ERONGO'S new governor, Neville Andre, will not only be leading one of Namibia's most dynamic economic regions, but started doing so at a time the Covid-19 pandemic is causing chaos around the world.
Erongo is not immune to the impact of the virus, which is expected to be felt for some time.
“Erongo is well-endowed with natural resources and is the economic hub of Namibia. It is a fact that during the Covid-19, most industries have come to a standstill. This has and will continue to heavily affect the economy of the region in terms of employment and overall trade,” Andre said at an introductory press-briefing last Friday.
“My mammoth responsibilities also speak to the overall challenges Namibia is facing in terms of our economy, housing, unemployment and the overall improvement of livelihoods. It will be business unusual. This means we have a lot of work to do and it is time to get to work.”
Erongo and Khomas regions were the first to go into lockdown on 27 March, and have been in lockdown since – the rest of the country joined in
last week. The lockdown is set to end on 4 May.
Andre said the impact of the pandemic has become unbearable, and he is consulting stakeholders to find solutions to ensure industries continue to sustain lives and boost the economy.
“We need to do the right thing, because saving lives is our ultimate objective. Furthermore, we have realized during this lockdown, how severely the pandemic has affected our economy which is predominantly import based. We are therefore challenged as a region,
to diversify our activities to allow the economy to keep going during such trying times,” he said.
He proposed diversification to food-production, and value addition in fish and beef products.
According to the governor, the effective regulation and development of micro mining, as well as utilizing indigenous knowledge, were important in dealing with pandemics.
“We must move in the direction of self- reliance and sustainability,” said Andre.
The new governor will also engage financial institutions such as the Development Bank of Namibia to support industrialisation projects in Erongo to boost economic growth, and create employment.
Andre said he was happy with what he learnt from the regional Covid-19 task team in terms of preparedness of the region to fight the pandemic.
He said his office will hold a press conferences every Friday, to share information and updates on the virus in the region.
Andre is one of several governors appointed by president Hage Geingob
two weeks ago.
He is Walvis Bay-born and has served as president of the Namibia National Students Organisation, committee member of the National Youth Council of Namibia, national executive committee member of the Swapo Party Youth League, a member of Windhoek East Swapo Party leadership and a member of the Swapo Party think tank.
For the past 12 years Andre worked with Cabinet, where he served as personal assistant to the Secretary of Cabinet.
“I have no doubt that it is this kind of exposure and expertise that the governor will bring to shape the discourse in our region,” said chairman of the Erongo regional council Juuso Kambueshe.
SOURCE: The Namibian