Chinese cream N$4b off Nam in a year

About 50 Chinese businesses operating in Namibia have creamed off about N$4 billion in the last financial year, although the host country is struggling to up its imports to the Asian nation, The Villager understands. 

Despite these impressive figures, there has not been balance in reciprocal trade as the Chinese seem to be enjoying the lion’s share of the trade relations. 

Chinese Ambassador to Namibia Xin Shunkang told a gathering of his country’s business people at the Windhoek Country Club and Resort to embrace the trading of the Yuan in the country as a step in the right direction. 

He added that relations between the two countries have been cemented over the past few years, with China building interests in the construction, mining and retail sectors. 

“Former President Dr Hifikepunye Pohamba and current President Dr Hage Geingob have in the past had an opportunity to visit the mining sites being run by Chinese business people in the country. 

“Our statistics now show that there about 50 large corporates operating in Namibia, employing over 6 000 Namibians, and also imparting knowledge and expertise to the economy,” Shunkang noted. 

His sentiments come at a time that the Chinese have been deliberately pushing for the expansion of their footprint in Africa in the mining, retail and construction sectors. 

In Namibia, the Chinese cream off the bulk of the public procurement tenders in roads’ construction and the construction of most public buildings. 

The diplomat added that China is eager to continue cementing relations with Namibia on bilateral and trade forums. 

Namibia is one of the countries exporting beef to the vast Chinese markets, courtesy of prolonged negotiations steered by the Government and the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) in the past few years. 

Shunkang added that as part of the two countries cementing their relations, the Asian powerhouse has since invited a delegation led by the Chairperson of the National Council, Asser Kapere to go to China to explore business opportunities which can be exploited by Namibian businesses in that country. 

In the past, concerns have been raised about skewed trade engagements between Namibia and China, with many locals feeling that the Chinese are doing very little to transfer skills and opportunities to Namibians. Shunkang, however, feels that there is a need for the two countries to build on a win-win engagement which will also allow for the growth of the Namibian economy. 

Amongst the major projects which China engaged in here is the expansion of the Walvis Bay port and investments in the Husab uranium mine, which is amongst the largest uranium mines in the world. 

The Husab mine project is also viewed as one of the largest-single investments by any country in Namibia since independence. 

The China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which won the tender to construct the container terminal at the port, was quoted in other media as saying that the project can be completed by 2017. 

The N$3 billion contract is set to extend the harbour by 600 metres to the current 1,500 metres so as to allow the terminal to be able to handle 650,000 tons per year, just about double from the current 350,000 tons per year. 

Mutually, the CHEC and NamPort officials are confident that the port expansion would be completed within the scheduled time. 

As part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s Regional Indicative Development Plan to integrate the region, the port expansion is meant to improve services until 2020 when further extensions can be made. 

Namibia’s major exports to China include beef, fish and horticultural products while the Chinese ship skills, clothing wear, consumables and machinery into Namibia. 

According to Shunkang, the introduction of the Yuan on the trading market in Namibia will go a long way in boosting business between the two countries. 

He added that it will also create convenience for Chinese businesses trading in the country when they plan their travels. 

As the bulk of the billion-dollar projects in Namibia are mostly taken by Asian-related companies, South African companies and Italian companies, The Villager reported earlier on that foreign companies creamed off more than N$3 billion from the country’s public procurement system through joint venture bids with locals, and individual bids for national projects. 

This was according to statistics availed by the Ministry of Finance’s Permanent Secretary and chairperson of the Tender Board Ericah Shafudah, which showed that in the 2013/2014 budget year, foreign entities creamed off N$32 885 910.75 on annual tenders, while foreigners creamed off N$43 152 877. 09 from 10 formal tenders in the same book year. 

The statistics also show that multinational conglomerates in partnership with local firms made a staggering N$3 857 612 687. 61.