Ruacana: a cultural melting pot and investors’ paradise

Ruacana: a cultural melting pot and investors’ paradise

LOIDE JASON
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With a population of 8 000, Ruacana is famous for its waterfalls (largest in Namibia), cultural diversity and mountainous landscapes. Livestock and crop farming make Ruacana popular in the region among buyers and bulk consumers.

Ruacana is located in the Omusati Region, 65km from the regional capital, Outapi, 860km north of the capital, Windhoek, and 716km from the port of Walvis Bay. It became a settlement in the 1970s during the construction of the Ruacana hydro power station.

It was proclaimed a settlement in 1999, earned village status in 2005 and was proclaimed a town in 2010 after making notable progress in rendering and providing services to its inhabitants.

Simaneka Nendongo, Local Economic Development officer from the Ruacana Town Council, says about 40 percent of the population is Oshiwambo-speaking, with the remainder comprised of the Ovahimba, Ovazemba, Ovaherero, Aandongona, Afrikaaners and the San.

Ruacana is a flood-free area with two types of topography – sandy and rocky. It is located close to the border with Angola having two border posts – Mahenene and Ruacana.

“The nomadic Himbas and aesthetic landscape contribute to the development of tourism activities within the town, while livestock and crop production are among the key components of the economy’s growth,” says Nendongo.
Comparative and competitive advantages determine the investment opportunities following the value chain of the economy, says Nendongo, adding that physical infrastructure and livelihood upgrading play a vital role in the town.
With crime rate at 1 percent and limited to stock theft, the town is pregnant with untapped opportunities and potential.

Nendongo says the famous town also engages in agricultural activities such as livestock, crop and poultry production, feedlots, aquaculture and irrigation schemes.

Below are some products that investors, cooperatives and start-ups could invest and capitalise on.

Tourism
Nendongo says that the town has accommodation facilities and villages, tour guide operations, tracking and hiking activities, crafts and arts centres, forts and museums, and zoos and parks.

Serviced Land
Ruacana is mandated to deliver efficient and effective services to the inhabitants within the jurisdiction of Ruacana. “Council have allocated residential land for housing purposes to 1 500 beneficiaries in the formal area and 1 000 in the informal area,” explains Nendongo.

Through the build-together programme, the council has allocated or constructed 150 houses. Nendongo says that although the demand of residential land is high compared to business land, council has serviced 500 plots for business purposes.

Employment Statistics
Unemployment is a major concern countrywide and Ruacana is no exception. The unemployment rate is very high, especially among the youth population – with only 45 percent in employment.

Nendongo is quick to point out that the unemployment rate varies depending on the type of employment.
However, council – in collaboration with various stakeholders – is working tirelessly to address and reduce the unemployment challenge.

Alcohol
Namibia is rated 5th in Africa and 54 globally when it comes to alcohol consumption. The percentage of people consuming alcohol in the town is high although specific figures or percentages cannot be provided now.

Nendongo further says that the council has come up with initiatives that will address and reduce the consumption of alcohol in the town. “Consumption at certain points could be high because people have nothing to do after work or it could be that leisure and recreation amenities are absent in the town,” says Nendongo.

With a new strategic plan, which is at the formulation stage, issues pertaining to youth development and making Ruacana the tourist destination of choice are top priority on the performance objectives that council hopes to achieve.

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