The Kavango West Regional Council announced that the Nkurenkuru Primary Healthcare Clinic started with the provision of services to patients last week.
Operation hours start from 08:00 to 17:00 on weekdays, for now, a statement released said.
The Council said the clinic is open for screening and treatment while other services such as counselling and testing are expected to be introduced in the near future.
“The project commenced in 2012 and its completion has been a challenge after the contractor abandoned the site, but other subcontractors had to be appointed to complete the construction and have it ready for operations,” added the Council.
Governor of the Kavango West, Sirkka Ausiku said Nkurenkuru is a fast-growing town that needs suitable health and educational facilities to attract experts and investors to come and work in the town and region at large.
Insisting that there is space for both the existing fishing industry and a future marine phosphate industry, Chris Brown of the Chamber of Environment, this week defended his position on the co-existence of the two industries.
“Marine phosphate mining and fishing are two activities that can operate side by side, with virtually no conflict, to more than double the current economic returns and jobs provided by the Blue Economy,” he stated in reaction to an attack by the fishing industry on the many Environmental Impact Assessment studies which show that there is no significant impact on the marine ecosystem and on the fishing sector, a situation reflected in the Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) process which factors in marine mining, but subject to environmental assessment.
Late last week, the Chairman of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, Mr Matti Amukwa, released a strongly-worded statement to the media, attacking the environmental impact assessments on phosphate mining, and attempting to bring into disrepute, Dr Brown’s standing as an independent scientist. This followed after an interview with the scientist on his views as an environmental expert, was published in the local media.
Reiterating the future potential and importance of marine phosphate mining, Dr Brown said “The science shows that it has minimal environmental impact on the marine ecosystem, will contribute about 9% of GDP, about 25% more than the fishing industry which contributes 6.6% of GDP, and will support about 50,000 jobs, similar to the fishing industry.”
Regarding the credibility of the Chamber of Environment, and his role as its Chief Executive, Dr Brown stated that an environmentalist is mostly a self-styled role for which no particular qualification is required. An environmental scientist, on the other hand, is qualified in the science of environmental management and does not denounce all development projects on the grounds that they could have some ecological impact.
“Environmental scientists weigh up the ecological, social and economic pros and cons and then arrive at a considered position of what is good for the country in terms of sustainable development. Unemployment and poverty are themselves huge environmental and social risks that could threaten the stability of the country. That is how I arrived at the view that the proposed marine phosphate mining in Mining License area 170 is a good project for Namibia,” he stated.
On Mr Amukwa’s charge that Dr Brown has privileged access to some documentation, the latter said “the full verification study is available to the public on the NMP website which anyone can access. All reports that formed parted of the previous assessment are available on the NMP website. The new independent studies that are not yet released to the public (or to me), and which will be part of the updated EIA, are listed in the Scoping Report, were mentioned in the public consultative meetings, and their key findings were presented. These key findings revealed no issues of concern.”
Public sentiment against marine phosphate mining in New Zealand and Mexico was cited by Mr Amukwa as reason enough to prevent any similar mining in Namibian waters, however, Dr Brown refuted these comparisons, pointing out that the seabed morphology is not the same.
“The issue of marine phosphate mining not being approved in New Zealand is often raised as a reason for not approving marine phosphate mining in Namibia. This has been explained many times, but some people simply do not want to know the facts. In New Zealand, the phosphate occurs in rocky nodules on the ocean floor. These rocky nodules form the substrate for an important cold-water coral and sponge community which provides habitat for many other species. The New Zealand authorities were right not to allow mining there. In Namibia, the phosphate is contained in sand grains on a uniform seabed without any special features. The substrate would be “mined” by means of a suction dredger, down to a maximum of 2.5 m, not the 4-6 m mentioned by Mr Amukwa,” according to Dr Brown.
Speaking to the Economist, Dr Brown said the environmental damage done every year by the fishing industry is larger by orders of magnitude, when compared to marine phosphate mining. “The footprint of the proposed marine phosphate mining in ML 170 is 34 sq km over 20 years – on average 1.7 sq km per year. By contrast, the area of seabed disturbed by bottom trawling fishing vessels is estimated to be at least 18,500 sq km per year.”
