Cover Stories


By staff writer

The National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor) has undergone an evolution over the last 30 years after starting off as an advisory entity to the Ministry of Mines and Energy in matters regarding exploration and production matters.

Since Managing Director Immanuel Mulunga took charge, the corporation has undergone significant changes, including a complete rebrand and a push towards a more competitive and commercial edge. In 2020, Mulunga’s contract was extended for another five years. The Founder caught up with the MD to get an insight into his strategic vision and to assess how Namcor performed last year.

TF: In 2020 your contract was extended for another five years. Can you give us an overview of Namcor’s strategic plan for the next four years?

Immanuel Mulunga: My contract was extended for another 5 years running from 1 October 2020 to 31 September 2025. This period is coinciding with a new Integrated Strategic Business Plan (ISBP) for Namcor with the following themes:

• Ensuring Supply for Namibia

• Harnessing the Potential of E&P

• Digital Enablement

• Operational & Organisational Excellence

Our focus is to continue building the Namcor brand by expanding our retail footprint and operationalizing the National Oil Storage Facility (NOSF) on the downstream side while on the upstream side we continue with our upstream agenda of commercializing our E&P opportunities both in Namibia and Internationally.

TF: What were the major influences in setting your strategic focus for 2021?

IM: What influenced our strategy is the need to secure our future financial sustainability by weaning ourselves from any governmental support and capturing a significant market share in the petroleum downstream sector. The NOSF that we now have the pleasure to maintain and operate enables us to achieve this objective. On the upstream side our strategy hinged on the procurement of international producing assets to diversify our sources of revenue and to continue facilitating and working towards a petroleum discovery in Namibia.

TF: Can you give us an overview of some of your achievements at the helm of NAMCOR over the last six years?

IM: We managed to rebrand the entity with a new vibrant and more recognizable brand; we managed to grow the balance sheet and revenues of Namcor by approximately 400%. We had a successful entry into the retail sector, thereby increasing our downstream market share to double figures. We recruited knowledgeable and experienced staff into the company and reorganized the entity into an organization that can get us closer to our vision of becoming a world class petroleum organization. We successfully took over the operatorship of the National Oil Storage Facility and started importing our own petroleum products into the country, plus we successfully farmed out some of our upstream assets to supermajors like ExxonMobil and worked very hard towards that elusive petroleum discovery in Namibia.

TF: What were the major influences in setting your strategic focus for 2021?

IM: The Exploration and Production Act which established Namcor in 1991 gave it a mandate to also venture into the downstream part of the petroleum business. This necessitated Namcor to enter the fuel importation business when it was awarded the mandate to import 50% of the country’s fuel requirements and established a commercial business unit to also directly sell to the market. In 2014 it made a decision to enter the retail business segment but it was only in 2019 when it constructed its first 3 service stations. Today not only is Namcor importing its own petroleum products into the country, it has access to storage facilities that allows it to compete in the commercial business segment, retail business segment (11 service stations) and the export market to countries such as Botswana and Zambia.

TF: Namcor officially took charge of the billion-dollar National Oil Storage Facility in Walvis Bay. What does this mean for Namcor and the country as a whole?

IM: This increases the security of supply of the country by making sure there is an increased amount of fuel in the country at any one time. The NOSF can also be used commercially for Namcor’s own trading activities but also to host international marketing companies to import their petroleum products into the country. These facilities have increased Namcor’s competitiveness in the market as it can now dictate the pricing of its own fuel and in so doing capture more market share from its competitors. The country is in a better position because it has its own storage facilities operated by its own national oil company, so that in the event any of the international majors exit the country, Namcor will still be here to serve the nation.

TF: In December 2020 the storage facility took in its first intake of oil at full capacity. What were some of the lessons learned in that endeavour?

IM: It is a complex business but nothing that we were unable to handle. We’ve managed to employ more than 40 Namibians, mostly from our competitors to run such a state-of-the-art facility and we as Namcor are proud to have managed to achieve this feat. Obviously, a facility of that size doesn’t come up without challenges. They have been numerous but we have overcome most of them and we are set to completely take it over on 1 March 2022 when the 12-month warranty period comes to an end. The biggest lesson learned is that one can do anything that you apply your mind to.

TF: How has the market reacted to this procurement and new option and can you break down for us its commercial viability in the long run?

