The Institute of Marine Engineering and Maritime studies and the Centre for Mining and Metallurgical Research and Training of the University of Namibia (Unam) were launched in Erongo region last week. Both centres are aimed at supporting research activities for both under- and postgraduate levels as well as providing training that will be conducted by relevant Unam departments.
Delivering the Key-note address, the founding father of the nation Dr Sam Nujoma reiterated that despite all achievements Namibia still lacks some critical skills to propel the sustainable and effective utilization of the country’s natural resources.
“This initiative will help our country build its own human resource capacity in terms of high level skills that are needed to meet the increasing demands for efﬁcient and effective operations of our industries if at all we are to remain competitive. “Both of these projects are about two of the main lifelines of the Namibian economy, contributing enormously to the country’s GDP and socio development of our country,” Nujoma said.
He added that Namibia is a maritime nation with a rich ocean due to the upwelling Benguela current system and similarly the South Atlantic Ocean is an important resource for ﬁsheries, tourism, transport and logistics as well as mining.
The Villager understand that the centres will be established in Walvis Bay and Arandis respectively Unam intends to promote research and development strategies and activities focusing on optimization of operations and services as well as to play an important role in human resource skills development through inservice training and tailor-made courses to address existing skills gaps The Villager learnt. “Although Unam currently provides education and training in the ﬁelds of ﬁsheries and aquatic science at the Sam Nujoma campus at Henties Bay there are no academic programmes related to marine engineering and maritime studies at Unam and in the country,” Nujoma said.
He added that in order to address this big development gap Unam has decided to ﬁll this strategic gap by establishing this institute or school. The Vice Chancellor of Unam, Professor Lazarus Hangula stated that following consultations with the mining industries as well as the sea oriented industries Unam wants to make it crystal clear that it is indeed willing to make it presence felt by the mining and sea oriented industries.
“For Unam to be able to establish these centres it will need some basic resources to be able to plan for that from today going forward. Yes, we are cognizant of the present status of our country’s economy but that should not prevent us from planning and do what we are able to do to change the situation for the better in the time to come,” Hangula said. He added that the town of Arandis has already allocated eight hectares of land to Unam for the mining training reached and also has established a collaborative partnership with Namibia Ports Authority (Namport), and Namibian Maritime and Fisheries Institute
(NAMFI). According to the Chairman of the Confederation of Namibia Fishing Association (CNFA), Matti Amukwa Namibia has ratiﬁed an international convention on maritime crewing standards and Namibian mariners are issued with certiﬁcates according to the convention.
“However these certiﬁcates are not accepted outside Namibia as the country has not fulﬁlled all the requirements of the convention. Only once all requirements are of the convention having been met can Namibian trained seamen broaden their horizons and accept employment internationally,” he said. He further noted that maritime jobs in Namibia may be limited but this should not stop Namibians from creating world class training facilities in the country.
Percy Callum of the Chamber of Mines and Industry and Namibia Uranium Association said that the mining industry continues to be the back bone of the national economy with contributions around 12 percent to GDP, and over 50 percent of the country’s foreign reserves are generated by mining houses. “Mining is a cyclical business mainly due to ﬂuctuating commodity prices, currently the uranium industry found itself in a tight position as a result of the continued depressed uranium market, the chamber of mines will remain supportive of any initiative to upgrade the skills of out Namibian workforce at national and local levels,” he said. He added that such initiatives should be in the form of a tri- partite relationship between the government, tertiary institutions and mining houses.