Select Page

Support for Namibian contractors vital for capacity building – CIF

Support for Namibian contractors vital for capacity building – CIF

“We are very hopeful that this year we will see a drastic change in the way our Namibian-owned contractors are being supported. We feel that our continued call – for many, many years – to support our local contractors – large and small – is starting to resonate. I think that we are all aware of the importance of it “, said Bärbel Kirchner, chief executive officer of the Construction Industries Federation of Namibia (CIF).

Anecdotal evidence among CIF members representing the vast majority of the industry, suggests a mixture of thoughts and feelings in the construction sector about what lies ahead in 2023. Having experienced a downturn in this important sector since 2016, the stalwarts in the industry, defined by their optimism, hope that it will get better on a more continued basis and that eventually the industry will move up and out of the doldrums.

“There is a lot to gain if every politician, every government authority – at all levels of government – all senior executives and their teams, especially all procurement specialists -simply everyone who has Namibia’s interests at heart -will contribute to a focussed effort to get our local construction sector going again – this is ultimately in the interest of all of us,” she said.

The government is unlikely to be able to finance large scale infrastructure developments and capital projects unless it will have continued access to grants and loans. For example, for the 2022/2023 financial year, the development budget had seen a 10 % reduction to only N$4.9 billion whereas the year before it was N$5.5 billion.

The consequence of this very restricted capital investment is that the economy is not stimulated through capital projects and that competition for the little work that becomes available, is fierce. Local contractors have to compete against foreign-owned companies and the smaller players are displaced from the market by the more established contractors.

Te CIF reiterated its plea for domestic support irrespective of the size of development budgets and the amount of building and infrastructure projects, and irrespective of how they are financed. “Focusing on and supporting Namibian-owned businesses could facilitate a catalytic effect on the Namibian economy at large,” Kirchner said.

“If we focus on engaging local-owned businesses, we are creating much-needed jobs and ensure that money stays in the country. We must remember that every job leads to the creation of other jobs and that essentially it can have a snowball effect, where everyone gains.”

“Engaging foreign businesses, where we have ample local capacity is in total contradiction to our nation’s quest of achieving empowerment, equality, and prosperity. We believe that this awareness will bring us forward. This naturally does not mean that we need to close our borders. Instead, there must be the opportunity for everyone to be involved in our sector, where the foreign does not squeeze out local, and where the big does not squeeze out the small. It needs to be a balanced approach to maintain and continue building local capacity.”


About The Author

Guest Contributor

A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.