Sex workers abandon former boomtown

05 August 2019 | Local News

Commercial sex seems to have vanished from the northern border town of Oshikango since the end of its trading boom a few years ago.

Oshikango once did a roaring trade with neighbouring Angola, but that ended when that country's oil-based economy went into a tailspin in 2015.

In recent years local residents have taken over businesses activities at the town, which seem to have made a modest recovery.

Helao Nafidi mayor Eliaser Nghipangelwa says when business was booming, the local economy mainly benefited foreigners and prostitutes.

“Due to the economic meltdown there is no more prostitution in and around Oshikango. When the economy was doing well, prostitution was a commercial activity at Oshikango, but now that the economy is not good we do not see them anymore and we can say they are not here anymore,” Nghipangelwa told the media.

“During those years, very few local people used to do shopping at Oshikango, but as we are talking, local people are the ones sustaining business here and they are keeping the town alive.”

In 2008, a survey by the National Social Marketing (Nasoma) programme ascertained that there was a high prevalence of commercial sex work at Oshikango on the Namibia/Angola border.

According to the survey more than 100 women and girls were engaging in commercial sex there.

Nghipangelwa said this situation was also attributed to the escalating informal settlement at the town and now that they have started formalising the townships, these social challenges are becoming something of the past.

Nghipangelwa rubbished claims that the town is dying.

He said because of the decline in cross-border trade with Angola several businesses closed down.

“The business sector is now in a stable condition. We do not have businesses closing down anymore, apart from those that closed down at the beginning of the economic decline.

“There are many businesses that have opened since the economy collapsed and they are still going strong. Some of them are even expanding their operations and some investors are buying plots to expand or establish business.

“Only export businesses are not doing well because the Angolans are buying with US dollars, which are scarce in Angola,” Nghipangelwa said.

The mayor said other developments such as housing provision are taking place, indicating that the town is far from dying.