Alweendo denies promoting foreign investors above Namibians

Martin Endjala

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo, on Tuesday denounced the notion that he is promoting foreign investors above Namibians.

He said this during a meeting with the Namibia Local Business Association (NALOBA).

“I am not promoting foreign investors above Namibians, as this is the notion being spread around. What I am saying is that as Namibians, we need to compete amongst each other and not against the likes of Shell or TotalEnergy so that we develop the businesses to take over the industry. The notion that I do not want Namibians to participate is totally wrong. I understand this is a new industry, but we need to prepare ourselves,” said the minister.

Alweendo’s clarification comes after he remarked during the energy conference on oil and gas, held in Windhoek last month, that Namibians should not feel entitled to the resources just because they are Namibians.

This saw many prominent names and associations speaking out against the ministers, with the latest being NALOBA, who submitted their grievances to the ministry.

Regarding logistics, Alweendo elaborated that if Namibians continue to say they are Namibian citizens, they will automatically get it without doing anything to prepare themselves to provide the service.

He warned that Namibians may miss out on this opportunity, as other people who are ready to provide such services will do so.

“So what I was saying is that we need to follow this discussion and ask questions so that when the time comes to team up with national companies, you also have something to offer if you don’t have anything to offer. International companies are quite happy to team up with national companies that they do not understand, and they will pay you money, which, of course, may make you rich, but you are not learning the business; you will then become the business person to take over from the foreign company,” he explained.

Alweendo urged businesses to remain transparent and adhere to the oil and gas sector in order to prevent foreign companies from exploiting inactive locals.

NALOBA’s vice president, Peter Amadhila, said the economic roadblocks faced by Namibia must be amicably resolved to allow for equitable distribution of natural resources to ensure all Namibians benefit as per their constitutional right to be entitled to the resources of the county.

“Natural resources belong to Namibians, and every Namibian is entitled to them, tapped or untapped, exploited or unexploited. Nambians come first, and international investors are welcome to come and enhance Namibians’ hands to exploit the resources while transferring skills and necessary knowledge,” argued Amadhila.

He stressed that value addition must be mandatory for all natural resources.

Amadhila asserted that the minister’s remarks at the energy conference caused embarrassment to numerous Namibians, given the minister’s responsibility to safeguard their interests.

In terms of its resources, Amadhila criticized the 10% offered to Namibia, labelling it an insult not only to the government but to the entire nation.

He believes that the government should devise a better formula to enable it to acquire 50% of all its natural resources. He said NALOBA is ready to assist in negotiating a win-win agreement.

Meanwhile, the Kadhila Amoomo Legal Practitioner, Lawyer Kadhila Amoomo, said words matter, adding that perhaps some words are better not said at all.

Amoomo said that blaming the media for selecting certain portions within the ministry’s speech does not alleviate the fact that such a ministry made such remarks.

He explained that the media must inform Namibians, particularly on matters they are not aware of, and bring them to light.

“The mines and energy ministry of late appears not to be friendly to Namibians but only to investors and foreigners; even when you google, the only stories you find are those written by the media.

So do not blame associations like NALOBA for getting the impression that you are only looking out for the interests of investors when such statements are made,” argued Amoomo, who is also a member of NALOBA.

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