ITALY became the first team to reach the knockout stage of Euro 2020 as midfielder Manuel Locatelli scored twice in a 3-0 win over Switzerland in Rome on Wednesday, while Wales moved to the brink of joining them by beating Turkey.
NAMIBIA imports clothes worth N$2 billion per year, mostly from neighbouring South Africa.
This figure is almost 4% of the national budget and presents questions whether the historical ties between Namibia and South Africa still determine trading patterns, or whether Namibians are just comfortable importing.
South Africa does not only clothe Namibia, but it feeds the nation too.
The N$2 billion is mainly spent in South African retail outlets in the country.
There are, however, plans to change this, though moving at snail's pace due to budgetary constraints, Lucia Iipumbu, minister of trade and industrialisation, has said.
According to the Namibia Statistics Agency Namibians spent N$1,9 billion in 2019 and N$1,6 billion on clothing last year.
Included in these imports are standardised school and nurses' uniforms only produced in South Africa.
This raises the question whether the country has the capacity to produce and add value to garments for their own consumption or whether there is no policy to encourage local production.
In 2013 Cabinet decided to put an embargo on, and to phase out the importation of public school and nurses' uniforms.
However, the decision could not be implemented because the country lacked capacity.
Iipumbu told the National Assembly in March this year that they did not perform a capacity audit in terms of infrastructure availability in the country.
“After the Cabinet directive in 2013, we realised the need to first enhance our productive capabilities,” she said.
The ministry carried out an extensive mission in 2018-19 to assess the capacity and the development of the capacity to produce school uniforms and other garments.
She, however, told the National Assembly that she was happy the country was gaining capacity to produce its school uniforms and other garments.
“We have indeed ascertained that there is capacity in all regions of our country,” said Iipumbu, adding that the ministry had employed a two-pronged strategy: to utilise the equipment aid scheme to empower at least 2 000 Namibians with requisite tailoring and sewing machinery, and to construct garment manufacturing centres across the country.
She said the years, especially from 2015 to now have been harsh to the ministry's budgetary needs – with their budget barely going above N$200 million.
She said the ministry had completed a garment factory in Windhoek (where Dinapama Manufacturing is operating from) and a tender to procure industrial sewing machines had been awarded.
She said the contractor to upgrade the Nkurenkuru facility will be chosen early next month and is expected to be finished by the end of September 2021.
“The ministry believes that enough soft and hard infrastructure capabilities are now developed and is on course to actually launch the School Uniform Project in the next few months at Nkurenkuru,” said Iipumbu.
She added that from the 2 000-long list of equipment aid beneficiaries, the ministry had identified at least 54 MSMEs across the country who were instrumental in the production of 430 000 masks during the lockdown last year.
Iipumbu said this revealed that productive capabilities in terms of soft infrastructure is nearly complete.
“We will now have to ensure that the requisite standards are adopted to drive the uniform project,” she said.
Iipumbu added that the production of the masks had derailed the launch of the school uniform programme but the ministry is now ready to launch the project.
The ministry will thereafter seek Cabinet approval for the requisite framework for an import phasing out strategy based on the experiences to be gathered from the school uniform project.
The framework will be drafted within the relevant local and regional trading arrangements, said Iipumbu.
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