Picture: 123RF/ SUAT DEMIRIZ
Picture: 123RF/ SUAT DEMIRIZ

Namibia’s decision to award the lion’s share of the country’s allocation of horse mackerel to the state-owned fishing company and an Angolan partner, has drawn criticism for flouting a commitment to localise the industry and tender requirements.

Fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau granted the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) 16% of the country’s total allowable catch of 35,000 tonnes of the fish for 15 years in a deal that is potentially worth N$1.8bn ($143m). The fisheries sector is Namibia’s third-biggest contributor to GDP, after mining and agriculture.

Fishcor is partnering with Angola’s African Selection Trust SA to establish a N$350m processing plant at the coastal town of Walvis Bay. The decision has drawn criticism for excluding local firms, while the Namibian newspaper reported that the agreement was not put out for public tender as required for state-owned companies. Namsov Fishing Enterprise, a unit of Bidvest Namibia, recently announced plans to close operations after Esau slashed its quota.

Fishcor has defended Esau’s decision, saying the quota size was in line with the investment in the processing plant, which is scheduled for completion in September. Said Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya on Tuesday, "I don’t understand why we would be asked to come up with a factory that can process 70,000 to 80,000 tonnes and not have at least a sustainable guaranteed quota."