Can fishing industry do more for sport development?

Ndeulipula Hamutumwa

THE fishing sector is one of the key sectors identified by the Government to accelerate poverty eradication and reduce income inequality, as well as improve the living conditions of all Namibians. After Independence, the Namibian government introduced a “Namibianization Policy” in the fishing industry as per the White Paper and the Marine Resource Act of 2000, aimed at empowering previously disadvantaged Namibian.

The Namibia Fishing industry has an annual Total Available Catch (TAC) estimated to be around 550 000 metric tons with a value of N$ 10 billion. The industry contributes an average of 3.5 percent to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product. The fishing industry currently employs around 16 300 Namibians. The country exports more than 90% of its fisheries’ production in various product forms, primarily to international markets. The Namibian government has enlisted the creation of sustainable employment in the fishing sector under the Fifth National Development Programme (NDP5).

While addressing the industry in 2016, Bernard Esau was at pain when he stated that “I am not happy with the contributions made by the fishing rights holders compared to the millions of dollars they received in dividends”. He went on to say “a total of N$ 48 million was contributed during 2015 towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) by fishing right holders, which average N$ 160 000 for each of the 300 holders of fishing rights”. Whilst agreeing with Esau, the contribution is insignificant to say the least.

The above sentiments expressed by Esau exposed a gloomy picture that the CSR by the right-holders are drops in the Atlantic Ocean when one compares it to the value of the industry as a whole.

Consequently, three years later, there are debates whether the fishing industry is doing enough in the area of Corporate Social Investment (CSI). This inherent observation amongst others have triggered the Ministry of Fishery and Marine Resources to develop a score-card aimed at evaluating the social-economic contribution of right-holders to the nation as a whole.

The coastal town of Walvisbay has been a haven of sport participation through premier football giants such as Blue Water and Eleven arrows respectively. These clubs are hailed as contributors to the liberation struggle of the country. It is during the apex of the struggle that coaches and players would assemble during practice sessions of these clubs to strategize and mobilize each other politically. This practice was common across the country.

These clubs have featured and participated regularly in the Premier League since its formation in 1985.  Despite the above achievements, these clubs do not benefit from any fishing company at all and receive no sponsorship whatsoever and rely solely on monthly grants from the Namibian Premier League (NPL) through the sponsorship of MTC towards the NPL. 

The fishing sector has a social obligation to establish a Sport Empowerment Fund aimed to support sport development of clubs, teams and athletes. This Fund should benefit the entire sport fraternity.  The fishing sector can draw wisdom and valuable lessons from countries such as Botswana, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo who have utilized their natural resources to benefit their respective teams and athletes. The envisaged empowerment fund can greatly subsidize teams and athletes in the coastal towns. In return, clubs would provide decent employment to the athletes and fridge benefits such as medical aid, pension and travel insurance.

The fishing sector should urgently partner with sport to create jobs and self –sustainable initiatives amongst the youth. This natural marriage of the two sectors will assist government to fight poverty, reduce income inequality and inspire the weak and venerable youth in coastal towns and Namibia as a whole.