By Hanks Saisai
Technical Advisor: Crops and Poultry.
Namibia is a semi-arid to arid country, despite these conditions, the sustainable production of crops, fruits and vegetables remains key to sustain the food requirements of the nation. Rainfall is a key factor of production in rural areas and on most commercial farms. Moreover, rainfall provides the much-needed moisture that stimulates the regrowth of grasses and facilitates the growth of vegetables, cereal crops and fruit trees.
Namibia’s Dryland Crop Production Program (DCPP) is an intervention that relies largely on natural water from rainfall. Farmers in North Central and North-Eastern Namibia rely heavily on rainfall as a major source of water. Rainwater is integral to crop production in areas where there is no artificial application of water to gardens and fields using irrigation systems. Hence, rainfall is a great source of natural irrigation (application of water to an area used for crop/vegetable production) that influences crop production through its intensity and distribution.
Rainfall intensity is defined as the ratio of the total amount of rain received during a given period, usually expressed as mm/hour. When there is too much rainfall received in a short period of time it can have negative effect on the growth of crops. For instance, 70 mm/hour rainfall intensity can cause direct damage to plants by damaging the shoots, leaves and in severe cases the stems and branches of fruit trees.
High intensity rainfall causes physical damage to flower, which are essential for the pollination process, that results in fruit formation. In addition, high intensity rainfall lowers the activities of pollination agents such as bees, insects and other organisms that move pollen grains from the male part (anther) of a flower to the female part (stigma) of another flower for fertilization to occur. Once pollination occurs, the fertilized flowers produce seeds, which enable the associated plant to reproduce and/or form fruit. In sandy areas, high rainfall intensity may influence the soils to have rapid infiltration and drainage of water which relocates soil nutrients from the topsoil to the subsoil making them unavailable for crops with shallow root systems through a process known as leaching. On the other hand, areas that are predominated by clay soils, high rainfall intensity may cause flooding of crop fields that will lead to water logging conditions (resulting in suffocation of plant roots due to a lack of oxygen supply). Ultimately, these factors hinder the desired growth of crops that are grown by farmers who solely rely on rainfall as a means of irrigation.
Rainfall distribution is another factor that has a direct effect on the growth of crops, it can simply be defined as the way rainfall is received through a given rainy season in an area. Crops need water throughout the growing phase, so the availability of adequate water in the soil is essential to enable plants (crops) to grow rapidly. It is of great importance when relying on rainfall as a means of irrigation to know that if there is a dry spell of a week or two it may be harmful for seedlings, as they do not have established root systems that may reach water that is deeper down in the soil. This may result in the wilting of seedlings and if no water is applied to these crop fields, it may result in crop failure. Moreover, leafy vegetables such as Lettuce, Cabbages and Spinach may become bitter and flower prematurely. On the other hand, the effect of poor rainfall distribution on fruit vegetables such as tomatoes, can cause them to flower and set fruits before enough vegetative growth has been made. For cereal crops such as Maize, Sorghum and Pearl millet (Mahangu), when the distribution of rainfall tends to be poor, they may also be forced to flower and set tassels early before the needed time for vegetative growth.
In extreme cases where rainfall distribution is very poor, crop failure is normally high which results in food shortages in many rural households that are actively involved in the primary production of cereal crops.
In the final analysis, for one to be a successful producer of cereal crops or vegetables whilst relying on rainfall, it is of great importance to pay attention to the forecasted rainfall’s intensity and distribution as these are key factors that have a direct impact on crop growth.
Low intensity rainfall that is received over a long period of time (for instance 15mm/hour for 7 hours) is ideal for the soil as it ensures that most of the water infiltrates the soil and is made available to plant roots. High intensity rainfall makes it difficult for the soil to absorb most of the water, which may result in surface run-off leading to erosion.
The distribution of rainfall is key as good distribution patterns ensure that moisture in the soil is adequate to support plant growth throughout the growing season. An even distribution of rainfall promotes rapid plant growth. Poor distribution may result in the scorching of crops due to prolonged exposure to sunlight especially in sandy soils where water retention capacity is very poor.
The first ever MTC Horse racing Derby which took place this weekend in Okahandja saw different horse racing clubs compete for a share of N$250,000 prize money.
