WINDHOEK - Following media reports over the escalation of Namibian timber exports to China in raw form, Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Tjekero Tweya, has expressed concern that the status quo should be reversed.
The Namibian reported last Friday that exports of Namibian timber to China increased from 22 truckloads in 2015 to 208 truckloads in two months of this year. It was further reported that in total 3 200 tonnes of Namibian timber were exported to China in 2018. Before last Friday media reports, Tweya who addressed his staff and heads of State-Owned Enterprises under his ministry last Thursday, said a different approach should be taken regarding timber harvesting in the Zambezi,
Okavango East, Okavango West, Ohangwena Regions. “I want to see a situation where we produce furniture for our domestic market – our schools, clinics. We have a tendency to export in raw forms and then we import at exorbitant prices in manifold charges. We have a duty to protect this nation now and forever. We should only allow these products to be exported once value has been created. Value creation in Namibia should go in tandem with capacity building of our people through skills and knowledge transfers,” Tweya reacted.
Environment and Tourism Minister, Pohamba Shifeta, last week seethed agriculture ministry officials for dishing out permits to harvest timber in northeast Namibia without obtaining environmental clearance certificates. Shifeta called on those looting endangered trees without following proper procedures to be charged for misconduct. His ranting follow media reports that government has received 231 applications from individuals who want to cut down 195 550 trees in northeastern Namibia in five years.
The Namibian exposed that parliamentarians, government officials, councillors, police bosses, traditional leaders and church leaders rank among 230 individuals who want to cut down around 200 000 rare trees in Kavango East. By law, people or entities that want to harvest timber in Namibia are required to have a timber harvesting permit, as well as an environmental clearance certificate from the agriculture and environment ministries, respectively. The government banned the cutting and transportation of timber in November last year after concerns that timber was being harvested without following the correct procedures, and broader concerns over the environmental impact caused by logging mainly in the Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi regions.
Surprisingly, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, last month announced that the environment ministry had authorised them to lift the moratorium on the transportation of timber that was cut or harvested before November 26, 2018.
However, the moratorium on timber harvesting remains in place, and no harvesting permits will be issued until further notice.
Tweya said Namibia export tonnes of fish from the Atlantic Ocean, hence the need to identify where people can add value and where should be exporting.
“We export livestock on the hoof without value addition. It is time that we critically review these practices and ensure that Namibian interests are first. We export marble and granite blocks without local value addition. Yet we import marble and granite for our homes, offices, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls with impunity,” Tweya remarked.
He said Namibia is endowed with rich mineral and other resources but it is time now for Namibians to support the incubation of other industries that will consequently support our Small and Medium Enterprises with an element of women empowerment. Tweya questioned why is it that most school uniforms are produced outside Namibia, asking until when shall this trend continue without empowering her own people. He noted the charcoal industry in Namibia employ quite a number of people and add significant value to our economy. However, he said the entire value chain must be revisited from packaging, warehousing, the importance of railway transportation and TransNamib in this equation and subsequent exportation.
“It is high time that we decentralise our operations. Why does everyone have to travel to Windhoek to register his or her companies? It is unfair towards the Namibian populace. If people want to register their companies, patents or trademarks in any place like Aranos, Khorixas, Mpungu, Okatope, Tsumkwe, Berseba, Bukalo, why do the they have to all flock to Windhoek?” he lamented. He suggests there is need to give unequivocal support to the regional industries such as the Tomatoes Processing Plant in Omusati, thatch grass hub in the North East of the country, Fish and Rice from the Zambezi, Omaheke Dairy Farm, Hardap Solar Energy Plant, Glass Production Factory and Otjozondjupa Cement Factory, among others.
He said there is also need to safeguard and ensure that costs of production and doing business remain low, relevant, competitive and responsive to the industry, adding otherwise Namibians will end up out pricing themselves and become redundant or extinct.
2019-03-11 09:37:23 5 months ago