Namibia urged to learn from Turkey to boost manufacturing

Home Business Namibia urged to learn from Turkey to boost manufacturing

General trade between Turkey and Namibia has increased by more than 100 percent within the last three years. According to trade statistics obtained from the Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA), last year Namibia exported goods to Turkey with a total value of US$28 million and imported goods worth US$104 million.

The goods exported include fish fat, charcoal, fur skin and those imported include sugar confectionaries, uncooked pasta, active yeast, textile, sodium carbonate, steel, iron, wire and machinery for various industrial sectors such as horticulture and bakery.

According to the Turkish Embassy in Windhoek, trade value between the two countries stand at US$22.187 million as of May 2015.

In November last year, the Namibian Government signed an agreement with the Turkish Government on trade and economic cooperation. This agreement aims to promote and facilitate trade and economic activities between the two countries.

One of the challenges faced by many SME manufacturers in Namibia is having access to intermediate inputs for production. As evident in the trade analysis, Namibia’s imports from Turkey include mostly intermediate inputs for some manufacturing sub-sectors such as the pasta industry, inputs for steel/wire manufacturing and industrial machinery. Therefore, it is beneficial for Namibia to leverage on this trade relationship in order to boost our manufacturing sector.

Imports of textiles were valued at US$946 673 last year. The textile and clothing industry was the first industrial sector that developed Turkey. As Namibia has prioritised this sector for industrialisation, Namibia should leverage on Turkey’s experience for support to grow this sector.

This is one of the sectors with great potential to create employment opportunities in the long run for Namibia. Such support could be in the form of sourcing of raw materials and/or for Namibian textile SMEs to form joint ventures with Turkish textile manufacturers especially to develop skills needed to establish successful textile businesses.

Turkey’s ambassador to Namibia, her Excellency Madam Deniz Cakarv, revealed that Turkey is a leading manufacturer of all construction materials. With the construction industry driving the Namibian economy presently, this is an opportunity for Namibia to take advantage of this trade relationship and see how this could contribute positively to Namibia’s construction sector. Again, this could be in terms of sourcing of materials, training through internship programmes and job attachments at Turkish manufacturers to gain practical skills. The issue of training is a significant one for Namibia as the industrial agenda will only be realistic and realised if education, technology and innovation are prioritised. Hence, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on education between the two countries should also expand on vocational training and internship programmes to expedite the skill’s deficit faced by the manufacturing industry.

Other opportunities are in the tourism and air services sector. MoUs in the two sectors have been signed by the two countries. These two sectors are interdependent and hence require close collaboration to facilitate an enabling environment for businesses to build relations in each other’s countries.

As the Turkish airline plans to launch direct flights from Instabul to Windhoek, this will respond to Namibia’s dreams of becoming a logistics hub. The tourism sector stands to benefit significantly from this move, presenting many opportunities for SMEs to grow their businesses. On the other hand, the Turkish tourism sector is one of the biggest contributors to its economy. It is the 6th most visited country in the world.

In terms of investment opportunities for Namibian SMEs in Turkey, the Namibia Investment Centre in collaboration with the Turkish Embassy in Windhoek would facilitate a business delegation comprising of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) to meet their Namibian counterparts in Windhoek. This business delegation was expected to be hosted at the Nampower Convention Centre on Thursday, October 8 at a Namibia-Turkey business forum. The main objective was for the Namibian SMEs to develop new business contacts and to stimulate commercial networks with Turkish companies.

The Turkish Embassy in Windhoek encourages Namibians willing to take advantage of the various partnerships between the two countries, especially in the areas of education, trade and tourism to approach the embassy for more information. On the other hand, if Namibia could prioritise opening up an embassy in Turkey, this will lead to smooth facilitation of trade and investments from Turkey to Namibia.

The relationship between Turkey and Namibia comes a very long way, tracing back to Namibia’s struggle for liberation. Over the years, this relationship has been strengthened through various agreements signed between the two countries as a way to enhance bilateral relations. Turkey is the world’s 18th largest economy and Europe’s seventh largest economy. Like Namibia which aims to be a gateway to SADC, Turkey is also strategically located, in that it connects Europe and Asia.

The country has managed to transform its economy in the last decade through privatisation reforms. Namibia is also accelerating its industrialisation and economic transformation aspirations guided by the ‘Growth at Home’ strategy. In light of this and in the context of industrialisation, there is a lot of experience and learning that Namibian businesses, particularly those within the SME sector, can emulate from Turkey in order to grow.

• This article was compiled by Maria Lisa Immanuel, Senior Trade and Investment Policy Analyst at the Namibia Trade Forum.