The derby, organised by the Namibia Horse Racing Association and hosted by the Okahandja Horse Club, featured participants from Gobabis, Rehoboth, Okakarara, Otjinene, Okondjatu, Aminuis and Okahandja.
Ending TJihoro’s Freedom Fighter from Ovitito showed a clean pair of hooves with Freedom Fighter scooping the NamBred 2400 metres division with it the N$10000 purse.
Coming in second was Leeuloop from Okahandja Racing and not far behind Von Trotha from from Otjinene, reared by Edison Kandji.
In the Imports section over 2200 metres Willem Lotz ‘Fort Love’ was the horse to beat – leaving behind fellow Rehoboth inhabitant ‘Forged in Flame’ of Gerald van der Vent. In respectable third was Horse Stebbins, from the mother of race clubs ‘Professor Supporters Club’ from Okondjatu.
“This is our first derby ever since MTC came on board to support this sport code through us,
and we are pleased that it is a resounding success. Horseracing is big, and continuing to grow, and with the support of our sponsor, MTC, we will realize significant growth.” said Namibia Horse
Racing Association president, Marthinus De Waal.
“Without a doubt, horseracing is one of the popular sport events which is normally enjoyed by many Namibians; and with sound management and properly organised efforts from all parties involved, we ought to see it grow to lofty heights. Our stern commitment to stream-line support into sport is strategic, because we believe that sport is one of the effective vehicles for uplifting communities, and contribute to the socio-welfare of the people,” said MTC’s Corporate Affairs Manager, John Ekongo.
Put small-scale traders at the heart of efforts to accelerate trade and investment in Africa post COVID-19, experts say
Industry experts at a recent virtual discussion focused on resetting, retooling and restarting regional integration in Africa in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, underscored the importance of putting small scale traders at the heart of any initiatives.
The joint webinar, organized by the African Development Bank and Korea Customs Service(KCS), looked at service sectors, e-commerce, digital platforms and value chain development as critical factors for accelerating trade and investment in Africa against the backdrop of the global pandemic. The webinar was delivered in three sessions, moderated by Stephen Karangizi, Director, African Legal Support Facility; Dr. Stephen Karingi, Director at Regional Integration and Trade Division of UNECA and Acha Leke, Senior Partner at McKinsey
History has demonstrated the success of countries and businesses that seize new opportunities during times of crisis, said Sukhwan Roh, Commissioner of the Korea Customs Service. “The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed health and livelihoods of individuals across the world in less than a year,” he said. “Korea wishes to share all the achievements in system enhancement utilizing new technologies with African countries.”
The workshop’s audience heard how regional integration is increasingly central to the continent’s future economic prospects and to attracting foreign direct investment. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement, (AfCFTA), already ratified by 30 countries, is expected to come into effect on 1 January, 2021. Uniting all 55 member states of the African Union, the pact will create a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of over $3.4 trillion
COVID-19 has deepened pre-existing trade frictions within the continent yet offers important growth opportunities and great stories of innovation and highlights the importance of protecting Africa’s place in local value chains, said Anabel Gonzalez, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics, with the need to “put small scale traders at the heart of the effort.” She urged governments to strengthen national agencies to provide support to small traders.
“AfCFTA creates a new trade and integration reality…integrating unequal partners across the continent,” said Trudi Hartzenberg Executive Director of the Trade Law Center (TRALAC). Trade facilitation enjoys specific focus within the AfCFTA, with digital, e-payments, and e-commerce particularly important, she added, citing a 2020 WTO report that emphasized education and healthcare as fundamental to industrialization.
From the outset, the African Development Bank has lent strong support to the AfCFTA, financing the set-up of its secretariat as well as supporting member countries with technical assistance to comply with a range of AfCFTA regulations, said Bank Vice President, Infrastructure, Private Sector & Industrialization, Solomon Quaynor in his introductory remarks read by Abdu Mukhtar, Bank Director, Industrial and Trade Development Department.
Still, Quaynor warned, post-crisis recovery efforts are likely to be slow. “The AfCFTA will not in one dramatic swoop alter existing commercial and economic realities on a vast scale. However, through strategic measures and the right investments, policy frameworks and political backing, intra-African trade will be enhanced.”
Namibia has approved an upfront payment of N$26.4 million to the COVAX global COVID-19 vaccine distribution scheme, senior health ministry Executive Director Ben Nangombe told Xinhua last week.
