… Investment Conference and Uranium Festival slated for November
THE 2017 edition of the Arandis Investment Conference and Uranium Festival is scheduled to take place from 10 to 11 November in Arandis.
The event will be held under the theme ‘Arandis, the Hot-Spot for Renewable Energy and IT solutions’, with the Investment Conference taking place on 10 November and the Uranium Festival being held the next day.
The town has also announced that the fundraising Gala Dinner and Summer Ball will be held on October 28 in Windhoek.
Arandis Town Council Chief Executive Officer, Florida Husselmann (FH) sat down with Confidente’s Hilary Mare (HM) recently, and shared the town’s difficult road to success.
HM: Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing, education and past employment?
FH: I was born on the 18 October 1969 in Rehoboth, the youngest of 12 children (10 daughters and two brothers). My father passed away when I was four, and my mom raised us on her own, while always reminding us that it is only education, ethics, hard work and strong spiritual principles that will help us achieve our purpose in life. I did my schooling in Rehoboth, up to Dr Lemmer High School, and obtained my Diploma in Urban Management at the University of Namibia (Unam). I started my career at the Swakopmund Municipality during 1992 and joined the Erongo Regional Council in 1996, where I worked for four years, until joining the Arandis Town Council in 2000.
HM: When did you take over as Arandis Town Council CEO and what have been some of the challenges and success so far?
FH: I was officially appointed as CEO in December 2001 and have to date completed three successful five-year terms. A fourth was granted to me, effective from 1 December 2016 until December 2021.
The biggest challenge is that as a woman, I am working in a perceived male-dominated field. It was initially quite challenging and scary. Also, at time Arandis was experiencing a downward trend in terms of economic growth. Talk that it would become a ghost town frightened investors and people moved out, believing that it had no future, beyond the closure of the mine. There was a serious exodus of people out of the town, especially during 2002 until 2004, and most houses were abandoned and left empty.
Financial institutions moved out, the only service station closed down and the residents were forced to use their extra funds to travel to Swakopmund, to attend to their business activities, and thus the economy of the town became stagnant.
God’s favour and my ability to rise above challenges, kept me positive, despite criticism and negativity. In our institution we have always operated as a team, and together with our stakeholders like the community, mines and the foundations, we embarked the development of a turnaround strategy, which resulted in the successful implementation of two five-year strategic plans. These plans brought about the following notable achievements:
•The Creation of six new townships and the expansion of the Arandis town boundaries (resulting in 1 300 mixed erven, open spaces and streets);
•The presence of the Puma Arandis Services Station;
•The presence of banks (branches operating fulltime); and
•The promotion of the council’s vision of turning the town into an industrialised hub and a centre of educational excellence and tourism, through SME development and educational Development.
HM: What are your responsibilities as CEO?
FH: I am responsible for the day to day administration of the council’s affairs, the execution of council decisions, the promotion and implementation of the council’s strategic intent/plans and providing legal/financial advice, when decisions are to be made in respect of the town’s development.
HM: What is your vision for the town?
FH: My vision for the town is continuous growth and transformation from a Town Council to a Part 2 Municipality.
HM: Tell us a bit about your executive team.
FH: My executive team comprises of technical, financial and corporate support, and we operate on the basis of interdependency. Each member of my team brings a unique skill and competence to the institution, and they understand and share the vision of the council.
HM: What is the town council’s budget for the current financial year?
FH: Our budget is estimated at N$65 million for the 2017/18 financial year and we hope to achieve it through the sale of land and promotion of our three strategic areas, i.e. industrialisation, education and tourism.
HM: What are some of the key projects in the pipeline?
FH: We will be hosting our 4th Investment Conference on the 10th and 11th of November 2017, while marketing our favourable conditions for renewable energy and ICT solutions.
We are also busy with affordable housing solutions and finalising the servicing of 228 residential properties. All of these initiatives will contribute to a spike in the population rate of the town, which in turn will bring new and exciting dynamics and opportunities to the town, as well as increase our revenue base.
We hope to see the realisation of the 120HfO Power Plant Hybrid with 50MW solar energy and we remain positive that this project will bring much-needed economic growth and employment creation to the town.
Council has also allocated land for the following projects:
i)Food production (agricultural)
ii)An electric cabling manufacturing plant
iii)A medical university hospital
iv)Residential development (affordable housing solutions)
v)A data farm
vi)An Emergency Response and Traffic Management Centre next to the B2
vii)A Road Safety Park
HM: The town has grown dramatically over the past years. Can you give us some examples of this?
