Corona bites harder

The NCCI has urged the private sector to assist in setting up quarantine facilities and acquiring testing kits and immune boosters for donation to major and district hospitals.

18 March 2020 | Business

The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) has called for closer collaboration between government and the private sector to prepare businesses for any potential long-term economic impacts of the coronavirus.

This follows two confirmed cases of the virus in Namibia and preventative measures announced by President Hage Geingob, including the banning of “big gatherings” for a period of 30 days.

“The NCCI is working to make sure the business community is ready for any scenario, because it is essential to be prudent and prepared, but not overreact,” NCCI president Sven Thieme said.

The NCCI urged the private sector and all stakeholders to support and facilitate the provision of sanitation infrastructure in key public places and informal settlements, and to support government with oxygen ventilators.

It further urged the private sector to assist in setting up quarantine facilities and acquiring testing kits and immune boosters for donation to major and district hospitals, as well as with the creation of creative communication messages in vernacular.

The chamber said it is critical the country pulls its efforts together to ensure that the economy keeps going, irrespective of the circumstances.

“Given the experience since the outbreak, where a whole region can be locked down, the NCCI feels strongly that government should not shy away from taking decisive actions.”

In this regard, the NCCI called on government to issue directives such as immediately incorporating the private sector in all its procurement processes and trade relationship negotiations.

Furthermore, it wants government to direct that all tenders, both public and private, be issued to local companies as this will lead to a faster capacity-building outcome.

It said government should seriously look at the substitution of imported products where it has capacity to produce forthwith, and only allow production inputs to be imported.



AGM, other events postponed

Meanwhile, the NCCI has postponed its annual general meeting (AGM), gala dinner and a number of other events, and has mandated social distance measures.

The Chamber of Mines of Namibia also announced that the Mining Expo, scheduled for 22 and 23 April, has been postponed to 2 and 3 September.

The NCCI's AGM brings together over 100 representatives from its branches countrywide, as well as corporates and other stakeholders in government and the business sector.

The gala dinner attracts over 400 guests from the business, government, diplomatic and donor communities, as well as international agencies.

The AGM and gala dinner were scheduled to take place on 27 March in Windhoek and both events have been postponed until further notice.

NCCI CEO Charity Mwiya further advised that additional events planned for the first half of the year had been called off. One such event is a Cuban business delegation visit that was expected to take place in April when a Namibia-Cuba business forum was to be hosted.

Similarly, an NCCI-led trade mission to Rwanda that was planned for May has also been postponed.

Mwiya further said the NCCI is ensuring the business community is ready for any scenario, but urged that the response to the coronavirus is grounded in facts, not driven by fear.

According to Mwiya, the chamber will continue to work closely with its members and the broader business community, local, regional and national governments and all stakeholders to ensure the economic resilience of Namibian businesses, focusing on employee support, business operations, supply chain and trade disruption, and the impact on small businesses and medium-sized enterprises.

ELLANIE SMIT

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