IM: Firstly, it is important to mention that Namcor has played a major role in preventing this facility from becoming a white elephant. We are still busy ramping up the operations of the terminal and jetty and we believe we will utilize the facility optimally in the near future. We believe the facility will eventually make a return on the investment, especially when government regulates it to be used as the only entry point for petroleum products into the country.

TF: Namcor, last year, announced its intentions to open up more fuel stations countrywide. Can you break down for us how those that are already operational have fared thus far?

IM: So far there are 11 service stations in the country under the Namcor banner and we have another 10 on our books during the next financial year that starts on 1 April 2022. By the end of this calendar year, we expect to have 20 retail sites making us finally a significant player in this business segment. We are proud to be in this position as many people such as banks and previous board members had largely written us off because of our past weak financial position.

TF: The fuel station sector is of course quite competitive with already established brands. Can you give us an overview of how you intend to set Namcor apart from the competition?

IM: We intend to do this by offering a superior and vibrant brand and to leverage on our position as a national oil company and local brand. The placement of our retail sites in strategic positions around the country will ensure our competitiveness. Fortunately, we have already been received enthusiastically by the market.

TF: What were some of the biggest challenges thus far in your time at Namcor, and how has your acumen helped navigate these situations?

IM: Leading a national oil company in Africa is no mean feat and my time here at Namcor has not been an easy one but I have managed to weather the storms and displayed great leadership to transform Namcor into one of the leading and recognizable Public Entities.

TF: Can you give us a summary of Immanuel Mulunga, outside your role as NAMCOR’s Managing Director. What are some of your hobbies?

IM: I am a proud father, a scholar of life with great love for my fellow human. I’m an avid reader and enjoy my alone time from time to time.

Cover Stories

Inside the MVA Fund’s new strategic roadmap

The 31st of March 2019 marked the end of the MVA Fund’s Strategic Plan for 2014-2019. The Founder spoke with the Fund’s CEO, Rosalia Martins-Hausiku on their new five-year strategic outlook, as well as the continued fight to decrease road crash statistics.

TF: You began the first of the next five years as MVA Fund’s reappointed CEO, what is your focus for 2019?

RM: Firstly, I would like to indicate that our Strategic Plan for 2014-2019 ended on the 31st of March 2019, and the new strategy for 2019-2023 has commenced on the 1st of April 2019. The areas of focus for 2019 are as follows:
(i) Financial Performance:

  • With the aim to manage finances and grow net assets to N$105 million.
    (ii) Enhance Customer Experience:
  • By attaining 85% customer satisfaction through the provision of quality customer service, and – 80% stakeholder satisfaction through appropriately managed customer relationships.
    (iii) Internal Effective Process:
  • With the aim to achieve 80% Board satisfaction.
  • 78% system performance and 70% Unit scores (on aggregate) through efficient and effective policies, practices and system.
  • 75% audit compliance.
    (iv) Enhance Employee Experience:
  • With the aim to institutionalize 100% of the Performance Management System, and
  • Attain 80% staff satisfaction.
    (v) Risk Management:
  • With the aim to reach 75% maturity level through integrated Enterprise-wide
    Risk Management.

TF: What were the major influences in setting your strategies and focus for 2019?

RM: The strategy primarily is influenced by our continuous drive to deliver on our enabling mandate in a manner that is sustainable and customer centric at the same time.

But also, an evaluation of the past 5 years has revealed some gaps in the services that we are rendering to our clients, particularly completing the continuum in terms of the rehabilitation services that we are offering. In addition, given the risks inherent in the environment we are operating in, we thought that we monitor risk at the highest level of the organisation to ensure that Enterprise-wide Risk Management and awareness is embedded in the corporate fabric.

Lastly, our need to stay abreast global changes, we continue to reinvent ourselves to ensure that our people, processes and systems are responsive to the dynamic needs of our clientele.

TF: This was the final year of MVA Fund’s Strategic Plan 2014-2019. What programmes have you established or reinforced during this time would you say stand out?

RM: The MVA Fund has for the past five years (2014-2019) made significant strides in achieving its strategic objectives as approved by the Board in 2013, under the theme ‘Nzira Zompe’ (a new route).

