Revised investment law withdrawn

By Hilary Mare

A revised Namibia Investment Promotion Act of 2016, which was in its legal drafting stage and meant to mobilise and attract domestic and foreign investment for the country’s economic development, has now been withdrawn to accommodate changes in the structure of government announced by President Hage Geingob earlier this year.

This was confirmed by Minister of Industrialisation and Trade, Lucia Iipumbu last week who stated that since the investment promotion aspect of her ministry was being elevated to the Office of the President under a new agency, these changes meant the law needed to be reworked.

“We have withdrawn this bill to accommodate changes announced by President Hage Geingob and also accommodate the input from the private sector,” Iipumbu said.

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The process of reworking this bill will be completed by September this year after which it will be re-tabled in Parliament, Confidente understands.

Announcing the new structure of government in March, Geingob said the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, which previously also had an SME arm, will promote economic development by setting and implementing the Industrial Policy to boost domestic productive capacities and diversification.

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However, he added that the SME development mandate formerly housed in this Ministry will be elevated to the Presidency through the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board.

This Investment Promotion and Development Board is currently being set up and is yet to be operational.

The law was first enacted in 2016 as the Namibian Investment Promotion Act (NIPA) of 2016 (Act No.

9 of 2016) to provide for the promotion of sustainable economic development and growth through the mobilisation and attraction of foreign and domestic investment to enhance economic development, reduce unemployment, accelerate growth and diversify the economy.

The Act was also meant to provide for reservation of certain economic sectors and business activities to certain categories of investors, to provide for dispute resolution mechanisms involving investment and provide for incidental matters.

Despite losing the investment promotion component to the envisaged new board, Iipumbu said that her ministry remains committed to developing a competitive industrial sector.

“We know that our ministry will continue to develop industrial infrastructure.

We look to live up to our expectations to industrialise by the year 2030. We also have a Growth at Home strategy that shows promise.

For example, in the cosmetic industry, the local industry has proven that they can manufacture hand sanitisers and we will soon realise that we don’t need to import these.

“On the other hand, we also need to diversify and inject capital in the biomass and charcoal sector which actually forms part of our Growth at Home strategy. The charcoal industry employs about 10 000 employees currently and it has been proven that it can grow further if given the necessary support,” Iipumbu said.