3 billion with the aim of reducing poverty through economic growth.

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