By: Justicia Shipena
Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR) managing director Matthias Ngwangwama says the state-owned entity had given public-private partnerships (PPPs) to some of its resorts, such as miles 108 and 72, which ended up as a disaster.
He said this in an interview with Eagle FM on Tuesday’s first episode of The-C Suite.
Ngwangwama said coming up with a workable PPP is one thing Namibia has gotten wrong.
“I think the problem with PPPs is how to get a workable formula to implement it thoroughly, and we experienced it here. Some facilities have been given to PPPs; in fact, the one I am talking about is miles 108, 72 and jakkels pits under NWR PPPs, but a year later, we had to take them back because that PPPs was a disaster,” he said.
He stressed that he disagrees when people say PPPs are the answer.
“I disagree because you have to come up with a workable PPP. That is the answer,” he stamped.
Ngwangwama further argued that PPPs are not just an opportunity to make quick money but rather a chance to utilise those assets to bring value to the nation.
He also stated that NWR does not fully have the capital to upgrade its cost line.
Ngwangwama was speaking in terms of the renovations and upgrading of NWR resorts country-wide.
“It is not a secret that since the establishment of NWR never recorded a profit until 2019. In the history of NWR, no profit until 2019. It means things like renovations are a function of cash flow,” he adds.
NWR was created through an Act of Parliament, the Namibia Wildlife Resorts Company Act, and has existed since 1998.
In this vein, he blamed the loss-making of NWR on the lack of renovations at its resorts.
“I have to admit, from the context we are coming from, because of the issue of loss-making, you will not have a reserve that a private sector probably generates to be able to re-invest in the renovations of resorts,” said Ngwangwama.
On Covid-19 recovery, he said that during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the revenue of the state-owned entity was generated through Namibians.
During these lockdowns, the movement was restricted, affecting the inflow of tourists from international markets.
“We were in the market with lots of specials, discounts and Namibian specials, which helped us. The Namibian public was really responsive. We solely got our revenue from the Namibian public because the international was a problem, so that really helped us,” he said.
He said some partners in the tourism industry had slashed NWR, deciding to implement discounts and specials.
“Some said it is a waste of time if you discount go to that level you are making a loss don’t go there, but we went through that, and it added to us generating some revenue which kept the company going,” he stated.
Before the pandemic, NWR reduced its losses from N$171m in 2020 to N$97m in 2021, which is 44 per cent or N$77 million.
Ngwangwama further expressed that the packages of ‘My Friends Are Cooler Than Yours’ increased the occupancy rate at NWR resorts.
“It was lockdown, Covid-19, but it was still full.”
In July, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta announced a 37.3 increase in Namibia tourism arrivals in 2021 compared to 2020.
The Tourism Arrival Statistics Report said foreign arrivals into Namibia increased by 40.9 per cent, from 192,026 arrivals in 2020 to 270,644 arrivals in 2021. On the other hand, tourist arrivals had a substantial growth of 37.3 per cent, from 169,565 in 2020 to 232,756 in 2021.
The report said Namibia was likely to reach a million tourist arrivals or close to in 2022.