Towns and other local authorities in Namibia must be innovative and creative and find ways to make money instead of just relying on money from their residents.

This was said by the Deputy Executive Director of the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises Ms Louise Shixwameni.

Shixwameni was responding to a question from one official of the Oniipa Town Council, a small town in Oshikoto Region.

The official wanted to know what could be done in helping those local authorities which are struggling due to the high debts incurred by local residents who have consumed water and electricity without having the money to pay for the services.

In response Shixwameni said that she has observed that Namibia’s local authorities are not doing enough to ensure that they are self-sustainable.

“Towns must be innovative and find ways to make money other than from residents,” Shixwameni said a fortnight ago in Oshakati at an engagement to discuss the Public Enterprises Ownership Policy.

The engagement had attracted more than 50 people who represented local authorities, youth associations and non-governmental organisations from Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Oshana regions.

“In other countries when a town is started, it is not depended on residents. All you need is a CBD (central business district), and you leave the surrounding rural areas as they are. If the people are farmers they will start supplying the town’s CBD with dairy products and agricultural products. And that is how the town’s economy grows.”

Instead, she said, local towns have been selfishly forcing people to be residents of the towns even when the people cannot afford to live in a town.

“The town [officials] go around for distances of kilometres and take over the whole land. The poor villagers only find themselves as residents of the town but they don’t have jobs and money to pay for the municipal services. So what do you expect?”

Shixwameni also said that towns and local businesses must work together with public enterprises in creating a vibrant local economy.

“Invite PEs. If they are not responding, give us feedback. They are there to serve you. And if PEs are really killing your businesses, let us know. But you must be ready to take over those industries [where PEs operate].”

In the photo: Finance and Public Enterprises deputy executive director Ms Louise Shixwameni making a point.