By:Hertha Ekandjo, Nguriye Katusuva
Namibia should look for investors that will set up manufacturing bases to allow for production of its natural resources and minerals from raw materials to finished goods.
This was the view of economist and former interim Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (Amta) Managing Director Solomon Hei on the Residence by Investment Programme being touted by the Namibia Investment and Promotion Board (NIPDB).
On Tuesday, the NIPDB announced that it was in the process of crafting a concept for a Namibian Resident-by-Investment (RBI) framework called the Desert Visa Programme, which covers various categories of investment and proposes certain conditions for each category.
As most countries are competing for investments, and with countries trying different methods to attract investors, Hei argues that Namibia should learn from countries who went the same road on how to attract investors.
“The country’s bulk of investors for the past years have mostly come from mining and exploration. So this new Resident-by-investment programme should be defined on how it will bring value and development.”
Hei further said that the country should have a standing point on which it displays its criteria RBI programme, knowing that Namibia is a pre-industrialised economy with a small production capacity.
“Therefore looking for investors that will exploit the country’s wealth will be a failure with the current unemployment rate in the country,” Hei said.
He further stated that the country needs investors that have an appetite for the long term and that can build up industries to absorb the unemployment rate in the country, in sectors like agriculture, manufacturing where there is mining of minerals.
NIPDB says that among the various categories conceptualised under the RBI framework, will be through real estate investments.
“The NIPDB is currently working closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security (MHAISS) to ensure that all aspects and potential gaps in the programme are well considered, and that the criteria for the approvals for real estate developments qualifying for RBI are well set out before submitting the same to Cabinet for approval,” said Nangula Uaandja, NIPDB CEO.
This activity, which has an underlying objective of raising N$50 billion in investments during the Harambee Prosperity Plan 11 (HPPII) period, was due for implementation during the second quarter of the 2021/2022 financial year, she said.
RBI has been on the rise in Africa of late. Recently, Henley & Partners, an investment migration consultancy based in London unveiled a RBI in Namibia to attract foreign investment and boost the country’s economic growth.
Their programme requires foreigners seeking Namibian residency to buy real estate valued at least $316,000 (N$5.7 million) at President’s Links Estate at the coast.
While South Africa’s programme, the Financial Independent Permit (permanent residence), allows the wealthy to work, study, or manage their own business in the country and requires a minimum net worth of $820,000.
Economist Josef Kefas Sheehama welcomed the RBI as a perfect programme to boost employment in the country at a very fast pace.
According to him, agricultural and IT investors would be the best to bring in because the country needs a boost in the agriculture sector.
“People who would invest in technology are really needed because it would help the country grow economically. Everything has a positive and negative side. But the focus should be on the positive side of the RBI. What NIPDB is considering is something good,” he said.
Sheehama said foreign investors come with skills and experience that can be transferred to locals.