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Omaheke Region, the unutilised treasure

By Cde Naftali Kambungu
As a patriotic resident of Omaheke Region, I learnt with deep concern and surprise about high unemployment in the region. How come that the region is endowed with abundant resources, but its resources cannot address the high unemployment?

What is it that we are doing wrong and if we are doing right, why are we not tapping into the resources and address the unemployment problem.

Omaheke Region has small population of about 100 523 (2001 Census), which is one of the lowest in the country. For the sake of analysis allow me to compare Omaheke Region to a small region like Ohangwena. Omaheke Region has the area of about 83 000 square km while Ohangwena Region has the area of about 10 694 square km with the population of 228 384 (2001 Census).This interprets to me mathematically, that in Omaheke Region we have enough land to develop.

Another brainstorming issue is the natural resources where by Omaheke Region have the largest number of livestock in the south of the equator. Take also note that Omaheke is located in the "free zone" (south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence) comparing to Ohangwena Region which is in the buffer zone and as well a Northern Communal Area for that matter. However, the habit of selling wieners on hooves to South Africa from our region should at all times be discouraged.

I agree that the export of wieners to South Africa earns us foreign currency but at the moment we will not make good money from that because of the depreciation of the US dollar against other currencies. Selling wieners to South Africa is just another way of empowering South Africa's industrial power while in the meantime neglecting value addition to our own livestock industry.

Between 2010 and 2011 Namibia imported about 415 tones of frozen beef and 216.8 tones of mutton, a situation that can be avoided. Let us dislodge from the comfort zone of exporting raw materials and shift our minds to industrialisation and commercialisation.

We can either construct one abattoir in Drimiopsis or expand the local abattoir of Gobabis to become an export abattoir like the one in Witvlei, and then we'll have two export abattoirs.

This region has abundant livestock enough even to have three export abattoirs and seven local ones. About 8 000 wieners are being exported to South Africa through TransKalahari Border Post every month. Witvlei abattoir is not big enough to slaughter all our cattle. They only slaughter about 3500-4000 cattle per month.

I have said it several times in this country that countries like China which is the world's second biggest economy after the USA did not come at that rank through selling of raw materials. Actually China does not have enough natural resources like African countries.

It is also interesting to know that in China the culture is Work, Eat and Sleep. Chinese have fallen in love with science and technology and that's what made them a great nation. The northern area of Omaheke Region known as Gam- Eiseb Area is economically viable for tourism. That area is endowed with a variety of wildlife species. SMEs can take advantage of that and set up trophy hunting farms, campsites and crafts dealers among others.

Gam-Eiseb Areahas one of the largest communal area in Namibia, so the fact that is not commercial area we can use it for tourism and generate more income while also taking advantage of the presence of many wildlife species that are present there.

The mining sector which is Namibia's biggest revenue contributor is also good news to Omaheke region. Okasewa, Witvlei Post, Malachite Pan and Gemsbock valley in Steinhausen constituency has reserves of copper (Cu). I do bear in mind the fact that Namibia has a lot of mines but Omaheke as a region need to start it's mining operation to address unemployment. Unemployment can be addressed.

All these abovementioned resources cannot be found in Ohangwena Region but the truth remains Ohangwena has the fast growing economy. Omaheke has a border post (TransKalahari Border Post) and Ohangwena also has a border post (Oshikango Border Post) but if you look at the two borders you don't need to be a town planner to see the difference.

I have said it several times in this country that TransKalahari Settlement is a treasure of Omaheke Region but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears and government seems not to be responding to the call. Invest millions of dollars in TransKalahari Settlement then you grow the economy of the region and the country.

If you need money, you need to invest it. First of all continue to buy more land for the settlement and secondly invest more money in construction of services infrastructure (roads, water, electricity and sewerage).

Let us not delay the development because by doing so we are aborting the good programs set in the SWAPO Party manifesto. On the other hand I want to say vision 2030 is a noble dream but we need to move toward its direction not contrary. Our President HE Hifikepunye Pohamba has several times called captains of industries, private sectors, NGOs, CSO and individuals to double their efforts in order to achieve this noble dream.

The region really needs development and we can only do it if we are working in unity of purpose. Having utilised treasure will not prosper the great Omaheke Region. Today some children in Namibia go to bed without food. All these factors have been as result of unequal income distribution and under-development.

Cde.Naftali Kambungu is a SWAPO District Executive Member in Kalahari District of Omaheke Region but the ideas expressed in this letter are of his own not necessarily for the SWAPO Party.





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