FH: Arandis is proud to say that residents don’t need to travel to Swakopmund to do basic shopping anymore. We have a shopping mall with a U-Save, Style, Pep Stores, FNB and Standard Bank as anchor tenants. We have a Woermann & Brock store. We have a Bank Windhoek branch, Erongo RED office (newly constructed), bed and breakfast facilities, bungalows to offer overnight accommodation, residential dwellings, a Mathematics and Science Centre, an AIMS Hospitality Training Institute (accredited by the NQA) and Extension 7 is fully serviced and comprises of 100 erven, which are now in the process of being developed (the construction of houses). We are busy with the servicing of an additional 228 erven in Extension 5. A 3MW Solar Power Plant is generating power for Erongo RED.
HM: Can you tell us about the growth of the Arandis Investment Conference over the years?
FH: The decision to host the Arandis Investment Conference was a deliberate attempt to promote investment opportunities that the town has to offer. Our first conference was merely an introduction of Arandis to the rest of Namibia, as many people were still linking the town with the Rössing Mine, and in a way promoting that dependency on mining as the sole economic activity for Arandis. After the first conference, Arandis became a household name and its identity of wanting to become a self-sustainable town was well-known and supported. The second conference focused on finding financial solutions for sustainable development initiatives, and after this conference, FNB opened a branch, the Standard Bank agency became a fully operational branch and financial institutions resolved to support funding options for property development. The third conference addressed the industrialisation opportunities of the town and Arandis created a logistics hub next to the B2, which is ready to be taken up by logistics service providers and storage and warehousing entities. This is also to support Namibia’s goal of becoming a logistics hub within SADC.
HM: What is the strategic intent behind the expo and how has it helped the town over the years?
FH: The strategic intent was to create awareness and offer a platform where all types of investors come together, share information and network. This was a learning curve for local SME’s, as well as visiting exhibitors, who afterwards approached the council for investment opportunities.
The expo also gave the town’s residents the pride to host activities and be part of the social cohesion created during and after such events. The council benefited through the expo, to make its strategic intent known, positioning itself as a town of choice and soliciting support from its stakeholders.
HM: What will be some of the highlights this year and how has the town council ensured that this year will be bigger and better than ever?
FH: This year we will be promoting opportunities for renewable energy and ICT solutions and we have invited experts in these industries to speak at the conference. There will also be a site visit to the newly constructed 3MW Solar Power Plant in Arandis. We also are also planning a media conference, Gala Dinner and Summer Ball that will be hosted in the City of Windhoek. Arandis is strategically situated, in terms of road, rail and air, and outside of the rust belt. Its proximity to the WACS Cable makes it ideal to promote IT solutions, and second to Kokerboom in the South, is absolutely favourable for renewable energy projects.
HM: How many businesses/stalls are involved?
FH: We have invited all the different sectors to participate in the Conference and Festival and hope to attract a large number thereof, such as the mining, fishing, it, renewable energy, industrial, logistics, infrastructure, residential and many more. Our local investors and SMEs will also be part of the conference to share their experiences in doing business in Arandis, as well as to promote their respective products and services.
HM: How is the town council facilitating private-public partnerships (PPPs), and what PPPs are currently underway in the town and which PPPs are planned going forward?
FH: Arandis has always prided itself on establishing development partnerships to achieve its goals and objectives. With the New PPP Act, Act 4 of 2017, the town council will be following the guidelines of the Act to implement PPPs.
HM: What are some of the backlogs, in terms of housing and other municipal services that you are currently addressing?
FH: Sufficient funds to service land remains one of our biggest challenges, and with the current economic situation, one is forced to look at innovative ways to ensure serviced land is delivered. The waiting list for housing and land is increasing daily and the council does forward planning and has introduced housing initiatives to address this concern.
HM: How is the municipality being innovative, in terms of thriving amid the current economic crisis in the country?
FH: When sound relationships and partnerships are fostered with key partners, one needs not suffer in silence. Support and cooperation between the local authorities within Erongo is one of the mediums used to overcome technical challenges. The council is also in the process of twinning with the Henties Bay Municipality, to cooperate on identified and mutually agreed upon areas. This will result in a win-win and the sharing of expertise and resources across the two towns.
Partnerships with the mines, especially Rössing, Husab and AREVA remain pivotal in assisting the council to achieve its objectives. We must at all times remain positive and professional and keep our focus on the goal; this is our way of overcoming this economic crisis. We plan better, seek the low-hanging fruit, cut costs where needed, invest where a return on investment will yield fruit, keep personal agendas away from the institution’s operations and deliver on our mandate.
Arandis is on the move, and it is our hope that people will seize the opportunities and join us in building a sustainable and prosperous town.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015