Namibia's military enters the construction business

2014-09-25 23:04

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Windhoek - Namibia's military has created a construction company that will compete for contracts with the private sector, part of a growing commercial network that has drawn criticism.

"We want to compete with others," the firm's first managing director Colonel John Namoloh told AFP, saying the company would not limit itself to army contracts.

The firm, dubbed August 26 UBM Construction and inaugurated earlier this week, is the ninth subsidiary of the military's commercial wing, which also has interests in the defence, textile, satellite, catering, logistics and insurance sectors.

The creation of the firm has sparked criticism from business and from those who suspect the Namibian army may be trying to mimic its Egyptian counterpart, which has gained power and wealth through a vast network of businesses.

Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Chief Executive Tarah Shaanika questioned why the military wanted to become involved in a sector that has adequate private investment.

"The economy is too small to have strong state players as well as strong private players," said Shaanika.

"In general, the construction, logistics and telecommunications industries have been adequately serviced by the private sector."

"This can create a monopoly... there is a danger of unfair preference when the state company competes for a contract with private companies," he warned.

Shaanika suggested the government should instead invest in sectors such as agriculture, energy and manufacturing.

Read more on:    namibia  |  southern africa

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