Nangombe said the nation plans to make the payment next week, which will give it access to coronavirus vaccines for 20% of its population.
He said the COVAX facility provides good value for money because other vaccines may require complicated cold chain management systems.
“We would want to get a product that is easy to manage, easy to roll out and easy to administer. Namibia is a vast country, and the vastness of the country is such that you don’t have all the sophisticated infrastructure in some parts of the country,” he said.
Unlike many other African countries, Namibia does not qualify for subsidized vaccines under the COVAX scheme because it is classified as an upper-middle-income country like its neighbours South Africa and Botswana.
Namibia has reported relatively low COVID-19 cases at just over 14,000 with 147 deaths, but its mining and tourism-dependent economy has been severely impacted by the pandemic.
By NJ Ayuk
Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.
Africa has already made an indelible mark in the oil industry. It is home to four of the world’s top 20 crude oil producers — Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, and Libya — and these same four countries also have some of the largest oil reserves in the world.
So far, it hasn’t made quite as much of a splash in the gas industry. The only African countries on the list of the world’s top 20 gas producers are Algeria and Nigeria, and one of the states that has the largest gas reserves is Mozambique, which is still several years away from bringing its major fields on line.
But the gap between African oil and gas doesn’t have to be permanent. The continent’s gas industry is on the verge of real transformation, as the African Energy Chamber (AEC) notes in our 2021 Africa Energy Outlook, released earlier this month. I’d like to describe what forms that shift might take — and explain how the changes would benefit Africans.
New Sources of Production
Some of the change I expect is going to happen in the upstream sector — that is, in the realm of exploration and production.
First, the continent’s current leading producers are likely to produce more. North African states such as Egypt and Algeria will account for part of this increase, as they are looking to ramp up development at existing natural gas fields. But another part of it will stem from programs designed to reduce the flaring of associated gas found in oil fields. Both Nigeria and Angola, for example, have plans to expand the use of associated gas. The former aims to deliver its production to the domestic market, while the latter is looking to split its production between the local market and the export-oriented Angola LNG project.
The upshot of these trends is that the list of Africa’s top gas producers will probably remain static until the middle of the decade. As the AEC’s outlook explains: “The (continent’s) top five crude oil producers — Nigeria and Angola from the west, and Algeria, Egypt, and Libya from North Africa — complete the top five natural gas producers for 2020 and 2021. These five countries contribute about 90% of the overall natural gas output from the continent for both (2020 and 2021), and the expected forecast suggests the share of these countries will remain the same going into the mid-2020s.”
At that point, though, new producers will start to play a more prominent role. Mozambique is due to launch its first greenfield project at Area 1 in 2024, and its offshore zone may become a major source of natural gas by 2025-2026. The Mauritania-Senegal offshore zone may follow a similar timeline, as the Greater Tortue/Ahmeyim blocks may begin yielding natural gas in 2023, followed later by the Yakaar-Teranga and BirAllah projects. What’s more, all four of the projects mentioned in this paragraph will support gas liquefaction plants capable of producing and exporting LNG.
By the end of the decade, then, there will be more than five countries accounting for the bulk of Africa’s total gas production. Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Egypt, and Libya will be joined by at least three others —Mozambique, Mauritania, and Senegal.
Domestic Consumption vs. Exports
Meanwhile, consumption patterns are going to shift along with production patterns. Once again, this shift is likely to begin once the large new fields in the Mozambique and Mauritania/Senegal provinces come online.
The change may not be obvious on a macro level, because it won’t be evident in the split between exports and domestic consumption. That is, Africa will continue to use about 70% of the gas it extracts and will export continue to the remaining 30%. As the AEC’s outlook explains, though, the geography of African gas exports will not remain static.
“The pattern has been relatively stable since 2012 with about 70% serving local markets, 20% exported to Europe and 10% exported to Asia,” the report states. “The mid-2020s LNG startups are also expected to distort this picture by increasing the market share for East Asia LNG exports. This development is, however, not (a consequence) of local markets’ (rising demand), but rather the shrinking ability of North African countries to maintain their export capacity to Europe on the back of strong domestic demand growth. By 2030, the expectation is effectively for East Asia and Europe to be inverted, while domestic market share remains constant.”
In short, Africa is on track to produce more gas by the end of the decade but will keep the same share of the total for its own use. At the same time, Asia will replace Europe as the most important market for African gas exports.
