Shifeta’s desert deal to cut NWR’s income by N$175m

Pohamba Shifeta

The state-controlled Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) will lose N$175 million as a result of minister of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta’s decision to award a private company a 25-year contract to transport tourists into the Namib Desert.

Shifeta’s decision to give the deal to an outfit owned by one Heiko Dorgeloh has also been criticised by some affected communities which say they have not been consulted and that the contract should be cancelled.

Shifeta awarded a concession to About Africa.Co, trading as About Adelt Sossusvlei Management, which is set to gain a minimum of around N$250 million in 25 years to guide travellers in the renowned Sossusvlei area.

The concession will also give the private company the right to operate a campsite, conduct guided hiking trails and develop and operate a kiosk in the area.

Shifeta’s decision has left the national tourism company, NWR, complaining about possible financial losses.

According to NWR managing director Matthias Ngwangwama, the state-owned company generated N$12 million per year from the concession before Covid-19 struck and N$7 million after the pandemic.

Ngwangwama last week said NWR is unhappy with the ministry’s decision and has still not officially been informed of it.
“We came to be aware of the matter on social media,” he said.

According to Ngwangwama, the concession was a significant source of income for NWR.

“No business would be happy losing income. Now we may have to redeploy resources, including the workforce to other sites,” he said.

Two years ago, The Namibian reported that Shifeta handpicked a company owned by Swapo-aligned businessman Laban Kandume to transport travellers to the Sossusvlei area of the Namib Desert, a decision which was later shelved.

Kandume supported Shifeta’s failed bid for the Swapo vice presidency.

The concession was subsequently advertised in various newspapers in November last year, and handed over to About Africa.Co. in January this year.

This comes after Teofilus Nghitila, the executive director of environment, forestry and tourism, informed NWR in 2020 that it would no longer have the exclusive rights to transport tourists to Sossusvlei.

Heiko Dorgeloh


The concession is located in the Namib-Naukluft National Park and is earmarked to benefit the Karkhoen and Maltahöhe communities in the Hardap region.

According to Nghitila, the contract signed by Shifeta was awarded by the two communities.

Documents seen by The Namibian, however, show that the Maltahöhe community is unhappy with the lack of consultation.

A letter dated 26 March, written by Benno Isaaks on behalf of the Maltahöhe community, said the community was surprised by Shifeta1s deal with About Africa.Co.

They specifically questioned the involvement of Hardap governor Salomon April.

According to the letter, the governor held a meeting on 22 October 2023, during which he introduced a group of people to the community.

“According to our understanding, he selected the team from people who were performing work on a public road in the Maltahöhe village to work with him on a tourism-related concession for the Maltahöhe community.

“Several questions were asked during the meeting, however, to our surprise, without any of the concerns being addressed by the governor and his selected individuals, it was reported through the official Facebook page of the governor, that the concession partnership agreement has been signed on behalf of the Maltahöhe community through the office of the governor.

“It is not clear with us to whom this agreement was signed, apart from the aforementioned report on facebook on 16 February 2024 which states that the founder of About Africa.Co has signed the agreement for a shuttle service concession,” the documents says.

According to the letter, the governor selected individuals as board members without the community’s consent.

“Under circumstances of good faith, the community should have determined their own representation with guidance from experienced and professional individuals in government and civil society . . .

“We would like the governor to provide proof of the community’s consent. If not, the partnership agreement with the private sector should be nullified,” the letter reads.


Hardap governor Salomon April denied allegations of a lack of consultation.

He said the community member making the allegations is “not relevant to the matter”.

“He is a non-factor . . . and he chose not to participate, so he should not come and complain that the community was not involved. The concession is an initiative from me and the two communities together,” he said last week.

April said the project is community driven.

“Many people in the community are going to benefit from jobs,” he said.

The chairperson of the disputed Maltahöhe Community Development Forum, Priscilla Blaauw, expressed the same sentiments.
“The fight is for personal and political interest, and not based on community interest.

“The accusations are not true. We are working step by step with the community as normal and we are transparent as representatives of the community, and we will not tolerate the accusations,” she said.

Ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said he would address the concerns raised by the community and provide a response.



According to Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa) records, About Africa.Co is not yet registered as a company, but its name has been reserved.

About Africa. Co owner Heiko Dorgeloh last week said nothing was irregular regarding the registration of his company.

“The registration was done in the name of our company, Grow Namibia CC T/A About Africa CO, a fully owned close corporation, duly registered with Bipa and incorporated under the laws of Namibia and also in good standing with Namra, the Social Security Commission and our banking institution.

“As per the request for a proposal document, the successful bidder would be required to form a dedicated company for this project.

“Based on this, the name reservation for a special purpose vehicle company was duly lodged with Bipa prior to the submission date to showcase our compliance with this section.

“Having been successful in our bid, the company registration and finalisation was instructed to our auditors and has been concluded.

“Feedback to the registration was reverted twofold, once for the Sossusvlei concession and once for the concessions at Bwabwata National Park by the ministry, with confirmation of our registrations, as well as the providing of relevant information pertaining to the requests.”

Dorgeloh said the concession is a stepping stone within the Namibian tourism industry.

Meanwhile, Nghitila said the company’s registration during the awarding process was not a prerequisite.

“The request was that you can form a company and you can still be eligible for the award,” he said.

He said the concession was agreed upon by the communities and About Africa. Co, not by the ministry.

“The concession works in different ways. Firstly, the minister awards a tender directly, secondly, the minister awards the tender to the community and the community awards the tender, which happened in this instance because the concession is aiming at benefiting the community,” he said.

Shifeta last month told The Namibian all the processes were followed in awarding About Africa Co. the tender.

He denied allegations that the tender was not advertised.

“There is no tender we don’t advertise. That is not true. We cannot do that. The only thing that can be given without advertisement is the unsolicited one, which is a different way of advertising without calling the bidder, so how do you call the bidder if you do not advertise?” he asked.

This story was produced by The Namibian’s investigative unit. Send us story tips via your secure email to

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