Thursday, November 22, 2018

Namibia’s Half-billion Fish Factory Hits Snag
Southern Times
November 19, 2018
By Timo Shihepo

Windhoek – A lack of funds has been blamed for delaying the largest pelagic processing plant in sub-Saharan Africa from going online.

The anticipated National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor)’s onshore horse mackerel processing plant has failed to meet the deadline and is likely to start operating only in January 2019, nearly five months after the intended date.

The Southern Times has learned that a lack of funds has been the main reason for the delay despite the company refuting such claims.

The plant, which is being constructed in Walvis Bay, failed to meet the September 2018 deadline despite Fishcor’s chief executive officer Mike Nghipunya earlier this year boasting that the project would be one of the fastest government projects to be built within the stipulated time.

Nghipunya announced the construction of the factory with fanfare early this year, with a ground-breaking ceremony attended by the country’s officialdom and a media tour months later.

The onshore processing plant is being constructed at the old Etale canning factory from whom Fishcor bought the land and the assets found there for R160 million. The sale made headlines in the country, with critiques claiming that the purchase price was inflated.

Fishcor’s partner, Africa Selection Fishing Namibia, which will own 60% of the factory, injected R370 million towards the construction, buying refrigerators and demolishing the old factory building.

Nghipunya confirmed to The Southern Times this week that some delays occurred at what would be the largest pelagic processing plant in sub-Saharan Africa once completed.

He denied that the delay was caused by a lack of funds. Those in the know claimed that the company allegedly pleaded with the government for a cash injection to help complete the factory’s construction.

“It’s not true as we have never asked for money from the government for this project anyway. We had some minor delays but everything is on track and we are busy setting up machinery ahead of the start of the new season in January. We decided to push the starting date to next year because it doesn’t make sense when the season is just about to end,” he said.

According to Nghipunya, the factory will employ 700 people 70% of them women.

“Recruitment for management positions, or what you call a production team, is underway. Vacancies such as for foremen has been advertised while we also received some curriculum vitae for general employees.”

Once completed, the factory will also be able to process about 70,000 tonnes of fish per year.  The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has guaranteed 50,000 metric tons of horse mackerel quota to Fishcor for the next 15 years.

The company said it will use additional space to make extra income by handling fish from other companies, which do not have enough space at their facilities.

The 50,000 metric tons have helped Fishcor avoid collapse, as the company was swimming in debt. Before these metric tons, the company made a combined R54 million loss since 2009 -2014 but has now made a combined R145 million net profit for the year between 2015 and 2017 as part of its turn – around strategy – largely thanks to the 50,000 metric tons.

While Namibia is the priority market, the company will export the horse mackerel to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Botswana and will also look at new markets such as Malawi, Lesotho, and Zambia amongst others.

Fishcor was founded on 27 December 1991 ‑ 100% owned by the government. It has several subsidiary companies such as Seaflower Lobster Corporation, Seaflower Whitefish Corporation, and Seacope Freezer.

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