Project Desert Rose: The flip side – “5 000 jobs to be created, Erongo Governor fully supports project… ”

namib times 14-08-15


Desert Rose pic front page 14 Aug“Operation” Desert Rose is in full swing, despite resistance from some environmentalists and concerned groups.

Environmental concerns, regarding the area where this N$8 billion develop-

ment is  to be constructed, were recently aired at a public meeting in Kuisebmond, Walvis Bay. Nevertheless, the Erongo Governor, Cleophas Mutjavikua, indicated his full support regarding this massive development to namib times. Mr Mutjavikua noted that the provision of land, housing and employment currently top the government’s priority list and this development will certainly contribute immensely towards accomplishing it. “It is a very good project, and I fully support it,” Mutjavikua noted.

Based on a comprehensive feasibility study, done by Conference Link, the Namibia International Convention and Exhibition Centre (NICC), for the first two years will create 715 jobs, increasing to 884 during year one of operation.

The total number of direct and indirect jobs of the NICC alone will be 1 617 by 2021. The Desert Rose project is expected to create over 5 000 jobs during the first five years, according to Conference Link’s study. They have furthermore concluded that this project will provide the opportunity to involve many SMEs and enhance Government – Private sector relations. The cumulative contribution to taxes is set to exceed N$663 million by 2021. Indirect household income is expected to be cumulatively N$1 billion by the end of 2021 it was concluded that the NICC is economically viable. Furthermore, as per the study, the deve-

lopment will enhance Nami-bia’s international presence and it will stimulate the country’s economy and create opportunities to boost growth of all sectors in the country. It is also stated that this is a unique opportunity to create a modern icon which will draw international attention and demonstrates how a country wants to be seen by the international community. Some of the site selection requirements for an International Convention Centre is that it should be internationally accessible and should be supported by surrounding shops, restaurants, banks, entertainment, transport etc. All of this are catered for to form part of Desert Rose. Regarding the site selection criteria, it is stated that this area represents two of Namibia’s major natural features, the Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean. According to Mr Johan Cornelissen (National Environmental Health Consultants) two alternative sites are currently being scrutinised. He, however, did not want to identify it at this stage, but did note that it is also along the coastline. According to the study, neither Walvis Bay, nor Swakopmund can currently provide the required space within their CBD’s in terms of international site selection criteria.

The environmental side

The development is planned to be constructed inside a high level conservation “red zone”, within the Dorob National Park. The Dorob National Park is a protected area in Erongo, along the central Namibian coast, which is 1 600 kilometres in length. It was gazetted as a national park under the Nature Conservation Ordinance No. 4 of 1975 on 1 December 2010, and with Namib-Naukluft Park covers an area of 107 540 square kilometres.

The newspaper spoke to a renowned environmentalist, who prefers not to be named at this stage, yesterday and he noted that this is a “tricky situation.” He indicated that it is disturbing to know that the Namibian government entertains this development, although it is not in line with the vision of conservation and management of bio-

logical biodiversity along the coast and against all regulations. “It would be criminal to allow the development in this specific area,” he said. He further noted that this development will definitely have a massive impact on the country’s tourism sector, as many tourists visit Namibia for its natural beauty. Should this go through, the government will set up a future problem for themselves, because other deve-

lopers might want to do the same in other protected areas. He also expressed his concerns regarding the endangered Damara tern, remarking that it blows his mind that someone could be willing to destroy an incredible creature, which breeds on their own doorstep.

Developers’ side

The namib times also spoke to one of the developers, yesterday. According to him, some people do not understand the fact that the Dorob Park, or a portion thereof could also be de-proclaimed, just as it was proclaimed during 2010. “Walvis Bay and Swakopmund are expanding rapidly by the day and the only direction these towns can expand to is along the coastline,” he noted. He remarked that, except from the thousands of jobs which will be created, this project will attract lots more tourists to the country, which is good for the country’s economy. Regarding the area where the Centre is planned, he commented that the zone where the development will take place should be economically viable.

He concluded by noting that they as the developers are transparent and do not have anything to hide, as they only want development and growth for the Region and the country as a whole.

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