KEETMANSHOOP – “In our journey to regional economic transformation we must use our natural resources to advance structural economic transformation,” said //Kharas Regional Governor Lucia Basson.
She was speaking during her fourth state of the region address in Keetmanshoop over the weekend.
The governor explained that the government in its motivation to establish industries decided to construct two factories in the south, which has been done. “The Keetmanshoop furniture manufacturing plant has been completed and the factory is fully equipped,” Basson elaborated.
She said although a lease agreement was signed with the project promoter, production has not yet started.
Basson said the garment manufacturing plant has also been completed, is fully equipped and will be ready for commissioning during July-August.
“The factory will focus on production of school uniforms supremely but not excluding other garments. This move is a step in the right direction as it ties in with our strategy as government of value addition and growth at home,” she emphasised.
She said that as a means to sustain its operations and maintain the jobs of those that will be employed there, the idea is to encourage all government institutions, and factories and mines to procure at least 20 percent of their protective clothing, school uniforms and other garments from the factory,
Referring to resettlement, she said that a total of 11 farming units were advertised in the local media inviting interested Namibians countrywide to apply for consideration for resettlement under the government’s resettlement programme. She added that //Kharas contributed one farming unit of the 11 and described the resettlement of a family from Köes on the farm as an achievement since farmers were squeezed on a very small piece of the overcrowded village farmlands.
Basson stated the region has successfully started to treat sewer water which is being used on a 100ha irrigation scheme to grow fodder and animal feed.
“This project contributed positively towards waste water disposal processes by reducing and preventing sewer contamination of ground water,” she said.
A setback pointed out by the governor was the absence of value addition from grape production in the region, which could have created more employment opportunities. “Our region produces the best grapes in the world, which is a good thing, however we don’t process grape juice and wine or any other products that can be produced from grapes, apart from exporting all the grapes to international markets,” Basson said.
“We are acutely aware of the plight of the out-of-school youth, students, job-seeking graduates and entrepreneurial start-ups,’’ she said.
She stressed that the promotion of relevant skills through quality vocational education and training remained a priority during the period under review.
Basson furthermore expressed her profound gratitude to Nimt and the Unam southern campus for the role they play in this strategy.
She said that a ground-breaking ceremony took place last year for the construction of a fully-fledged vocational training centre in Keetmanshoop under the auspices of the Namibia Training Authority whereby phase one for the laying of sewer works and water is progressing very well.
Lastly Basson elaborated on youth enterprise development. She explained that the Pwapewa Kadhikwa Institute of Entrepreneurship and Small Medium Enterprises Development in partnership the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development has offered SME development and mentorship programmes from which four entrepreneurs and economists from the region benefitted.
“The programme is aimed at capacitating entrepreneurs with critical knowledge and skills needed for business success,” she said.