City on the move: Otjiwarongo, Namibia

Otjiwarongo, Namibia

About 250km north of Namibia’s capital city Windhoek, lies Otjiwarongo, a town that has enjoyed rapid population growth in recent years.

It is a municipality that offers opportunities to entrepreneurs who can provide services and products required by young people flocking to the town in the hope of securing employment in mining, says Eben Ngula, founder of African Grain Millers.

African Grain Millers is an agribusiness company based in Ondangwa that produces flour from the millet grain. Ngula has recently acquired shelf space in some of the retailers in Otjiwarongo for his product and sees great growth potential for this sales channel.

“Over the past few years, some mines have opened in the area around Otjiwarongo. Whenever mines open in Namibia, people from all over move to the area in search of employment,” he says.

The B2Gold Otjikoto mine near Otjiwarongo provides employment opportunities for residents of the town. In March of 2020, the Namibian Government broke ground for a new charcoal factory, financed by the Finnish Government, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and the Baobab Growth Fund.

Ngula believes an entrepreneur or investor who addresses the needs of the growing population – specifically in retail, transport or housing development – will be successful.

There is potential in the area of affordable housing, in particular. According to Ngula, the country needs entrepreneurs to develop innovative methods for the construction of climate-appropriate housing for low- and middle-income earners, as the property market in Namibia is very expensive. “I have seen some companies claim they offer this solution, but nothing yet has achieved large-scale success,” he says.