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Rössing in the Erongo Region
Message from Erongo Region Governor
Message from SAMUEL NUUYOMA, Governor of the Erongo Region
Throughout the 30 years that we in the Erongo Region have lived side by side with Rössing Uranium, the company has contributed tremendously towards the development of the Region, specifically in Arandis and Swakopmund.
Arandis as a town is there because of Rössing. During the good years, Rössing developed the town, but also now the mine has committed itself towards the renovation of the old infrastructure. In Swakopmund, the suburbs of Mondesa, Tamariskia and Vineta all show part of Rössing’s contribution towards the development of Swakopmund.
Rössing and the Rössing Foundation also support the schools in the Region. Whenever any individual school approaches them, they are always willing to help. For example, the Kolin Foundation School in Arandis is strongly supported by the Rössing Foundation.
Furthermore, the Rössing Foundation plays an important role in helping the people from Arandis with developing skills and training them in various fields. In these and many more areas, Rössing plays a vital role towards the development of the community and the social upliftment of the people of Erongo.
The new mines opening in the Region are a good sign, and show the area is developing: it can give more employment to its own people. All the new mines are going to contribute towards the economy of the country as well as to the economy of the Region. We in Erongo are becoming an important role player in the mining industry of Namibia, supplementing our fishing and tourism industries that we also have in the Region. Therefore, as a Region, we have more and more to offer our visitors.
Of course, with mining activities increasing, we are all aware that water is a scarce resource and is everybody’s concern. About five years ago, there was talk about setting up a desalination plant. Although it has not yet materialised, the idea has not yet been rejected; in fact, it is something that one has to think about seriously. The mines use a lot of water and the consumption by coastal towns is increasing. We have limited water resources, so in addition to all the mines coming up, I think the time has come that we should again discuss the desalination scheme. Without such a scheme, our resources might be depleted very soon and we have to prevent that from happening.
Regarding corporate social responsibility, I can say with confidence that Rössing has always been willing to support the community whenever they are approached to do so. But I would want to see Rössing concentrating more on training: not only training of their own employees, but supporting and training the communities within the suburbs. We, as a country, are faced with high unemployment; obviously, our youth are the hardest hit. I think
Rössing should come forward to support the Government in identifying what can be done to take the youth off the streets. Not to say that Rössing should employ them all – not at all: that would be totally impossible; but to come up with initiatives to engage the youth in activities that would occupy them positively.
One often heard Rössing people talking of the mine’s early years, saying, “Those were the good old days!” But the good days are back again – perhaps for the next 30 years. I would really like to see Rössing becoming much more active in helping us to get our young people off the streets and into centres of positive activities.
Education is very close to my heart and I want the Erongo Region to have the best-qualified learners and teachers in the whole country. As Governor of the Region, I started a competition amongst regional schools, giving trophies to those with the best results. I want to motivate teachers and pupils to be the best in the country. Rössing supported me in this project, sponsoring most of the trophies. These trophies were embraced by the teachers and learners alike – it was heart-warming to see their reactions. I appreciate Rössing’s support in this project, but I would really like them to be a lot more proactive in helping our unemployed young people. They should visit the schools on a regular basis, talk to the learners, tell them what it is like to work for a mine, and make them excited about the prospects of being a geologist, an engineer, an environmentalist.
Regarding HIV/AIDS, the Region has a strategic plan on HIV/AIDS. All the line ministries, non-governmental organisations and relevant institutions are represented and involved in the implementation of this plan – but I don’t see Rössing there. It’s open to everybody and we would want to have Rössing, as a major company in the Region, to become a lot more involved.
In the past few years, Rössing has focused more on supporting the town of Arandis, which is understandable. Of course, they need to support Arandis because it was started by Rössing, but the company should be flexible.
With regard to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), I fully support the initiative. However, BEE is sometimes misused, for example, where a person has the idea but not the skills. Rössing can make a big difference in BEE with training people that may be willing but they lack the know-how. Rössing should take small enterprises, and train them in exactly what is expected from them, so that these entrepreneurs can contribute to building up a strong economy instead of remaining small without any real progress.
But I think it is also important that Rössing should not just dish out money: the company should help people to learn how to look after themselves.