Below are the Key Performance Areas and some of the highlights on the remarkable results achieved:

Service Performance
• Establishment of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Physiotherapy & Occupational Therapy) at the University of Namibia.
• Establishment of Spinalis Unit in the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
• Customer satisfaction level increased from 79% in 2014 to 95% in 2018.
• Modified 99 houses for seriously injured persons.
• Rehabilitation.

  1. 952 persons were returned to community.
  2. 499 persons were returned to work.
  3. 200 persons were returned to school.

Human Resource Development
• Deloitte Best Company to Work for Award.

  1. 2014 – 2nd place small to medium category.
  2. 2015 – 2nd place small to medium category.
  3. 2016 – 1st place small to medium category.
    • Employee engagement level.
  4. 2014 – 83%.
  5. 2015 – 83%.
  6. 2016 – 83%.
  7. 2017 – 73% but above the industry standard of 70%.

Effective Internal Processes
• Achieved 85% on audit findings in 2017/18.
• Developed three-year risk management plan
2016 and implemented 76% thereof.
• Achieved averaged institutional performance score of 80%.

Financial Performance
• Funding level at 144% in 2018 from 84% in 2014.
• Investments increased to N$1.3 billion from N$347m in 2014.
• Investment income increased to N$70m from N$19m in 2014.
• Property portofolio increased to N$160m from N$76m in 2014.

TF: The current economic slump has led to government’s cost cutting measures for the last three or so years. How has the MVA Fund adjusted in this period and how has that affected cash flow and operations?

RM: The current economic slump is being felt across all sectors and MVA Fund is no exception. Despite the Fund not receiving direct financial allocations from treasury, the reduced economic activities have resulted in decreased fuel consumption and by extension, reduced fuel levy revenue for the Fund. The Fund has always exercised cost management measures and these continued to be implemented during the economic downturn currently facing the country.

Given the reduced cash flow from fuel levy revenue, the MVA Fund had to ensure that we render our services using our available resources efficiently so as not to have our operations negatively impacted and we are coping in this regard. The biggest expense the Fund has is claims related, hence there is not much innovation that can take place in that area. We however have influence in accident and injury prevention to ensure that our exposure is reduced.
To this end we have intensified our activities along the B1 and B2 routes, which are our deadliest routes. We have also intensified our workplace road safety interventions targeting a lot of the corporate companies.

TF: The number of crashes, fatalities and injuries has gone down between 2017 and 2018. What would you attribute this to and in what ways has the MVA Fund played a key part?

RM: The comparative statistical analysis of 2017/2018 shows a reduction in figures in crashes by 8%, injuries by 16%, and fatalities by 28 respectively. The Fund in collaboration with stakeholders rolled out various road safety campaigns including:
• Click for life campaign – advocates for the usage of seatbelts every time a driver and passengers embark upon a journey, be it a short or long trip. This campaign was launched in March 2017. Furthermore, the campaign also focused on child restraints that protect minors from being thrown out of a vehicle in the event of a crash. Research shows that seatbelt usage minimises chances of fatalities, while reducing injuries that could be sustained during a crash up to 60%.

• Stand sober campaign – focused on random breath testing of drivers in order to ensure sober drivers. The target was to screen about 200 drivers per day per law enforcer. Upon introduction of this campaign a reduction of intoxicated drivers has been observed.

• Tyre safety interventions – were conducted at bus terminals and roadblocks throughout the country, and many vehicles have been suspended off the road due to tyre noncompliance – 2cm depth of the grooves of the tyre.

• Deployment of law enforcement on the B1 and B2 routes – focused on the inspection of the roadworthiness of vehicles and checking of drivers without valid driver’s licences. This has served as a deterring measure and may have greatly attributed to the reduction of crashes on our roads.

The MVA Fund has aggressively conducted engagements especially during peak times – Independence Day, Easter Holidays, Heroes Day, as well as during the Festive Season. The aim was to sensitise drivers on the dangers of not adhering to road traffic rules. This is normally done through various channels of communication – radio, social media and distribution of flyers at road blocks.

TF: Tell us about stakeholder collaboration and your relationship with the public as far as road safety awareness goes.

RM: The Fund has built strong collaborative relations with its stakeholders in order to carry out its campaigns successfully with the purpose of saving lives on Namibian roads. We believe that road safety calls for a concerted effort and no single institution will win if operating in silo. The public out there believes in the strong brand of the Fund and it is our duty to ensure that we engage in accident and injury prevention measures.

