The Namibian government has inaugurated a school uniform manufacturing project at the Nkurenkuru town in Kavango West region to cut on the country’s heavy reliance on school uniform imports.
The country imports 90% of school uniforms and sportswear sold in local retail stores mainly from South Africa, India and China.
Speaking at the inauguration of the project last week, vice president Nangolo Mbumba explained that the school uniform project is part of the government’s efforts to maximise the country’s productive capacity and capability in the textile and clothing manufacturing sector.
“The textile and clothing manufacturing sector in Namibia is at times regarded as a non- traditional sector within our economic settings. This is because of historically dominant sectors such as mining, fishery and agriculture which combined account for about 40% of GDP and the high number of employees in these sectors,” Mbumba said.
“However, over the years our government has been making efforts in addressing unemployment by identifying, promoting and investing in labour-intensive sectors, the clothing and garment industry has been identified as one of the sectors with the potential to employ more people especially women and youth. This is because the sector offers entry-level jobs for low or unskilled workers, the sector also has low investment costs in acquiring modern production technologies compared to other sectors,” the vice president said.
Namibian clothing manufacturers have been facing numerous technical and financial challenges.
To tackle the myriad technical and financial obstacles that Namibian tailors face, the vice president said government, through the then ministry of trade and industry, introduced the Equipment Aid Scheme to equip at least 2000 Namibians with the necessary sewing and tailoring equipment.
“To put the necessary physical infrastructure in place, it was also necessary to mainstream the development of garment manufacturing centres around the nation,” he said.
Mbumba said the cabinet instructed the then ministries of education and culture and that of trade and industry that school uniforms be sourced locally, and that importation of such uniforms be phased out in order to pave the way for locally manufactured school uniforms for public schools.
“Although the ministry has been heavily constrained by fiscal constraints, some notable progress has been observed. It is noteworthy that the ministry completed garment factories in Windhoek, Ovitoto and recently in Outapi and today we are in Nkurenkuru,“ he said.
The ministry of industrialisation, trade and SME development revamped its small and medium enterprises park at Nkuremkuru to accommodate the manufacturing project.
“Recent developments actually point to a positive trajectory on the matter. Utilising the 2000 list of equipment aid beneficiaries, this was narrowed to at least 54 SMEs across the country. These 54 SMEs were instrumental in supporting the production of 430,000 masks in 2020/21 during the COVID-19 lockdown phases,” he stated.
At the same event, the minister of industrialisation, trade and SME development, Lucia Iipumbu said the project is a contribution to the realisation of the country’s growth at home strategy.
Ipumbu said government is doing all that is necessary “to ensure that there is indeed growth at home to prosper our nation’s economic landscape and our point of departure is really to ensure that Namibian entrepreneurial capacity is enhanced to have market access both locally and internationally.”
She urged manufacturers to adhere to standards.
The ministerstressed that investing in local factories is more critical especially given the lessons learned during the pandemic and the current price escalations of basic commodities due to the geopolitical events of wars between Russia and Ukraine.
“Let us, therefore, commit to supporting all our local productive initiatives which will lead to the enhancement of supply chains and local productive capacity,” she added.
She said it helps Namibian businesses, especially micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)to have suitable facilities to produce their products and services with the ultimate goal of having them in the local retail shops.
She also indicated that it will require a great deal from Namibians to support local MSMEs by by buying Namibian products.
“Our point of departure is really to ensure that Namibian entrepreneurial productive capacity is enhanced to have market access both locally and internationally with the hope that at some point we become self-reliance in some areas,” Ipumbu added.
Also speaking at the occasion was Kavango West Governor Sirkka Ausiku.
“The launch of the school uniforms manufacturing project is also a good initiative because it is responding to our developmental agenda of the region, Cde VP our region has identified agriculture, manufacturing and tourism as sectors that can help us to develop our region and create needed employment,” Ausiku said.
At the same event, the ministry also opened its Kavango West regional office in the town to bring services closer to the residents of the region.Email: email@example.com