As a parting volley, the scientist had this to say: “Mr Amukwa is tilting at windmills, a Don Quixotic fight against an imaginary threat where none exists. Please sir, do not get locked into a position based on emotion and misinformation. Look at the scientific evidence provided by all the independent scientific specialists and independent reviewers. What you are doing is trying to deprive the country of an industry larger than your own fishing industry because of intransigence and ignorance. We can have both industries, Namibia needs both.”
ICT infrastructure and equipment provider, Powercom on Wednesday launched and commissioned a network tower in Okahandja, aimed at improving access to telecommunications services and unreliable network coverage.
The tower will increase access to services in the town and further improve network coverage on the national roads leading in and out of Okahandja to Karibib and Otjiwarongo, respectively.
Information and Communication Technology Minister, Dr Peya Mushelenga officially launched the tower, where he highlighted the importance of telecommunications as a catalyst for business and investment in the country.
Dr Mushelenga said although the COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on many, it also inspired technological innovations that are now being widely used in the country.
Many schools and tertiary institutions now offer classes remotely through ICT technology while companies and some public institutions also offer services online. In addition, banks have also deployed online and mobile payment capabilities, making transactions faster and more affordable, he added.
“This Edtech, Fintech, Meditech and other online or digital services would not be possible in the absence of technology, particularly the internet.”
He however lamented the fact that only 50% of the population enjoys internet coverage in their areas.
“A majority of our population do not have access to the internet or if there are internet services in their areas, the signals are not so strong and connectivity is therefore poor. We thus need to redouble our efforts and work very hard as stakeholders in the ICT sector to make the internet more accessible and secure 100% in all parts of the country,” he added.
Meanwhile, Beatus Amadhila, Powercom Chief Executive, added that the company will erect no less than 500 towers in the next five years to the tune of ±N$600 million.
“With our current five-year strategic plan cycle that started running from 1 October 2021 to 30 September 2026, we are keen to make amends on the previous shortcomings and challenges,” he added.
He said the Veddersdal launch is part of six sites that Powercom started constructing in quarter one of the current financial year.
“We are currently in the process of awarding eleven more sites to the successful bidders to the tune of a combined value of N$14.4 million, and we anticipate construction to commence within the next two to three weeks,” he added.
According to Amadhila, further construction of six more towers is anticipated to be done to the tune of N$7.2million before the end of September. The tender for these six sites is currently running.
By Clifton Movirongo.
The Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) and Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) recently announced a long-term operational partnership focused on better comprehending the current state of knowledge about the illegal wildlife trade (IWT), and the economics of IWT in southern Africa.
The partnership is especially important now as both agencies work to justify the investments being made and ensure that the benefits generated are greater than the costs and that economically viable solutions are being implemented.
The Executive Director at NNF, Angus Middleton, explained that the efforts have been relatively successful, slowing down the rate of poaching of rhinos and elephants, and increasing the number of arrests for activities related to these types of crimes.
However, Middleton added that the investments are being made with little information on the costs of IWT and the benefits being generated by curbing it.
This comes after the foundation revealed that IWT is the world’s fourth-largest illegal transnational activity, generating between US$7 and US$23 billion every year, and poses a major threat to the iconic wildlife species of southern Africa.
“Wildlife crime undermines the economic prosperity of countries and communities in the region, deteriorating their natural capital, social stability and cohesion, and threatening sustainable economic development, including the erosion of benefits derived from legal nature-based enterprises like tourism,” Middleton said.
The partnership continues joint efforts to combat ongoing threats to the wildlife population as it represents an important step in the fight against wildlife crime countrywide.
On the other hand, increasing international demand and depleting wildlife populations in other parts of the world have led to a surge in wildlife poaching, which in turn has led to the loss of high-value species, such as elephants, rhinos, and pangolins, and concern about ecosystem impacts and associated economic losses.
In addition, Middleton confirmed that as a response to this surge in wildlife crime, a diverse range of public and private actors have ramped up efforts to curb IWT, nationally and across borders.
The amalgamation of the critical work was supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) /Southern Africa through its VukaNow Activity. VukaNow also supports novel and innovative approaches to combating wildlife crime, particularly through the use of purpose-built technology and wildlife forensics and oversees a robust grant facility to accelerate specific targeted interventions to address wildlife crime.