TF: And looking ahead, what are some new strategies and/or programmes are you excited about bringing into play in the near future?

RM: There are several notable projects and programmes that the Fund will be undertaking. These are among others:
i) Research to determine causes of crashes

  • I believe this research will make a positive difference in understanding the
    scientific causes of road crashes in Namibia and ultimately aid in reducing road carnage in our country. To-date, no scientific research has been done to determine the actual causes of crashes in the country. The call by our political leaders that the Fund had a chance to engage which led to the MVA Fund commissioning a road safety research in the five highest crash regions namely: Khomas, Erongo, Otjozondjupa, Oshana and Kavango.

The MVA Fund will play a pivotal role to develop understanding and consensus amongst stakeholders regarding the causes of crashes, injuries and fatalities while at the same time building data intelligence capability to inform future interventions.

(ii) Implementation of new IT system

  • The Fund aims to achieve the following from implementing a new IT system:
    • Improved customer services.
    • Enhance relations with service providers through system efficiencies.
    • Improve management reporting through quality internal processes.
    • Improve institution operational efficiency.

(iii) Establish a Satellite Office in Katutura

  • Through establishing an envisaged Satellite Office in Katutura, the Fund aims to take its services and benefits closer to the people.
  • The Fund’s envisaged satellite office is also geared towards enhancing improved and efficient customer service.

(iv) Establish a Rehabilitation Facility

  • The purpose of the rehabilitation facility is for the Fund to assist persons affected by motor vehicle crashes with information on how they can look after themselves on their journey to independence.
  • Amongst others this includes information on how to avoid bed sores, the usage of wheelchairs and support groups.

(v) Legislative Reform

  • This is to review the benefits we offer to our clients which remained stagnant since 2008. In this way, we want to improve our benefits offered to persons affected by motor vehicle crashes.

TF: In what ways have your team’s efforts complimented your success during your time as CEO at the MVA Fund?

RM: As a dynamic and service driven institution, I have a passionate and hardworking team that is committed to deliver on our mandate with precision. They understand the vision and understand the type of clientele we serve and their passion drives them. We also have a robust performance management system coupled with an employee development programme that ensures that the Fund maintains its culture as a learning organisation. This has always been the approach at the Fund and has become a recipe of success where my team and I have remained consistent in making the Fund not only one of the best companies to work for, but also a public enterprise that efficiently and effectively focuses on the needs of its customers. Our customer and stakeholder satisfaction levels as measured through surveys are outstanding.

TF: There are still misunderstandings about certain exclusions and limitations on benefits awarded to persons affected by car accidents. What would you say are the major misconceptions?

RM: Yes, there is definitely a lack of knowledge especially on limitations where the Fund provides limited benefits only if the person affected by the crash is wholly responsible for it. Such persons only qualify for medical benefits, but still expect the Fund to award them the injury grant. Most drivers are usually affected by this and the majority of such clients are dissatisfied with the medical benefit that is applicable to them. The MVA Fund through its Public Education team continues to educate the public on limitations and exclusions as set out in its MVA Fund Act 10 of 2007.

Cover Stories

Meet the duo behind the best Estate Agency of 2018

In 2008 brothers, Dickson and Philip Swanepoel sat in the living room of their Windhoek flat during the height of the United States subprime mortgage crisis that preceded the global recession.

They conceived a way to revolutionise the Namibian property industry and thus YellowSquare Properties was born. 10 years later, during the height of Namibia’s own economic crisis, YellowSquare Properties is a diamond in its industry, receiving the First Prize at Standard Bank as best Estate Agency of the year 2018.

With over 50 estate agents, YellowSquare Properties is one of Namibia’s biggest Real Estate Agencies, but this came through ten years of hard work and calculated operations, and manager Dickson funnelled the experience he had gained at Pam Golding Properties (PGP) in Stellenbosch, South Africa where he proudly established a successful rental department.

“We realised that there is a gap in the market as
there was no platform or assistance for one-man estate agencies as they had to run a full business, manage trust accounts and also service their clients and received no professional training in the industry. We then started the business to provide this platform including education to improve all the estate agents’ skills in the industry,” Dickson tells TF.

