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News Blog

A collection of longer form stories, submitted, sourced, or written by our team, that would not make sense to cover in a traditional broadcast news format, but which we wanted to share with you anyway.

(please note that views and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of Radiowave).

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Iono - Behind the Bulletins

Aroab a beacon of hope

By Patience Smith


AROAB, 03 OCT (NAMPA) – Aroab, a village of about 5 000 residents, is viewed by many as an example of good governance in the //Kharas Region and beyond.
In 2013, the Aroab Village Council (AVC) received a clean audit report and is said to have one of the best administrative staff in the country.


During a visit there last week, Nampa discovered there are no shacks in this tidy town. The village also boasts a sparkling medium-sized swimming pool that is in use for six months per year.


It further emerged during a sit-down with AVC Chief Executive Officer Elsa Laubscher, that all 500 households are connected to the village’s sewer, water and electrical network.


That means all residents have running water, toilets and electricity at their brick homes. A number of the houses were built under the Build Together Programme and allocated to people who previously resided in shacks. 


Though unemployment is high and the village finds it difficult to collect the necessary revenue for services from residents – as is the case in most of the country – the AVC has managed to implement development projects and remain well within its operational budget. 


Laubscher said it only makes sense to pay creditors and bulk suppliers first. 


“You can only spend what you have. Other village councils say they want to come here for best practices from us, but the truth is that we can all learn from each other,” she said.


Laubscher said the secret to the village’s success is that it has good administration in place. “We are lucky, the administrative officers here at the council know what they are doing and the staff also has good working relations with the councillors.”


Laubscher, once reportedly referred to by former Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing Jerry Ekandjo as “the country’s most sought-after CEO” has been at the helm of the village administration for the last 10 years.


The council is made up of two Swapo Party councillors, two DTA of Namibia councillors and one Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) councillor.


Recently, the village received the 2015 Best Rural Award in the Centres of Excellence in Local Government (COE) category out of 36 councils from Gender Links Namibia. It was also honoured with the Good Governance Award at the Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN) Congress in June. 


According to Laubscher, the local authority tries to implement programmes with commitment to achieving gender equality. 


The AVC derives additional income from accommodation facilities it set up, a brick-making project, sheep farming and a vegetable garden to help sustain the village financially.


Although a few residents Nampa spoke to referred to the AVC as “the richest village council with no heart for the community and no job creation” Laubscher said the authority tried by all means to employ locals in council projects.


“In the past we have encountered problems through employing local people but the council believes in the philosophy of creating local jobs wherever possible to help ease poverty in our village.


“And because unemployment is high here, we try by all means to negotiate with the community on payments for services. We’ve taken the route of leniency and always encourage them to make realistic arrangements before resorting to cutting off supplies.”


The village council receives an annual Government subsidy of around N.dollars 800 000 for its operations and N.dollars 1 500 000 for capital projects.


At the moment, the AVC is busy with a National Planning Commission-funded upgrade of an existing road to a 2,5 kilometre tar road and is engaging with a South African-based private company that wishes to establish a large mall at the village.


Aroab is nearly 170 kilometres southeast of Keetmanshoop and 40 kilometres away from the South African border.


The next project at the village will be a N.dollars 7 million extension project of the sewerage ponds, Laubscher said.


One of the future plans of the council is to build a lodge for further income and local job opportunities, and to bring Aroab village closer to being declared a town.


The 61-year-old Laubscher’s contract with the village expires next February, but she hopes to get a renewal. The former accountant of the AVC said an extension would help her and incumbent staff to complete a few more projects, and to leave council affairs in a sound state.

College Of The Arts Project Week

The Department of Visual Art at the College of the Arts, situated at the Katutura Community Art Centre, organized a project week for the first time this year. 

Lecturers and Students combined their talents to do a range of projects in the community from the 2nd to the 8th of August. 

The projects included two murals, two public sculptures, a wall mosaic, a pizza-box exhibition, a welding project and jewelry.

Mosaic mural by Kim Modise and his students at the Katatura Community Art Centre

A sculpture of an Eland made with metal and plastic cooldrink bottles

Range of craft jewellery produced by Robert Hidishange and his students

At the NAPPA youth clinic - Murals by Nicky Marais and her students

At the Theatre School Ceramics Studio - Innovative ceramic moulds by John Nampala and his students

An example of Pizza Box Art with a social message at the Pizzeria at Hidas Centre a Pizza Box exhibition by Darina Zheynova and her students

 

Brace for more rate hikes to come

By Suta Kavari - Investment Strategist at Capricorn Asset Management, an affiliate of Bank Windhoek Holdings.

 

The Bank of Namibia decided to raise its benchmark repo rate by 25 basis points at their  April policy meeting, taking the repo rate from 6.75% to 7% and subsequently prime from 10.50% to 10.75%, broadly in line with our expectations.
 
The latest rate hike was largely in keeping with the South African Reserve Bank’s 25 basis points hike in March.  The hike also followed the 25 basis points in February, in which was also in response to the South African Reserve Bank’s 50 basis points increase in January.
 
The decision to hike interest rates was taken with the view of sustaining the currency peg and thus the need to align Namibia’s interest rates with that of South Africa. 
 
Cognisant of maintaining a healthy rate differential between the two countries, Bank of Namibia was also mindful of the keeping liquidity in the local market and preventing capital outflows, which could have put pressure on the country’s external position.
 
The Bank embarked on its monetary tightening cycle in June 2014 in order to slow growth in instalment credit extended to households.  Since mid-last year growth in instalment credit extended to households has moderated.
 
As a result, future interest rate increases in Namibia will be dictated by the South African Reserve Bank’s rate hiking cycle.
 
Interest rate increases in South Africa have been as a result of the high-risk and volatile environment that have forced the South Africa Reserve Bank to manage the perceived risks to their inflation outlook.
 
The inflation profile for South Africa, and by extension Namibia, has markedly deteriorated, with upward inflationary pressures likely to persist throughout 2016 and early 2017.
 
Inflation is expected to peak at 7.3% in the fourth quarter of this year, down from 7.8%, and to return within the 3%-6% target band at 5.5% during the fourth quarter of next year.
 
South African inflation is expected to breach the Reserve Bank’s target band and remain fairly elevated for a prolonged period of time, peaking at 7.3% in the fourth quarter of this year.  
 
This latest interest rate increase is of course terrible news for the poor Namibian consumer. Consumers with high levels of indebtedness will be hard hit as interest rate go up.  Rising inflation in the country is starting to eat into the consumers’ real disposable income.  Add to the mix, increases to water and electricity tariffs and the outlook for the consumer becomes dire.
 
Going forward, we expect two more interest rate increases this year, taking the repo and prime rates to 7.50% and 11.25% respectively, after which we expect a normalisation in rates and a moderation in the country’s inflation profile in 2017.  Some light at the end of a very long tunnel.