March is Namibia's independence month, a month to celebrate and take stock of what has transpired since the country's freedom, be it politically or economically.

Independence does not only mean gaining freedom from colonial oppressors; it also means freeing the country's economy by creating a conducive environment for business operations, be it for local or foreign investors to compete on an equal footing.

The Chairperson of Team Namibia's Board says independence has created the right climate and conditions for the use and consumption of local products.

Sidney Hanstein says since independence there has been an increase in the availability, consumption, and manufacturing of Namibian products and services.

"In 1990, if you walked into a shop, you would find imported goods on the shelves; maybe only 0–5% are Namibian. However, if you go now to any major retailer, you will find about 5 to 20% of Namibian products in those shops. Independence has created the right climate and the right conditions for companies and consumers to enjoy Namibian goods. Before independence, we had no mandate, but after independence, we have the mandate to get our country sustainable."

Team Namibia was founded about twenty years ago. It is a member-based, non-profit organization aimed at mobilizing Namibian consumers to buy local as well as promoting the production of quality local products.

"Team Namibia is really mandated by its members to make sure the public is aware of Namibian products and makes sure to purchase and consume not only products but services."

Through the efforts of Team Namibia, members are likely to benefit from local consumer awareness with the intention of increasing their sales volumes and capturing a larger share of the market with access to brand-loyal consumers that actively seek out and buy quality local products and services.

"Team Namibia has a total base of 100 members at this stage, and some are active but not all of them. Team Namibia has at least 20 active members that are fully paid up, and some of them are multinational corporations with other companies under them. For example, one of our members is the O&L Group."

This year, Team Namibia is running a campaign aimed at celebrating Namibia's 33 years of independence.

"I believe independence day is a day to be celebrated by all Namibians, and it's on this day that we really want to get the message across that we are a team. We do have a competition running where we are asking Namibians to congratulate the country and see who does the best congratulation on Namibia Independence Day, and they will win a hamper with Namibian local products."

Hanstein urged Namibians to support local products and local businesses to expand the country's economy.

"Sometimes you might walk into a shop and find that the Namibian product is slightly more expensive, and that is only because it costs our local producers to produce more for this product than the mass production of items imported into the country, so Namibians should remember if you pay 5 dollars more you are paying for the salary of 100s of Namibians."



July Nafuka