By Rosalia David
January - February 2016
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The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) is on course to complete the rehabilitation and upgrading of the country’s airports infrastructure by 2017, Prime Focus Magazine understands.

Some of the airports which will get a facelift include the Hosea Kutako International Airport, Mpacha airport, Ondangwa airport and the Eros airport.

Face-lifting of the country’s ports of entries is viewed as one of the major drivers of attracting tourists to the country at a time when Government has been keen to improve the sector in a bid to earn foreign currency and create jobs.

The Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4) has targeted tourism as one of the pillars of economic growth and a potential creator of employment. This notion has made the need to have the latest standards at the country’s airports a priority.

Government confirmed last year that about N$200 billion is needed to improve infrastructure in the country, including the roads network as well as rail and airports’ infrastructure.

Speaking to this publication, NAC International Standard’s Strategic Executive Toska Sem says “our strategic priority areas are aligned to Vision 2030.

We aim by 2017 to rehabilitate five airports to improve the level of compliance to national and international standards, and upgrade three airports to meet capacity requirements”.

“Ultimately, once those projects are achieved, NAC will have contributed its part of Vision 2030 by providing modern infrastructure as one of the basic enablers to facilitate and support the economic priorities in logistics and tourism”, he adds.

“The initiatives put in place for 2016 will only start bearing fruits in the coming years, but in our revised internal structure, we have a dedicated Business Strategy Unit which is now looking specifically at the needs of our strategic customers and stakeholders, which also allows us to be closer to the customers and stakeholders as well as getting us to understand their challenges and needs, and address them as expeditiously as we can within our limited resources”, Sem stated.

NAC also aims to implement the strategic priority in areas identified in their strategic plan 2014-2017.

“We will continue the implementation of the safety and security compliance activities with the licensing of the Ondangwa and Eros airports.

We anticipate the completion of the passenger terminal at Walvis Bay and the rehabilitation of the runway at Ondangwa. We will also similar rehabilitation projects at Eros and the regional airports”, he added.

The NAC has in the past faced challenges in the tendering system associated with the construction and upgrading of the country’s airports, resulting in the president cancelling a N$7b tender awarded to a Chinese company without following the laid-down procedures.

 “Space is definitely required in order to increase our offerings of services to passengers at the airports.

In this regard, we have reorganized the departure area at the Hosea Kutako International Airport to improve the flow of passengers through the security checks and immigration,” he continued.

Sem adds that “there is also limited capacities of the infrastructure at the airports in terms of passenger

Although he believes that the transport and logistics’ sector in Namibia has been affected by the overall international volatile economic environment, they are “as an airport operator rather at the receiving end, and can only do our small part to support our customers’ airlines and stakeholders by continuing to provide the facilities and logistics they need for their services”.

Sem believes that the aviation industry is heavily- regulated, both internationally and nationally.
“The regulation covers the technical standards, but also governs the way we set tariffs for services.
However, there is room for improvement when it comes to attracting new airlines. In the current framework, the airports’ company cannot approach potential customers’ airlines to promote its airports and expedite the development of new air routes to and from Namibia“, he says.

Sem explains that “we accomplished our 2014 strategic plan in improving areas related to safety and security compliance, expansion and modernization of the airport infrastructure, maintenance of infrastructure and equipment, revenue growth and new organizational structure”.

“In 2015, we made progress in all of those areas, and in particular the opening of a new passenger terminal at Ondangwa, as well as the rearrangements of the passenger departure area at the Hosea Kutako International Airport”, he notes.

The NAC has also managed to complete the acquisition of new security equipment, which was deployed through all the airports.

“In 2015, we have also successfully completed the licensing of the Hosea Kutako International Airport and the Walvis Bay airport in conformity with national and international aviation standards, and internally, the implementation of the new structure which will ultimately help us serve better our customers and stakeholders’’, Sem says.

“We have also completed the acquisition of new Security equipment which were deployed through all the airports.”

NAC has also opened up a new terminal at the airport in Ondangwa.

Sem also states that on 30 September 2015,NAC handed over N$300 000 to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to attend the Colmar SITV International Tourism and Travel Fair 2015 in France, where Namibia was the guest of honour.

“This initiative is a direct step towards building sustainable capacity, as it will be the foundation upon which the Namibian tourism industry will grow and contribute to the nation long after the event.

In support of women in business and leadership empowerment, we also contributed towards the Empowering and Mentoring Women in Leadership 2015 Conference, hosted by the Southern Times newspaper and the Namibia Economist’s Namibian Businesswoman of the Year awards 2015 with an amount of N$15 000 and N$12 000, respectively”, he states.