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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Namibians find new careers in Chinese road projects 

WINDHOEK (Xinhua) -- Amid lackluster economy and surging unemployment, some Namibians have found solace in the road construction sector, where, thanks to some Chinese projects, new jobs are emerging.

Among them is Elina Nashixwa, a human resource manager for China Henan International Cooperation Group, which recently upgraded a road linking Otjinene with Okamatapati in the east Omaheke region.

The over 140-km road that was upgraded to bitumen standards by the company was inaugurated by President Hage Geingob last week.

Nashixwa has been part of the project for the past three years and she says the whole industry has transformed her life in ways she could have never imagined.

“I am blessed to be a part of this project which has employed half thousand young Namibians who three years ago were unemployed. I now have skills that I did not have before,” she said.

The massive motorway construction program envisioned by Namibia is set to improve transport connections and boost the country’s economy.

The new motorways, as well as many new rural roads being built, will connect the country’s many small and remote villages to the main road network.

Yet apart from improving transportation and boosting trade, Nashixwa suggests the road has transformed many local people’s lives in a more specific way.

Among the locals the company hired, many started off with no knowledge to become skilled and specialized.

Nashixwa is in charge of organizational development, industrial relations and recruitment, and she said apart from managerial positions, locals also took up jobs that require very special skills.

“Final cutters operate the grader machine for the tar to be leveled, which is very complicated and all this knowledge was taught by the Chinese nationals,” she said.

The new bitumen-standard road between Gobabis and Grootfontein links the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions via the Otjinene-Okondjatu and Okamatapati settlements.

Construction on the project started in December 2013, and the final section is a 110-km stretch between Okamatapati and Grootfontein that will be launched in July.

More than 15 small and medium enterprises were involved in the construction of the road and 500 people were employed during the peak period. A further 300 unskilled Namibian were also engaged during the construction.

The Otjinene-Okamatapati road forms part of the Southern African Regional Trunk Road linking Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana with Angola via Namibia.

Namibia was once accorded the top position for having the best roads in Africa by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which found Namibia’s roads to be the best in Africa and of similar quality to those in Britain and Puerto Rico.

The expansion of the road network has already started to bear fruit as many communities in Namibia are now able to sell their products to major urban centers in the country and beyond.

Also, the road infrastructure of Namibia continues to contribute to the economic growth of other SADC countries as Namibia is currently accessible by all the SADC member states, with land-locked countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo now having access to the Atlantic Ocean via the Port of Walvis Bay.

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EARLIER REPORTS;

Namibia opens new road upgraded by Chinese company

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Namibian President Hage Geingob Thursday officially opened a road that was upgraded to bitumen standards by a Chinese firm.

The 140-km stretch from Otjinene to Okamatapati in the Omaheke region cost 575 million Namibian dollars (about 45 million U.S. dollars) and was upgraded by China Henan International Cooperation Group.

Work on the road started on Jan. 13 in 2014 and was completed on Dec. 19 in 2016.

In his speech, Geingob said the completion of the road will position Namibia as a gateway to the southern Africa region.

Geingob said the constant expansion and upgrading of road networks is vital to increase economic performance, both within Namibia and in the southern African region in general.

According to Geingob, the project that entails the bitumen upgrading of the existing gravel road to provide a tarred road link from Otjinene to Grootfontein is set to become one of the primary economic enablers.

“The fact that the Otjinene to Okamatapati forms part of the Southern African Regional Trunk Road linking Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana with Angola via Namibia further magnifies the economic and regional significance of this project,” Geingob said.

Given Namibia’s high accident rate, Geingob also appealed to drivers and other road users to exercise caution, patience and courteousness.

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Namibia’s trade deficit grows by 29 pct in Q4 2016

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- In the fourth quarter of 2016, Namibia recorded a trade deficit of 14.2 billion Namibian dollars (1.08 billion U.S. dollars) indicating a growth of 29 percent compared to the same quarter the previous year.

Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) on Wednesday, released the quarterly trade statistics report which shows that the growth in the trade deficit resulted from a stronger growth experienced in import expenditure in comparison to the growth observed in export revenue.

According to NSA, the import bill grew to 29.3 billion Namibian dollars (2.22 billion U.S. dollars) in Q4-2016 compared to 25.8 billion Namibian dollars (1.96 billion U.S. dollars) recorded in the same quarter of 2015, translating into a 13.6 percent increase.

“Vessels, mineral fuel and oils, boilers and vehicles emerged as the most imported commodities which contributed largely to the import bill for Q4-2016,” the agency said.

