Our businesses are dying – local vendors

Lucia Iipumbu

Industrialisation and trade minister Lucia Iipumbu says the issue of street vendors from Angola selling their products at northern towns would not be resolved until the two states sign a trade agreement.

This comes after vendors operating at the Oshakati open market told the minister last week that Angolan street vendors are crippling their businesses.

Iipumbu engaged the vendors during a regional consultation meeting on the special economic zone bill, national informal economy, start-ups an entrepreneurship development policy and Namibia investment promotion and facilitation regulations.

“We currently do not have a trade agreement with Angola. That is why this problem will persist,” she said.

There are also no regulations in place or tariffs to charge Angolan merchants, therefore their products have no fixed prices, she said.

“This issue has caused us many problems, because there is no consistency. They sell anything because they are not charged,” Iipumbu said.

Once the two states enter into trade agreements and regulations, tariffs would regulate prices and the situation, she said.

“They are our brothers and sisters. We cannot disown them. They helped us during our liberation struggle.”

Iipumbu, however, said the street vendors operating at different towns are unknown because they are not registered.

“Nobody has any record of them,” she said.

The minister said street vendors cannot be subjected to the registration processes of the Business and Intellectual Property Authority, because it is too costly for them.

“These are people who need to be taken care of. At some point we may think of putting up open markets for them, but where do we start? Nobody knows them,” she said.

Iipumbu said street vendors need to be capacitated to attract more customers.

She said the ministry wants to assist registered and trained small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and vendors through its equipment aid scheme.


Although the Oshakti Town Council has allowed Angolan merchants to trade from Monday to Friday only, they still roam alongside roads and at shopping malls.

Emilia Herman, a vendor operating from the Oshakati Open Market, said local informal traders’ enterprises are failing because they are not protected by the state.

She said Angolan merchants have been selling products that should be sold exclusively by local traders.

As a result, many vendors have been forced to close their businesses, Herman said.

“People do not want to buy our products any more, because these Angolans are everywhere. They are even selling mahangu flour instead of millet grain, resulting in mahangu grinder owners closing down.”

Herman claimed merchants sell hazardous flour with foreign particles.

Vendor Simon Hangula said tenders are always given to the same people.

He said SME grants advertised by the trade ministry to be obtained from banks never materialise as the banks’ requirements are too strict.

“We can’t meet them. Tenders are given to the same person, and there is no reason given as to why I was rejected. Many are even given to unqualified tenderpreneurs who end up subcontracting qualified ones.”

Lucia Hamukoto said she has never won a bid despite meeting the requirements.

“The same people keep getting the tenders over and over,” she said.

Hamukoto believes Angolan vendors should be limited to provide opportunities for local vendors.

“They are overtaking our local businesses. They walk freely in our streets and don’t get chased like us Namibians.”

Angolan embassy press attaché Julia Goncalves said she was unable to comment due to unforeseen circumstances. She requested that questions be sent to her, however, she did not respond by the time of going to print.

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