Gas Means Jobs
These trends are interesting, but you may want to ask: What do they mean for ordinary Africans, for people who are less concerned with production data and trade balances than with questions about how to support their families?
They mean a great deal.
As I’ve mentioned, the 2021 Africa Energy Outlook report projects that African gas production is going to rise, especially after new fields come on line and ramp up development in the middle of the decade. It also anticipates that African gas consumption will rise, even if domestic consumption continues to absorb a full 70% of total production.
As production goes up, upstream operators will create jobs. They will need people to help them build, operate, maintain, and repair production, transportation, and processing facilities. They will also need people to administer their local operations. Additionally, they will need to meet legal requirements or contractual commitments for local content, so they will need to hire African contractors. Those African contractors, in turn, will need employees of all kinds, and so will hire African workers.
And as consumption goes up, even more jobs will be created. Distributors will need new pipelines to deliver the gas to end-users, so they will need people who can help them build, operate, maintain, repair, and administer those pipelines, along with associated infrastructure facilities such as storage depots. And even in the absence of pipelines, they will need to acquire tankers and containers so that they can bring gas to customers by road, rail, or river. Accordingly, they will need people to procure, operate, maintain, repair, and administer these operations.
Meanwhile, there’s more. The hiring of more African workers is sure to have knock-on effects. If, for example, employees of upstream operators need a way to get to a remote worksite, local transportation companies may be able to serve them. If so, those transportation companies may have to hire more people to drive their vehicles. Likewise, if African construction firms need to procure extra building materials to uphold their contracts with upstream operators, local suppliers may be able to meet their needs. And if so, those local suppliers may have to hire more people to handle their inventory.
In other words, as Africa’s gas industry grows, it has the potential to create thousands and thousands of jobs! Of course, some of them, such as construction jobs, will be temporary. Some of them will be more permanent, though, especially if the governments of gas-producing states work with upstream operators to develop local hiring and training standards that expand the capacity of the local workforce.
All the Way Down the Value Chain
But the knock-on effect doesn’t have to stop there.
In my most recent book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, I urged African oil and gas producers to look as far down the value chain as they could. I advised them to pursue projects that treated hydrocarbons not just as exportable raw materials but as inputs for value-added operations such as fertilizer or petrochemical manufacturing. I also suggested that they look for ways to focus on gas-to-power projects with the intent of improving domestic electricity supplies — and not just because new power grids would benefit African businesses.
It is true, of course, that some African businesses will be able to create more jobs if they do not have to worry about blackouts. Likewise, it is true that gas-to-power projects will create jobs of their own in areas such as construction, operations, maintenance, and administration. But it is also true that African households need and deserve access to reliable energy supplies, regardless of employment levels — and that gas-to-power plans can help them!
I’m hardly the only person to reach this conclusion. When I wrote Billions at Play, several African countries had already rolled out ambitious gas-to-power schemes. Nigeria, for example, was in the process of implementing a program that promoted associated gas as fuel for new power plants. Since then, others have followed suit. For instance, as the AEC’s energy outlook notes, Senegal has unveiled plans for using its future gas production to generate electricity for the domestic market. Mozambique already has a couple of gas-to-power projects in the works, too.
But it shouldn’t stop there. I’d like to see more gas producers do this as they ramp up gas production in the second half of the decade. If they do, they will have accomplished something beyond merely increasing output levels. They will have taken concrete action to strengthen their economies and benefit their own citizens. And in so doing, they will have made their mark on the world!
GEKA Pharma recently donated N$150,000 to the CHICA Interim Home for childhood cancer patients.
Rolf Hansen, Chief Executive of Cancer Association said GEKA has recommitted their support in the fight on childhood cancer, therefore this donation enables them to accommodate childhood cancer patients and a parent on complimentary-basis.
“This includes three meals a day and transportation during treatment in Windhoek and the house can currently accommodate up to 10 patients per night,” he added.
The Cancer Association extended their heartfelt gratitude for this donation that enables them to again touch lives during 2021.
(l-r)- Estell Viljoen, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Association of Namibian, Messrs Willie van Wyk, Cecilia Aluvilu, Raunda de Beer and Jan-Christo Coetzer from GEKA Pharmacy with Barseba Tjipoza, the home matron.