Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) Chairperson Tania Hangula has visited the northern regions of Omusati and Oshana to assess the Bank's impact and familiarise herself with projects that the Bank is financing. She will then proceed to Erongo to familiarise herself with projects in that region.
Talking about her visits, Hangula said that the regions were singled out for their high potential to contribute to Namibian development in terms of their demographics. She noted that there was a requirement in both regions for infrastructural development, as well as construction. She added that the Bank is also seeking opportunities to provide finance, particularly in three key sectors identified by the Fourth National Development Plan: manufacturing, transport and logistics, and tourism.
Hangula added that the Bank also hopes to make impacts in priority development fields of water security, electricity generation and provision of serviced land.
She said that finance provided by the Bank in Omusati and Oshana was not an indication of the potential of the regions, and encouraged enterprises, state-owned enterprises, local and regional councils to approach the Bank. Hangula added that the Bank's finance is favourably geared to enabling projects with a beneficial development impact.
On the topic of Erongo, Hangula said that the region is in many ways a model for other regions across Namibia. She said that although the region possesses sea ports, long borders with neighbouring countries and multiple access points indicate the potential exists for greater levels of trade. She went on to say that primary sector mineral wealth in many regions could stimulate secondary and tertiary activity, as it had in Erongo.
Hangula also encouraged entrepreneurs to consider opportunities for intra-regional trade with other Namibian regions. There is ample opportunity for stimulation of economic activity within the borders of Namibia. In this regard she pointed to the impact of economic activity in Erongo on regions such as Khomas and Kunene. The Bank would like to see the same model emerge between regions such as Omusati and Oshana.
She described Erongo as a powerhouse in the Namibian economy, and said that DBN will continue to stimulate the region, in light of its contribution to the region. Her visit to Erongo, she said, is intended to cement relationships between the Bank and key enterprises and regional and local authorities, and identify new areas where DBN finance can have a beneficial impact.
On the topic of regional demand for finance, Hangula said that demand was greatest in Khomas and Erongo. She said that high demand in Erongo and Khomas is expected to persist, but that the Bank is currently seeking opportunities to stimulate all regions with finance offerings. The Bank, however, depends on demand for finance, so in order to foster inclusive regional participation, Hangula concluded by urging entrepreneurs and infrastructure project initiators to approach the Bank with applications for finance.
Hangula was appointed as Chairperson of the Bank's Board by Minister of Finance, Hon. Calle Schlettwein, with effect from 1 January 2016. She the Executive Director of Arandis Mining and Managing Member of Umoja Trading, which has interests in the petroleum industry and other Namibian business sectors.
In the current circumstance of the pressing need for water security, the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) is stepping up to the plate to assist with finance for feasible projects that work towards water security, says CEO Martin Inkumbi.
The Bank, Inkumbi says, has the necessary experience to provide finance geared to water provision. In this regard, he cites projects financed by DBN, such as Aqua Utilities which semi-purifies water for industrial purposes in Walvis Bay, as well as finance for water reticulation for various local authorities and private developers as part and parcel of finance for serviced land.
Given feasibility and financial viability, the Bank will prioritise finance for water infrastructure. He goes on to say that the Bank is aware that finance will be a barrier to planning, so an indication of availability of finance can be a means to speed up the planning and early implementation of water infrastructure and water delivery services.
Talking about project timelines, Inkumbi notes that although the Bank will seek to contribute finance for short-term alleviation of needs, the Bank is also aware that drought is a recurring phenomenon, and will look favourably on medium to long-term solutions, that ensure long-term water supply.
Local authorities critical
Concerning the scope of finance, Inkumbi says that the immediate focus of the Bank will be local authorities, as these are the key providers of water to households and enterprises. He says that the Bank believes that rehabilitation of aging water infrastructure, as well as provision of new infrastructure to distribute water in a more efficient manner, are areas with a high potential to generate water savings.
He goes on to say that the Bank will also consider finance for better administration of water. By improving payment and administration systems for water, more funds can be released through local authorities to further develop the supply of water on a national level.
In terms of practical implementation, Inkumbi says the Bank has a strong body of experience in assessing public-private partnerships (PPPs), and the Bank's assessment of an application for finance will be a strong indicator of the feasibility of the project.
Finance for enterprise initiatives
On the topic of enterprise water-consumption and efficiency, Inkumbi states that this is a concern to the Bank. He points out that a loss of capacity due to water cuts, either in the form of a shutdown of production or a slowdown, immediately affects the viability of the enterprise, creates a drag on growth and will impact economic development and employment.
He says that enterprises with plans to implement new water efficient technology or rehabilitate existing technology should contact the Bank concerning finance. In light of the cost of loss of productivity, he says enterprises should view this form of plan as a means to sustain themselves, not just immediately, but also in future.
Although there is an immediate need for water efficiency, Inkumbi stresses that feasibility and financial viability of water delivery are crucial. We should not risk immediate solutions that are not sustainable in the long-term, or that remove water from the local authority system, as is the case with grey water, which has to be reclaimed for purification, he points out.
He says the Bank will filter applications through its environmental and social management system (ESMS) to ensure that potentially harmful impacts are mitigated, and that the regulations of local authorities concerning water are adhered to.
He also encourages engineers and project managers to approach the Bank to familiarise themselves with the Bank's ESMS.
Finance for bulk water
On the topic of finance for national projects, Inkumbi says due to the size of the requirement, this will be a challenge for the pool of Namibian financial resources. He notes that current projections will place strain on any single source of finance, so syndicate finance will be required.
In conclusion, Inkumbi reiterates that the Bank will open the financing tap for feasible projects. He says that in the past, the Bank has responded rapidly and effectively to emerging issues, and that the Bank will do so to improve water security as well.
Elize Angula steps down as DBN Chairperson Penny Akwenye appointed new DBN Chairperson Asnake Getachew steps down, replaced by Tabitha Mbome of NSA.