Growth was slow at the beginning but with patience and commitment
the brothers improved the company’s value and education that was offered to the estate agents. Now estate agents want to join YellowSquare Properties as they hear through friends and other estate agents that it is the best Estate Agency to join because of the relevant industry training and the great support platform they can use. So now, when their agents get Standard Bank Silver Millionaires Club awards for giving the bank business worth millions, it is not a surprise, it is expected.

Due to the platform and education offered to the estate agents they have hence become more professional and self-educated and motivated other estate agents to join YellowSquare Properties. This in return has caused their number of estate agents to grow to more than 50 estate agents this year. This education, the brothers believe, was the tipping point for YellowSquare Properties and effective team dynamics keep it going. And they capped of 2018 in style.

“Four of our estate agents won six awards at the FNB and Standard Bank, FNB, Nedbank and Bank Windhoek prize giving this year and YellowSquare Properties received the First Prize at Standard Bank as best Estate Agency of the year.” Early on, Dickson realised that the best way towards prosperity for the company was investing in his real estate agents, and thus he assembled the most diverse group of agents, ranging from all cultures in Namibia and some beyond.

The company keeps abreast with technology and employs the latest techniques to market properties and source clients nationally and
internationally. In fact, technology is another instrumental component of the business’ operational setup. The website is one of their biggest marketing platforms used to acquire most of their clients.
The website attracts more than 6000 visitors per month from all over the world.

A large portion of the company’s marketing budget is spent on the advertisement and branding through several advertising mediums on the internet to attract clients to the website. Thus, having a team that can communicate and relate with a diversity of property buyers and sellers becomes of paramount importance.

“Buying, selling and renting property is one of the most stressful situations during any person’s life and it is easier for clients to trust an estate agent who is of the same culture who they can relate with and who can also speak their language to make the whole process less stressful,” Philip says. The dynamism of two brothers who come from almost two polar opposite career paths has created a ground for success for the company. Dickson has brought his property and contract skills that he learned from Pam Golding as well as computer and marketing skills to the YellowSquare platform to create the best platform for estate agents to use while Philip, an established lawyer, brought his law and business skills to the platform to set up a good foundation for the business. When the brothers spend time together, they are always talking about business and discuss different opportunities as this is a topic that both of them enjoy talking about.

There is a YellowSquare Properties today, don’t be surprised if there is a BlueSquare Financials, or some other business venture, tomorrow. Recently, the brothers also established a sister company called Golden Transfers (, which in short is a property related business that does member’s transfers of property that is owned by Close Corporations (CC) at a 20% reduced cost to what the attorneys charge in Namibia. This encourages more clients to save costs when they purchase property in CC’s. Of course, with the largest pool of estate agents for a Namibian Agency, and being the responsibility of one man –Dickson, who runs the day to day side of business, there is effort that goes into overseeing such a team in the daily liaisons between buyer, seller and agent while ensuring professionalism, quality service is provided, and all the company’s values are kept.

He gives regular training to the estate agents and uses technology to the company’s advantage to communicate with the estate agents in a group and also gives personal attention and training to the individual agent where he sees training is required. This is an ongoing process that requires a lot of patience and commitment on improving each individual estate agent’s skills.

“Most people that enter the property industry think it is easy and a get rich quick solution, while this is not the case. Only about 10% of estate agents that write the exam and enter the property industry succeed and survive. While only 2% are really successful and make a good income. It is a tough industry and people do not realise how much hard work it takes to become successful in this industry. Estate agents need to be self-motivated and driven to be successful in this industry,” Dickson says. His business mantra is modelled around being a stickler for doing things right. He peruses contracts three times over and keeps himself informed with latest rules that regulate his industry.

“Once you follow these rules as your basic guideline it makes things easier as you know how to guide clients and estate agents according to these rules. I like to encourage and motivate the estate agents as they
all require this throughout the year to stay positive and active in the market. Even the best estate agents require this motivation!” In deed he has to keep up with the industry’s regulations. Afterall, the housing market is one of the most complex industries in Namibia and understanding all of its nuances and technicalities is something economists go and study for years for, but what is clear is that the high demand and limited supply of houses in Windhoek has been pushing prices at an average of 11% per annum since 2007 according to banking reports. This saw Namibia hold the world’s highest property inflation in 2015, beating Dubai.

