… As town grows from strength to strength
OMUTHIYA is uniquely situated on the world famous Etosha Pan, along the B1 economic corridor between Tsumeb and Ondangwa.
The town was proclaimed in October 2007 and the town council was established in September 2008.
With the town undergoing rapid growth, Confidente’s Hilary Mare (HM) interviewed the town’s local economic development officer, David Israel (DI).
HM: Tell us more about the town of Omuthiya.
DI: The town is servicing a surrounding community of approximately 80 000 people. A sharp increase in the community of the town is expected with the development that is taking place, the business opportunities that are being created and the regional and municipal government jobs. The surface area of the Omuthiya town lands covers 12 497 hectares, including part of the Etosha National Park.
The main road and railway line crosses the town, resulting in ribbon type urban settlement along the road. Away from the road, agriculture is the main economic activity, with tourism becoming increasingly important, with direct access from the Etosha National Park via the King Nehale Gate.
Tourism is an important industry, and more and more international tourists include nature-based tourism into their trips. Hunting has become a growing industry.
HM: Where does the town derive its name from?
DI: Omuthiya means Camelthorn tree – a resting place for travellers and a trading place for traders. The original Omuthiya tree, next to the main road, fell down in 1976. Historically, Moses Eriki, a contractor, constructed a table and chairs under the tree, to serve as a resting place for road users. It was also used as trading spot, where villagers traded their goods (including food, weapons and crafts). Cattle herders also used the tree for resting and trading. After the mysterious falling down of the tree, meetings and resting in Omuthiya town (the big tree) continued.
HM: What are the investment opportunities in Omuthiya?
DI: There are a lot of investment opportunities in Omuthiya town that potential investors could investigate the possibility of investing in. These include manufacturing, agriculture, travel and tourism, shopping malls/complexes, aquaculture and property development. It is very important for potential investors to note that, as a new town and the capital of Oshikoto region, Omuthiya is growing fast and its population is expected to grow drastically, with the developments that are taking place, therefore increasing the purchasing power of the town.
HM: What would you say is your competitive advantage?
DI: Our competitive advantage as a town is our close proximity to the Etosha National Park, our close proximity to the salt pan, underground water sources, good gravel materials, springbok and other wildlife, railway infrastructure and being a flood-free area.
Omuthiya town benefits from the decentralisation policy of the Government of the Republic of Namibia, and hence it was declared the regional capital of Oshikoto, upon proclamation. This means that all regional offices of government institutions in Oshikoto are relocating to Omuthiya, in an effort to decentralise services. This will in return attract investors of all kinds. Over the short period that the council has been in existence, the town has attracted investments such as retail shops, banks, and insurance organisations, medical services, lodges and guest houses, general residential facilities, just to mention a few.
HM: What are the key developments in the pipeline?
DI: The Omuthiya Town Council has planned a modern central business district (CBD) that will look like no other in northern Namibia. In view of this, the council has created Extension 6 along the B1 Road (Omuthiya main road). The council has developed a concept design of the CBD, and once Extension 6 is fully serviced, investors will be required to construct structures that are more or less similar to the CBD concept design. The area demarcated for the CBD, Extension 6, is currently being serviced through a public-private partnership agreement between the Omuthiya Town Council and Preferred Management System. The Omuthiya Town Council handed over the site (Extension 6) to the contractor Kongom Trading earlier this year, and servicing commenced soon thereafter.
HM: What would you like to say to potential investors?
DI: Despite the national challenge of urban serviced land delivery, the Omuthiya Town Council is working hard and smart in ensuring that serviced land for residential and business purposes is made available. This is being done through projects such as the current servicing the Omuthiya Extensions 6 and 8. The other project, the envisaged planning of the Okashana Wetland, popularly known as Othithiya by many, is expected to avail land for business and residential purposes in the not so distant future. I would, therefore, like to send a message to the potential investors that have ideas of projects, such as a major one-stop mall, tourist establishments, private schools, medical centres, manufacturing plants and urban agriculture, to forward their applications to the Omuthiya Town Council for consideration. These are some of the key areas that council is keen to develop.
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