[Column] Hilton Loring: Manufacture locally to drive Namibia's economy
It cannot have escaped anyone’s attention that Namibia is facing substantial economic headwinds. A recession if you will. This economic downturn has been widely reported on by and economists, politicians, businessmen and women and the general public. Whatever the reason, the impact on the Namibian economy has been extensive. Investments delayed, construction halted, retrenchments and the tightening of belts, all visible results of the recession.
The Namibian economy does not operate in a vacuum and we are very dependent on our larger neighbor South Africa when it comes to the health of our economy. However, there is something much more immediate which impacts our economy and which needs to be addressed. The lack of real manufacturing activities in Namibia, by Namibian companies it really does the economy no favours. Having to import products that we could produce ourselves makes no sense. Using our own nation’s resources, using our own people and selling to our own Namibian consumers would give a tremendous shot in the arm to our economy.
Both the Honorable Minster of Finances, Dr. Calle Schlettwein and Dr. John Steytler, the Economic Advisor to the President of Namibia have called on private companies to do their part. Manufacturing locally stimulates job growth and employment. It keep precious resources, investments and money within our borders. Rather than being shipped straight to South Africa, or even further afield, never to benefit the local economy in any way.
As CEO of Elso Holdings, a Namibian company that has been manufacturing and selling cleaning products for the last 60 years right here in Namibia, I see the positive impact that local manufacturing can have. From simply offering direct and indirect local employment opportunities, to buying from other local suppliers, the business and for want of a better word; ‘the wealth’ is spread locally. Buying raw materials and packaging locally ensures our manufacturing chain is as Namibian as possible. This is essential for any local economy to prosper and grow. That is why we are heeding the Minister of Finance’s call and increasing production of our manufacturing facilities. Upgrading and improving these facilities so that we as a privately owned Namibian company can assist in getting the local economy back on its feet. It also means signing deals with retail and wholesale outlets right here in Namibia. The products manufactured locally need to be available to the consumers and businesses here. Engaging and pursuing local retail contracts becomes essential, retailers and others give a platform for the products to be sold locally and contribute the Namibian economy.
This means investing locally and stimulating employment and training of Namibian staff. Something that we feel is essential for us as an organisation to reach our business goals and in turn help reach Namibia’s goals.