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Namibia proves difficult for Nigerian investors

09 April 2013, 10:02Philip Shingirai

 Windhoek - While Nigerian business people have found it easy to penetrate the African continent in retail and automobile business, Namibia has proven difficult for the West Africans to dominate.

This is despite both Namibia and Nigeria enjoying very cordial relations where the Nigerian government also helps Namibia with technical capacity in difficult fields and the two governments also have an annual bilateral engagement

Research by CAJ News in Windhoek shows that the very few Nigerians who have made inroads into the Namibian business sector have only had success with fashion boutiques while the retail sector is dominated by South Africans and Chinese.

In an interview with CAJ News in Windhoek, Martha Nsofo, a Nigerian entrepreneur, who imports clothes and hair products into the country believes the Namibian business landscape is very lucrative but in most cases the challenge lies in a small market.

“I have been in Namibia doing business for close to ten years now. In fact I am now Namibian because I am married to a local. What I have realised is that most foreign business men, even including those from my country, are not eager to come here because the market is relatively small.

"However the secret lies in studying which products would easily penetrate the market. I have also realised that women seem to spend more on beauty and hair products, so this has been my niche for the past couple of years.

"I first came here in 2001 after our government had their annual engagement with their Namibia counterparts. Since then I have spotted an opportunity that could benefit me,” Nsofo says.

According to her the cost of doing business in Namibia is also on the high side as a result of the government monitoring the type of imports that find their way into Namibia.

The same sentiments were echoed by Marks Egwovan, who deals in cell phones and cellphone accessories in the heart of Windhoek, who argues that the biggest challenge that Nigerians face in penetrating Namibia is that the government has a strict control on imports.

“Initially when I came to Namibia I had planned to erect a car dealership and wanted to import second hand cars for the middle-to-low income earning market.

"However, that business venture is not easy in Namibia because the government does not allow the importation of cars that are older than five years. This automatically means I had to change my business plan to deal in brand new cars.

"Although that would be relevant it is difficult because in Namibia brand new cars do not seem to sell easily because the cost is rather high. Very few people other than companies can afford to buy brand new cars,” said Egwovan.

However the Namibian Chamber of Commerce seem to think otherwise, saying there has not been enough commitment from the Nigerian and the Namibian government to market the business opportunity in the two countries.

“It is rather difficult to understand why both Namibians and Nigerians have not been strengthening the cordial relations between the two countries.

Opportunities in the country are available for any investor to come and get but the West Africans have often taken a back seat.

Government in the past has even introduced a direct flight to West Africa Ghana in a bid to attract investors from that part of the continent but for a long time now it has taken too long to yield results.

What has been going on is that Nigerians in Namibia are more into churches but there has not been genuine interest to venture into the business sector that has ability to create sustainable jobs,” Shaanika said.

- CAJ News


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