The Windhoek City Council last Thursday approved its ambitious Windhoek Economic Recovery Initiative (WERI) through which it aims to create a minimum of 5 000 new permanent jobs; increase the city’s contribution to the national GDP from 33% to 36%; and grow the city’s revenue to N$20 billion.
An update from the municipal council’s ordinary meeting on 29 April indicated that WERI’s objectives also include prioritising employment creation with preference for projects that maximise employment creation and empower Namibian business initiatives, and all of this between this year and 2025. In this regard, WERI will reserve at least 60% for Namibians, while 40% will be reserved for international entities, with an obvious bias towards Windhoek-based entities.
The initiative also aims to build competitive local industries through domestic investments, and will endeavour to find an alternative to the traditional tender methods to basically fast-track a generation of ideas and their implementation.
Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda was clearly excited about the WERI when he announced its approval on social media. “You no longer have to pay bribes and/or follow a corrupt path to submit your business ideas and proposals to the city. A general call for proposals will be sent out, and an opportunity will be provided to everyone,” read Amupanda’s social media update.
The mayor added that WERI will give all an opportunity to submit job creation business ideas, saying “Ideas that have the most impact, particularly with job creation to the Windhoek and Namibian economy, will be approved and supported”. Noting that more details on WERI will be provided this week, Amupanda also hinted at a media briefing to formerly announce the initiative.
Meanwhile, a Windhoek City Council statement on WERI said to achieve the desired economic resilience and prosperity for Windhoek and its residents, the city’s municipal council must be both proactive and responsive to changing economic conditions, whether they be opportunities or threats.
“While council should encourage new and innovative ideas/businesses, equally of importance is the protection and support for existing businesses,” read the council statement.
The council also explained that WERI has been drafted in line with the Social Progress, Economic Advancement and Infrastructure Development theme of the city’s strategic plan (2017-2022), with the main aim of creating a conducive environment for businesses not only to recover economically, but also to thrive.
“The WERI recognises that there might be residents, businesses, entrepreneurs, academics or not-for-profit organisations that may have ideas that can solve council’s problems, improve council’s service delivery, or create job opportunities. To harness these, a platform needs to be created within which these ideas can be communicated to council, and be actioned on. To do this, a new approach to how things are done is necessary. This initiative will allow council to collaborate with the residents in an agile and fast-tracked manner to realise needed developments,” the statement read.
The City Council has also identified certain sectors for which WERI business project proposals can be invited, including tourism and hospitality (value chain); telecommunications and financial services; housing and infrastructure; manufacturing; construction; urban agriculture; renewable energy; and transportation.
According to the council, it is critical that the value proposition to stimulate economic vibrancy and development within the capital be noted. For this, the role the council directly and indirectly plays in facilitating economic recovery at a corporate, local and countrywide level can be through developing institutional frameworks and dialogue with residents and local stakeholders to manage the economic effects and speed up recovery.
Moreover, the council noted that there is a need to take a bottom-up approach with WERI, such as the Windhoek Mayoral Business Forum (WMBF), Special Ratings Areas (SRAs) and the Windhoek Economic Development Partnership (WEDP).
“It is crucial for council to establish effective collaborative platforms with businesses, including the financial industry, to jointly plan and support economic development initiatives. This will ensure that the relevant resources and infrastructure support is availed to stimulate and support economic growth. Let residents and businesses initiate programmes and projects that will work for them,” the council stated.
The City Council is expected to soon appoint a steering committee to drive the implementation of WERI. “It is envisaged that a fair and equitable evaluation process with a great degree of confidentiality will be utilised by the committee when evaluating proposals received by council.
Reasonable timeframes for providing responses to proposals will also be expected by applicants,” the council stated.