Namibian business chief asks for preferential procurement

2 November 2010
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2 November 2010 | Nick Martindale

The chief executive of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on the government to introduce a system of preferential procurement to support local industries.

In an interview with SM, Tarah Shaanika said the development of local suppliers was being held back by the tendency of the government to award contracts to foreign companies offering the lowest prices, even if this meant products were imported from South Africa or other countries.

“Companies come here with cheap products and convince the government to buy from them but their mission is to kill local industries,” he said. “Once the local industry is dead they up their prices.”

Agricultural commodities, IT services and clothing, such as army uniforms, could all be produced locally if the government backed Namibian industries, he added.

“It might be a little bit more expensive to use local suppliers but if you look at the economic impact on jobs and investment the advantages are huge,” he said.

Shaanika also called for more assistance to be given to black-owned businesses, along similar lines to the broad-based black economic empowerment system that operates in South Africa.

“There must be legislation to give blacks preferential treatment for a period of time until they can compete favourably with their white compatriots,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Namibian government declined to comment.

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