With this in mind, NNF and CSF piloted and completed a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) tool in May 2021, to support combating IWT in the country, while considering the new challenges raised by the sudden drop in tourism and increasing poaching risks in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Juliette Perche, an Environmental Economist at NNF explained that the results of this economic study show that considerable investments are being made toward curbing IWT.
“The economic cost of curbing IWT was conservatively estimated at N$2 billion over ten years, with average yearly costs of about N$250 million across government, private sector, and communal conservancies,” she added.
Perche further lamented that the benefits of curbing IWT are ‘significant and critical’ to the country’s economy. She said over the next ten years, the net benefits generated from protecting rhinos and elephants – including all tourism businesses benefiting from the presence of wildlife species – could amount to N$18 billion for the Namibian economy, assuming the current situation remains stable.
On the one hand, the NNF economist argued that if investments in wildlife protection and fighting wildlife crime were to stop, the country could expect economic losses of about N$5.4 billion over ten years. On the other hand, she said if poaching was curbed significantly, economic benefits could increase by more than N$3.7 billion over ten years.”
According to Tania Briceno, an economist at CSF, “The CBA shows that it makes economic sense to invest in curbing illegal wildlife trade. Even though this study included primarily local financial benefits associated with protecting rhino and elephant populations, the results were very clear – benefits greatly outweigh costs.”
The economist continued that in the context of stringent government budget constraints and pressures, it is important to ensure that IWT-curbing initiatives can be sufficiently funded and that there is cooperation among actors to reap the collective benefits of a healthy wildlife population.
“The tool created in this project can forecast economic impacts based on different poaching rates, wildlife population size, tax rates, and prices. Through this project, NNF and CSF hope to raise awareness on the value of fighting IWT, and on the use of economics to fight IWT for better decision-making,” she concluded.
The University of Namibia (UNAM), members of the Windhoek City Police, the UNAM Security team and the Student Representative Council (SRC) recently met to discuss possible measures to improve student safety amid an increase in criminal activities near the campus.
These criminal activities often happen along the Hendrick Witbooi drive and the intersection leading to the university’s secondary gate and the Emona hostel, a route students often use to get to Baines Shopping Centre.
According to the UNAM Security team, robberies started to peak in May, which called for immediate engagement with relevant stakeholders to ensure students’ safety outside of the University premises.
Senior Superintendent at the City of Windhoek Police said that crime prevention is a community effort that requires all stakeholders’ contributions.
“Even though it is the police’s responsibility to keep everyone safe, the police cannot do it alone, we need to form a partnership with students and UNAM to close the gaps that criminals use in this area,” added Muyoba.
Superintendent at the City Police, Cillie Kapolo said forging such partnerships will speed up crime prevention measures and SRC can initiate a student safety programme that the police and UNAM security can support.
“We need to initiate a student against crime committee that will serve as a channel to listen to the safety issues of students and relay information to students about the crime trends in the area,” emphasised Kapolo.
Kapolo said through this platform, they can directly provide the contact details of the commander on shift for students to contact, should they feel endangered. “This will cut down on delays caused by contacting the call centre first,” added Kapolo.
SRC for Internal Affairs, Immanuel Simao committed to taking up initiatives to sensitise students about safety measures on and off-campus. “On behalf of the student council, we are committing that we will play our part in sensitising students and I urge UNAM Security and City Police to ensure their presence is felt, even though crime prevention is a collective effort,” added Simao.
Chairing the engagement was the Head of UNAM Security Services, Alert Mazila said that such commitments lead to improved student safety.
Safety resolutions from the meeting include intense patrol along the Hendrik Witbooi drive, initiating police sunrise operations, de-bushing the area, creating communication groups and a safety campaign.
The Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Utoni Nujoma recently said the assistance from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) will help the country make a tangible impact in employment creation which may bring hope to the youth.
Nujoma said this during the 110th International Labour Conference in Geneva, a statement released by the ministry on Wednesday said.
Nujoma said the support, will orient the nation in the direction of putting employment at the centre of its development.
Namibia’s development has been severely constrained by structural unemployment, however, strategies for socio and economic development with some significant progress, including in the areas of education, social protection and infrastructural development have been implemented, but the area of employment creation continued to be a challenge, he added.
