MCA-N in US$300 million construction programme

THE property sector in Namibia is set to receive a shot in the arm following the proposed construction of two Regional Study and Resource Centres (RSRC’s) in Helao Nafidi and Oshakati as well as the renovation of additional infrastructure at 10 schools in the country’s northern region.

The development falls under the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) Compact that makes provision for grant funding of public investments in education, tourism and agriculture.

Under this five year development programme, the compact will make available a total US$304.5 million for development in these target sectors all inclusive over and above the present Government allocations and assistance from other development partners.

This was revealed by MCA-N Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Penny Akwenye, as she announced to Prime Focus, the opening of tenders for the construction and development of the projects.

She said once on board, the company that wins the bid is expected to commence work from June 2011 and the bids are open for sectors such as renovation, masonry work, roof construction, carpentry and joinery, plumbing, electrical work and other miscellaneous work.

Of the total allocated amount, education will receive the largest portion with a total US$145 million and is expected to go a long way in boosting the aspirations of the Vision 2030 as well as the third National Development Plan’s (NDP) strategic objectives which seek to improve on the accessibility of information through libraries in view of the present low literacy levels in the country.

The project will construct approximately three RSRCs in underserved areas in an effort to improve access to documentation, information resources, training materials and programs, as well as study facilities.

She also added that technical assistance and training will be provided for the RSRCs staff.

“This activity will improve vocational and skills training through the establishment of a National Training Fund within the Namibia Training Authority. This includes funding of priority projects including tourism training, construction and renovation of approximately nine Community Based Skills Development Centres (COSDECs),” said Akwenye.

The major project is the construction of the library in the northern part of the country.

The fruition of the projects will expand access to tertiary education through assisting the Ministry of Education in its efforts to establish a sustainable and more accessible tertiary and technical education finance system.

Akwenye further said the project will commit at least US$67 million aimed at supporting three priority activities to improve the management and infrastructure of Etosha National Park (ENP).

“This is the first time the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has had an explicit focus on tourism and we expect it to go a long way in facilitating access to the ENP for the conservancies around it through exclusive access concessions that will be awarded through the 2007 Concession Policy,” said Akwenye.

The MCA hopes it will enhance the marketing of Namibia’s tourism and develop the capacity of communal conservancies to attract investments in eco-tourism as well as capture a greater share of the revenue generated by tourism.

She added that together, these activities will increase incomes and create employment opportunities for some of the poorest populations in Namibia, while preserving natural resources that serve as the base for the tourism industry.

Moving onto the agriculture front which is one of the beneficiary sectors from this initiative, the MCA-N has committed a total US$47 million which will comprise three main activities in livestock, land access and management as well as indigenous natural products.

“The livestock activity will seek to bring the marketing opportunities for farmers who live north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence closer to the opportunities farmers enjoy south of the Fence. The accompanying public investment in range-land management will improve access to grazing and farming practices. The overall objective is to increase farmer’s income derived from livestock and small stock farming in the NCA,” Akwenye noted.

She highlighted that the MCA-N is a five year programme officially launched in September 2009 with the aim of completing all the proposed MCA projects by September 2014 and that commencement of some projects has been backtracked by the procurement as at times it would not have been finalised.

The program is wholly funded by the United States of America (USA) having emanated from a proposal by the Namibian Government for assistance in some selected areas that needed development in 2006. Thus the organisation falls under the Government’s National Planning Commission department.

However, the MCA-N seeks to complement Government efforts in the development of infrastructure as well as implementation of some programmes for the betterment of the future generations of Namibia.

To this, Akwenye adds, the MCA-N is committed to fulfilling its obligation and will spend the whole allocation of funds amounting to US$304.5 million..

“These projects are expected to increase competence of the Namibian workforce (knowledge, skills and attitude) as well as increase the productivity of agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises in rural areas.

“The compact aims to improve the quality of education and training for underserved populations and attempts to capitalise on Namibia’s comparative advantages to increase the incomes of poor Namibians, predominantly in the northern areas of the country,” she added.

The MCA-N recently held site visits to its various projects to familiarize the bidders with the site conditions.

“We have also held pre-bid meetings in order to give the bidders an opportunity to ask MCA-N any procurement or technical questions relating to this tender. The bidders will be selected based on compliance with tender conditions, price, and qualification to perform the works available at hand,” said the MCA-N Chief.”