The Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN) does not have any mechanism in place to monitor development or growth targets in different municipalities although they are charged with that role Acting President, Leonard Jona said this week ALAN as a body representing local authorities is charged promoting and encouraging the study of Local Authorities for the benefit of its members and the Central Government.
Information on the growth of local authorities is vital for influencing investor confidence.
“Yes it is up to ALAN, it is our responsibility to put measures in place but we are still in the process of identifying right methods to detect the fast growth of towns/villages to ensure development is taking place”, Jona said.
He added the only system used to establish growth of local authorities is by monitoring the influx of people to a town as well as assessing the town’s history and its infrastructure, “I am also not aware of any research that was conducted in this regard. In the absence of those instruments I will not be able to assist you as I have no information”, Jona emphasised.
According to ALAN there are a number of factors that may contribute to the fast growth of towns in Namibia these differing from town to town, however one identified is leadership stability. The local authority leadership, elected leaders and appointed officials as well as chief executive officers. “The leadership stability and town economic development are deeply interconnected. The relationship between town economic growth and stability refers to the manner in which the leadership stability of a local authority can lead to its economic growth resulting in fast growing towns”, Jona said. He added that when there are infighting in most cases amongst councillors and chief executive officers, this causes instability and repels negatively on the town’s reputation and growth.
“No company or individual will feel comfortable making any kind of capital investment in any local authority where the leadership climate is characterized by upheavals and a lot of uncertainty”, he said. Small towns have been able to experience residential and industrial growth in western and southern Namibia, because of the increased activities in construction as well as mining, one such is Arandis. According to Arandis Town Council Chief Executive Officer, Florida Husselmann the town currently has one shopping complex, hosting U-save, pep stores, First National Bank, Style and more. It also just completed a Woermann & Brock shopping Centre that is yet to be officially opened. This growth has been due to the booming mining activities in the town, with more residential homes being set up to the tune of N$18 million. The town has also constructed bungalows at the swimming pool for N$500 000.
“Various developments have been approved by council, such as gas production, tourism and travel centre, dust mask factory, warehousing facilities to mention a few and this will indeed have a significant impact on the economy of the town. Council will also be constructing an emergency medical rescue centre during the course of the year to reduce the response time to accidents and to make the B2 a safe road for travellers”, Husselmann said.
The town is however still facing challenges with availing some state services to residents as they still have to go to neighbouring town Swakopmund to apply for Identification, apply for business registrations, applying for vehicle licensing. The lack of such services has been experienced in other smaller towns in Namibia who are still facing challenges regarding providing basic services. These challenges spread from the lack of super markets or fully functional service stations, or the availability of proper health care. According to local authority audits carried out the by Office of the Auditor General, these challenges have been some of the contributing factors to the loss of skills and the working class to the city.