The minister noted that although all-important high statements highlight the need to create employment, a concern remains, as planning to maximize employment is not embedded in most initiatives.
There has been a challenge in overcoming the silos that separate the key Ministries and institutions that need to work together to put employment at the centre of socio-economic development.
Currently, the Ministry of Labour is working with the ILO on the review and revision of the National Employment Policy and its Implementation Plan.
The Minister is hopeful that it will be instrumental if ILO includes Namibia as a pathfinder country in the Global Accelerator Initiative.
The Global Accelerator is an initiative by the United Nations and ILO that aims to help ensure global financing to create jobs and extend social protection to people currently without coverage.
Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) this week announced the commencement of major renovations to eight of its resorts.
“The biggest challenge for NWR has been its ageing infrastructure. Most of our customer complaints were more on our ageing infrastructure,” said NWRManager: Corporate communications, Online Media and MICE, Nelson Ashipala.
According to Ashipala, a N$16 million budget has been set aside for the renovations, while he added.
“Major work will mostly be carried out at Onkoshi and Sossuss Dune Lodge, where decks and roofing types will completely be changed,” he said, adding that some of the resorts still to be refurbished are Onkoshi, Ai-Ais, Waterberg and Hardap Dam Resort.
Ashipala said renovations started this week and are expected to be complete by the end of October this year. Most of the work being done entails, roofing, flooring and tiling, he said.
“The resorts will still be 100% open to the tourists,” he explained, while he asked visitors for patience as most of the resorts will be busy with the renovations.
Ashipala said some of the resorts such as Okaukuejo in the Etosha National Park have already been completed with the renovations.
Meanwhile, the renovation announcement from NWR coincides with the recent announcement by the Qatari government to work closely with the NWR to scale up cooperation in the hospitality sector.
By Audrey Chanakira
Mobile App Developer, Green Enterprise Solutions.
One of the joys of working in IT is seeing the future and knowing that although we may not have embraced it yet in Namibia, it will come. It’s what attracted me to study IT at the tertiary level and has always kept me curious.
Where are we heading, what are the geniuses around the world developing and what can we use it for? Two of these innovative developments, which have been around for much longer than we realize are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
Most of us have heard of these technologies but may not be quite sure what they are. We’ve seen it in movies, and we’ve seen people wearing goggles and falling over in clips on TikTok and Instagram, but what are they really and how will they have real-world applications and implications, not just in Europe and America, but right here in Namibia.
Augmented Reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone. Examples of augmented reality experiences include Snapchat lenses and the exceedingly popular game Pokemon Go. Virtual reality (VR) implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world. Using VR devices such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard, users can be transported into several real-world and imagined environments such as the middle of a squawking penguin colony or even the back of a dragon. This is what we usually see in movies and clips. Social Media apps are the driving force behind these technologies and are an intrinsic part of what the Metaverse is purported to be.
Innovation has taken flight since the pandemic hit and more and more applications are being developed that let people be immersed and or experience products, places, and services without physically being there. Customer engagement is essential for the survival and long-term success of businesses, especially small businesses.
By leveraging AR and VR’s interactive technologies to position products and services businesses can establish relationships that were previously limited by the pandemic. Imagine taking potential tourists on a virtual tour of Namibia, the Sossusvlei, Etosha, and the coast, it will certainly convince them to come and visit.
It is not just businesses that can thrive by implementing AR and VR, education and healthcare will become a whole new immersive and interactive experience. Imagine being able to do museum visits anywhere in the world, from any classroom in Namibia. Science classes can become interactive, imagine being able to visit volcanoes or journey through the human body enhances biology class like never before. It will bring knowledge to life for students, and this is already being done in other parts of the world. We need to make strides to offer this in Namibia as well.
The benefits have not even been explored yet, both AR and VR are still classified as emerging technologies, but it is exciting to see where they may go. Giving Namibians access to healthcare workshops, and interactive engagements with healthcare professionals are just the tip of the iceberg. As a young IT professional, I want to be part of embracing this new technology and ensuring the infrastructure is ready, capable, and accessible to all and for every Namibian. We can harness and utilize this technology for the benefit of our country.