NSA said likewise, exports increased to 15.1 billion Namibian dollars (1.15 billion U.S. dollars) compared to 14.8 billion Namibian dollars (1.12 billion U.S. dollars) recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2015, resulting in a 2 percent increase.

In terms of commodities, minerals (diamonds, copper ores, copper cathodes, and zinc) and fish were the largest exported commodities by value, NSA noted.

Meanwhile, Namibia’s imports were mainly sourced from South Africa, Norway, Bahamas, Botswana and Zambia, while during the period under review, the leading export markets were South Africa, Botswana, Switzerland, EPZ and Italy. 

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Hard recovery ahead after Namibia flood destroys lives

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- When 36-year-old Leena Asheela migrated from her village to Oshakati town in northern Namibia, she had big hopes for her life in the urban area.

“I couldn’t produce enough surplus to support my family in the village due to poor yields. I decided to come to town and set up my shack and seek ways to improve my life and earn an income,” she said.

Everything seemed sanguine in the beginning: Asheela worked in a bar to earn enough money to build her own shack with corrugated iron, and from there she set up her own tailoring business.

Her tailor business has been going well for two years, until the recent flood pelted the region, destroying her high hopes for a better future.

“My shack and those of fellow dwellers are now under water. My items and equipment have been damaged, and have no place to stay either,” she told Xinhua.

Asheela is one of the more than 570 residents of Oshoopla settlement area who have been displaced by the recent flood in the northern part of Namibia.

The flood is caused by the overflowing Kunene River, said senior hydrologist Leonard Hango. Water levels in the Cuvelai Iishanas are rising after heavy rains in Angola caused more foods in the catchment.

Katarina Kamari, communications officer at Oshakati Town Council, said 571 residents, including 282 children, had been displaced by the floods and were accommodated in 32 tents at Ekuku, another residential under the Oshakati Town Council.

“We are grateful that we have been re-located. However we endured losses, and we continue to miss out on making a living for ourselves,” said Asheela.

Challenges of relocation also persist. “Our tents are leaking because they are old, and we also do not have food,” Asheela said.

According to Kamari, the town council currently provides food and basic facilities to the flood victims, assisted by local business community and the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) that has distributed first aid items such as toiletries and malaria preventive kit.

Oshana region is not the only region affected by the flood. The senior hydrologist said western parts of Ohangwena and northern Omusati regions are also among the hard-hit.

In Ohangwena region, according to Hango, residents of Odibo, Onamhinda and Engela have been relocated to Omafo where they lived in temporary shelters.

Like Asheela in Oshana region, Victoria Festus in Ohangwena region has been hard-hit by the floods.

“We have endured many losses due to the floods, including our livestock and homes,” said Festus, a resident of Onamhinda village.

As for Asheela, although living in a shelter, she is still reeling from the shattered hopes of a prosperous life by the floods. “This means after the floods, I have to start from scratch again to rebuild my life,” she said.

While the flood has not yet been declared as a natural disaster, Urban and Rural Development Minister Sophia Shaningwa said aid was coming.

“We have already started addressing the challenges of the people here, and we have contact business community to meet us halfway and help,” said Shaningwa.

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Namibian cabbies to stage protest over low pay

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- The Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) said cabbies would stage a protest next Monday against low pay and other unresolved concerns.

Speaking to Xinhua Friday, Wener Januarie, NTTU Secretary General, said taxi drivers were underpaid and they would march on a day before Namibia’s 27th Independence celebration to show displeasure.

Januarie said their demands were 4,000 Namibian dollars (about 300 U.S. dollars) in basic salary for taxi drivers, while complaining they currently “face slave-like treatment from employees and at times work without pay.”

The union official added that taxi owners should also take responsivity for fines that taxi drivers get when they are penalized.

“A lot of tickets are issued to taxi drivers while owners of these taxis don’t feel the effects of traffic fines and therefore it’s the union’s strong-held opinion that these fines must be separated so that a portion directly be issued to the owners of these taxis,” he said.

The union has also demanded for a 2-Namibian-dollar increase in taxi fares in Windhoek, which would see the price rise to 12 Namibian dollars per trip.

It has made the proposal to the Ministry of Works and Transport and are still waiting for their response.

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Namibian wood carvers face unstable market

By Johanna Absalom WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- It is a Monday afternoon at Kanguni village in the Kavango East region, northeast Namibia. Under a tree, with a sharp gouge, long time resident of Kanguni, Petrus Kwitu was perfecting a canoe sculpt out of a tree trunk.

He is carving for one reason- hoping that the piece of art would generate him an income.

In sight are hand-made carvings and pottery on display that he sells on the side of the road, close to his house. He is one of the many wood carvers in the region who makes a living from this craft.