Earlier this year, however, the Namibian housing market saw a drop in prices for houses for the first time in a decade.
Amidst this, while many have criticised the free market and called for a rent control board, Dickson argues that the biggest advantage in a free market is that the economy will automatically adjust prices due to client’s willingness to pay what they are prepared to pay. “We have seen property sales only going through when prices are lowered up to 30% lower than bank valuations and property rentals only happening when owners lower their rent up to 30% lower than the previous year’s rent that they received. In the current market if you must sell you have to adjust your prices accordingly so that your property offers the best value in its price range.”

Away from his home office, Dickson spends most of his free time with his family and will read books and play some games to relax over weekends. He also loves camping and being in the outdoors where he can drink a cold beer with family and friends on occasion. “For 2019, our vision is to be the number one Real Estate Agency across the nation by expanding our property portfolio further to all corners of Namibia and our focus is to improve the professionalism and education of the estate agents to provide the best results.”

…The Founder also sat down with four of YellowSqaure Properties’ award-winning agents to find out about their recipes for success.

TF: Tell us about your experience working at YellowSquare Properties?

Aina Sheya: When I became an estate agent, YellowSquare is the first and only company I worked for, I have received all the training and mentoring from YellowSquare Properties, to me it’s the best Real Estate company in Namibia.

Beverly von Luttichou: It’s an independent flexible company to work for.

Rina de Bod: YellowSquare is a well-established company with numerous experienced agents, which make it profitable to work with.

Irmgard Hamayulu: Choosing YellowSquare firm is one of the best decisions I have made in my life, it was easy to adopt. I have learned so much and gained so much experience through teamwork, professionalism and learned
to always strive to be the best that I can be. I have met friends, role models and mentors.

TF: Tell us about your personal highlights in the property market for 2018,
including awards received?

Aina: Awards: -Standard Bank (Gold Millionaire Award Winner) 10 Million and above award -Nedbank 5 Million and above award. It was a tough year, but for me the word tough provokes me and create opportunities for me to win, I love challenges.

Beverly: Awards: -FNB 5 to 10 Million award -Bank Windhoek 4 Million and above award. Highlights were the trainings we received in 2018 by implementing the new learnings as well as execution.

Rina: Awards: -FNB 5 to 10 Million award. Although the market was difficult in 2018, it is very rewarding working with previous, loyal clients.

Irmgard: Awards: Standard Bank (Silver Millionaire Award Winner) 7 Million and above award. Every single day in real estate is my highlight, but being the standard Bank Silver award winner was my favourite, I was not expecting it, it was all a dream. It was just a year since I started.

TF: What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about being a real estate agent?

Aina: People think it’s easy to sell properties, and they think we get paid high commission for doing little, but this job required a lot of dedication, it’s not as easy as people think.

Beverly: Majority come into the business not knowing the core fundamentals of the business and think it’s an easy industry as well as quick money.

Rina: Being an estate agent is hard work, and not easy money as people think it is.

Irmgard: When I started, I was told “YOU CAN NEVER MAKE IT AS A PART TIME REAL ESTATE AGENT” honestly, you can make it everywhere, all you need is to prioritise, believe and serve your clients at your best of your capability.

Cover Stories

Heikky S. Katti’s ceramic perspective

Perspective. It is perhaps the one thing that gives eagles an evolutionary advantage over their prey. Besides their ferocious talons and superior flight, an eagle’s vision is up to eight times stronger than that of an average human being permitting it to see over three kilometers away.

An eagle’s viewpoint is the key factor that has allowed it to be crowned the king of the skies and it is upon this philosophical rock that Heikky S. Katti has built his house, Namibia Ceramics through his holding company Punto De Vue Holdings (an Italian translation for Viewpoint).

Namibia Ceramics is a manufacturing initiative that Katti conceived in early 2016 to setup the first ever ceramic plant in Namibia. After construction begins later this year [2018], this will see Namibia being able to produce ceramic products such as floor and wall tiles from locally available industrial minerals such as clay and feldspar. According to the quantity surveyor’s estimates the project will cost N$185m once complete, generating N$90m annually and creating at least 150 permanent jobs along the whole value chain which includes mining, processing, logistics, marketing, and sales.

The project was initially planned for Rundu but upon doing a thorough due diligence on the quality and locality of raw materials, production plans have since moved to Tsumeb. “It’s a big vision for the country that we have been developing through my company Punto De Vue Holdings together with the Development Bank of Namibia and our equity partner, Konigstein Capital, and our Italian technical partner and equipment supplier, SACMI, to bring it to full bankability,” shares Katti.

