A town looking forward to change

Closed off from the general population for more than 80 years, the diamond town faces declining income from this source and is thus hoping for other income-generating opportunities.

10 December 2018 | Infrastructure

Nina Cerezo - “For more than 80 years, Oranjemund was an isolated diamond town with the local economy almost completely based on the mining of gemstones. Now we have to seek new business opportunities.”

With these words the town's mayor, Henry Coetzee, welcomed participants to the Economic and Tourism Networking conference held during Oranjemund Diamond Festival last week. According to Coetzee and based on the motto “Mining today, Tourism tomorrow”, the event aimed to look into new investment opportunities in order to “transform the town's economy”.

Much of the focus is on tourism, which will soon be followed by a letter of intent to the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), he said.

In addition, Coetzee sees the town as a potential location for technical colleges, especially in the mining sector, which could attract students from across national borders.

Thanks to its strategic location, the town can also serve as an international trading centre where goods are efficiently exchanged by air and sea as well as via road to Rosh Pinah. Thanks to this, Oranjemund also offers investment opportunities for banks, the telecommunications industry and transport companies.

However, according to Coetzee, for this to be possible, it is essential to expand the town's existing infrastructure, “because it was built exclusively for diamond mining and with a capacity to carry only the current population,” he said.

In order to promote socio-economic development, the town council developed a plan for the next 25 years, in which, for example, the expansion of the water and sewage system was determined. In addition, 200 erven have already been made available for the construction of homes and businesses, while 264 flats are currently being developed for low-paid workers. According to Coetzee, these should be complete early next year.

In conclusion the mayor called for residents to maintain the image as a friendly and clean town and, moreover, to keep costs down for investors.

The Diamond Festival, open to the public for the first time this year, was attended by more than 100 exhibitors, including both local and international business people. It served as a platform to market the town.

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