By Timo Shihepo
Windhoek – After many years of operating at a loss, the national Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) is now making a profit, thanks largely to its 50,000 metric tons (mt) of horse mackerel quota guaranteed by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
The parastatal, which has made a combined R54 million loss between 2009 and 2014, has now made a combined R145 million net profit for the years between 2015 and 2017, as part of its turnaround strategy.
As part of the turnaround strategy, introduced in 2014 by new management headed by the chief operating officer, Mike Nghipunya, the company is constructing a fish (horse mackerel) processing facility in Walvis Bay at a budget of R530 million. The facility is part of a newly established company under Fishcor, called Seaflower Pelagic Processing.
Fishcor’s partner, African selection Trust (AST), which owns 60% of the facility invested R370 million of the R530 million. The other R160 million contributed by Fishcor was used to buy Etale properties in 2016 – where the on-shore facility is being constructed. The R370 million is for demolishing, construction and refrigeration.
The factory complex will include a cannery and fishmeal plant and its earmarked to employ approximately 700 employees (70% women) once completed in September. The facility will have two refrigerated seawater vessels.
Once completed, the factory has the capacity to process more than 70,000mt of fish per year and since Fishcor has a guaranteed 50,000mt, it will use additional space to make extra income by handling fish from other companies, which do not have enough space at their facilities.
Addressing the media at the construction site last week, Nghipunya said the turnaround strategy is still ongoing and even though they have been recording profit in recent years they expect to only make sustainable profit after five years.
“The current management came in at a time when the company was struggling financially. We sat down and looked at what we needed to do and realised that the company’s mandate was not followed to the core,” he said.
Part of Fishcor’s mandate is to provide for the formation of the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia Limited, a company with the object of exploiting the fish and other marine resources.
“Yes, the 50,000 mt quota of horse mackerel guarantee by the ministry has made a difference (between the current management’s operations and that of the previous) but the difference is that the current management is investing in projects that are generating money for the company,” said Nghipunya.
Nghipunya said when they assumed responsibilities, they found most of the company’s equipment just idling.
“If you want to succeed you cannot afford to have machines that are not working. It is because if this reason that the new facility will be a 24-hour operation. If your machines are idling, bills, especially electricity, would continue to go up, while not being productive.”
While Namibia is the priority market, the company will export the horse mackerel to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Botswana and will also look at new markets such as Malawi, Lesotho, and Zambia, among others.
“With horse mackerel, Namibia is a priority. We want to create businesses out of this business by empowering local people to start their own businesses.
“Our job is to make sure that we constantly supply these people and where they sell we do not care as long as they make a living out of it,” said Nghipunya.
Nghipunya added that the new facility upon completion will be the biggest factory of pelagic processing in sub-Sahara Africa.
Fishcor was founded on 27 December 1991 – 100% owned by the government. It has several subsidiary companies such as Seaflower Lobster Corporation, Seaflower Whitefish Corporation, and Seacope Freezer.