Frustrated by the reality that Namibia currently imports 100% of its ceramic tile, which swells to 2.2 million square metres annually, Katti saw a gap in the market and was compelled by foresight to enlist the help of his childhood friend, Titus Hidishange. Together they saved up more than N$300,000 from their own salaries over a two-year period for the project. All this at age 28. These funds were used for Environmental Impact Assessments, for the design of the building of the plant and a 2016 business trip to SACMI in Italy. Namibia Ceramics will source equipment from SACMI and they will give them after-sales technical support, including training on site at Tsumeb and in Italy.

In November last year, Namibia Ceramic won the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) 2017 Innovation Award that came with N$500,000. “Namibia Ceramics will add value to Namibian clay, quartz and feldspar, by manufacturing tiles, locally. In addition to import substitution and improved product availability with a reduced transport cost,” said a DBN spokesperson, last year. The N$500,000 prize assisted in ticking off several boxes which Katti and his team initially could not afford to do out of their own pockets. For example, immediately after winning the award, they decided together with DBN to re-run the quality tests on the raw materials with a more
reputable lab.

They were able to carry out this exercise through SACMI’s laboratory in Italy within a short period of time because the funds were available. “There are so many hidden costs in preparing projects of this magnitude such as hiring of equipment and manpower to collect samples from the field, and also transport and accommodation cost. The award also gave Namibia Ceramics identity and credibility as a brand and for that reason we were able to do things much faster because people were now interested in hearing our story. We have since been allocated industrial land (5000 m2) by the Tsumeb Municipality on a very good price. We have also managed to source a factory manager from an existing ceramic plant in South Africa. We flew him in a few weeks back to come and view the town of Tsumeb and he is willing to relocate to Namibia to come manage the plant for us,” Katti says.

Just recently, DBN commissioned an independent study of the market to re-affirm Namibia Ceramic’s assumptions and also to establish whether there is a market gap in the neighbouring countries for export purposes. With these milestones, Katti and his Namibia Ceramic team have not rested on their laurels. In fact, their viewpoint has only sharpened. “Our focus has really been on preparing the project to full bankability in order for the investors to release the funds so that we can start with construction. We thought this would happen earlier during the year but we have since learned that there were still a few key areas that needed to be addressed. I have confidence however that before end of this year we will be able to start with construction,” says Katti.

A Mining Engineer by profession, he graduated in 2011 as a Namdeb Bursar at University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. After graduation, he worked at Namdeb Diamond Corporation as a Trainee Mining Engineer. This was a three-year training program where, along with other fellow graduates he underwent training and tests that evaluated whether they had the necessary leadership skills to perform in the corporate world. Currently he is an Explosives Engineer for Sasol’s Namibian branch.

Sasol is an integrated energy and chemical company based in Sandton, South Africa. The company was formed in 1950 in Sasolburg, South Africa and built on processes that were first developed by German chemists and engineers in the early 1900s. “The biggest challenge for me has really been having to balance my energy between business and my 8 – 5 job. But I’m so grateful that my employer, Sasol, and specifically my manager Mr Tobie Van Der Linde, saw so much potential in me and chose to support my vision in terms of time
and resources. There was even a point last year when I ran out of leave days because of business meetings but my manager still allowed me to attend meetings provided that my job at the mine is in order. This is what you get when you have patriotic people working together,” he says.

Patriotism, faith and the audacity to be different have been Katti’s recipe to success. He believes a businessman or businesswoman needs to be able to take calculated risks even beyond that, a morsel of faith to leap into the unknown. Namibia Ceramics also fits in very well with the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap (2015 – 2063), which highlights the urgent need for the region to leverage its abundant and diverse resources to accelerate industrialization through beneficiation and value addition (manufacturing).

His hope is that this project will inspire more young people to come forth in the spirit of patriotism and help develop the country with the knowledge that they have acquired from school and not just become mere job seekers. “Dare to be different, do not be afraid to be controversial like the billionaire and US President Donald Trump. If you are to achieve something extraordinary in this world you need to embrace your uniqueness, do not kill your purpose by trying to fit in when God has already set you apart, do not conform!” he maintains.