“I am happy I am talented in wood carving. I venture into this trade, hoping to earn a substantial income,” said Kwitu.

According to Kwitu, carving and perfecting the wooden canoe takes him about two weeks.

But trading with canoes and sculpt over the years has not been easy for the artist. The unstable market is thwarting him.

“Selling the product is proving to be a challenge. The customers come in small numbers. If you are lucky, you get a tourist who buys your product,” he said.

Decline in the number of customers has led to the unsustainability of the market and made it difficult for wood carvers to prosper.

Kwitu is not the only artist in the region worried about their future. According to Abel Ngongo, more often, prices have to be negotiated. Negotiating with customers is also a challenge for Ngongo.

“We don’t have customers to buy every day. We get two or three customers per week or even monthly on a bad month. As a result, we usually sell at negotiated prices,” Ngongo said.

Of late, products initially priced at 1,000 Namibian dollars (77 U.S. dollars) can be marked down even up to 500 Namibian dollars  (38 U.S. dollars).

“At times, we have to sell the products for as little as 300 Namibian dollars (23 U.S. dollars),” bemoaned Ngongo.

Samuel Mbambo, Governor of the Kavango East Region, said that wood carving is one of the region’s trademarks.

“Wood carving has been an integral part of the culture of the many tribes in the region. And as such, many have turned to it for income generation,” he said.

Mbambo also acknowledged the plight of the wood carvers, especially those trading in rural areas.

To address the plight of the wood carvers, the governor said the region will look into conducting empirical research on the wood carving and crafts trade in the region to find out how much they earn in revenue.

“I would like to see research conducted on this trade, especially the informal market chain and establish how much they generate revenue and its market chain thereof. The end result would be to seek ways and establish stronger markets for them, an alternatively see how this can be accelerated if they can be linked to mainstream markets,” according to Mbambo.

In the meantime, while the governing office seek ways to address their plight, Kwitu said that he would continue carving out of passion.

“I also have to earn the little that I can to sustain my family and livelihood,” he said, as he starts carving a small elephant out of wood which he hopes will sell.

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Hard recovery ahead after Namibia flood destroys lives

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- When 36-year-old Leena Asheela migrated from her village to Oshakati town in northern Namibia, she had big hopes for her life in the urban area.

“I couldn’t produce enough surplus to support my family in the village due to poor yields. I decided to come to town and set up my shack and seek ways to improve my life and earn an income,” she said.

Everything seemed sanguine in the beginning: Asheela worked in a bar to earn enough money to build her own shack with corrugated iron, and from there she set up her own tailoring business.

Her tailor business has been going well for two years, until the recent flood pelted the region, destroying her high hopes for a better future.

“My shack and those of fellow dwellers are now under water. My items and equipment have been damaged, and have no place to stay either,” she told Xinhua.

Asheela is one of the more than 570 residents of Oshoopla settlement area who have been displaced by the recent flood in the northern part of Namibia.

The flood is caused by the overflowing Kunene River, said senior hydrologist Leonard Hango. Water levels in the Cuvelai Iishanas are rising after heavy rains in Angola caused more foods in the catchment.

Katarina Kamari, communications officer at Oshakati Town Council, said 571 residents, including 282 children, had been displaced by the floods and were accommodated in 32 tents at Ekuku, another residential under the Oshakati Town Council.

“We are grateful that we have been re-located. However we endured losses, and we continue to miss out on making a living for ourselves,” said Asheela.

Challenges of relocation also persist. “Our tents are leaking because they are old, and we also do not have food,” Asheela said.

According to Kamari, the town council currently provides food and basic facilities to the flood victims, assisted by local business community and the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) that has distributed first aid items such as toiletries and malaria preventive kit.

Oshana region is not the only region affected by the flood. The senior hydrologist said western parts of Ohangwena and northern Omusati regions are also among the hard-hit.

In Ohangwena region, according to Hango, residents of Odibo, Onamhinda and Engela have been relocated to Omafo where they lived in temporary shelters.

Like Asheela in Oshana region, Victoria Festus in Ohangwena region has been hard-hit by the floods.

“We have endured many losses due to the floods, including our livestock and homes,” said Festus, a resident of Onamhinda village.

As for Asheela, although living in a shelter, she is still reeling from the shattered hopes of a prosperous life by the floods. “This means after the floods, I have to start from scratch again to rebuild my life,” she said.

While the flood has not yet been declared as a natural disaster, Urban and Rural Development Minister Sophia Shaningwa said aid was coming.

“We have already started addressing the challenges of the people here, and we have contact business community to meet us halfway and help,” said Shaningwa.

             

 

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