The MoA involves the transfer of all municipal services, assets, sales of land and existing improvements to the town council from Namdeb. It also gives residents an opportunity to own private property in Oranjemund.
Namdeb CEO Riaan Burger described the day as an historical milestone, saying: “It is a day that I believe we have all been waiting for.” He added that it was important for all stakeholders now to explore ways of diversifying the economy of the town to ensure its long-term sustainability.
The signing ceremony at the town council chambers on 11 June involved Oranjemund Mayor Councillor Henry Coetzee, who praised all the negotiating teams for their tireless efforts to make the dream come true for everyone in the town. He said: “We need the input from everyone to support and build our beautiful town and for businesses to prosper.”
Oranjemund, with a population of about 4,000 in the southwest corner of Namibia on the northern bank of the Orange River, has been a closed and privately managed town since its establishment in 1936, catering for the mining community associated with Namdeb, a joint venture between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Namibia.
The company, the successor to Consolidated Diamond Mines, became responsible for the provision of all services in Oranjemund in 1990 and owned the properties and infrastructure. Visitors needed a permit to enter the town, until the official opening on 21 October 2017.
The Oranjemund Town Council began taking over the responsibility of running the local municipal services in 2012. Namdeb has worked hand in hand with partners, such as the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to help ensure a sustainable town.
The town ‘built on diamonds’ is now free to take its place in the competitive world. It is believed that, after the signing of the MoA, investment is likely to grow and that tourism could develop into a significant industry. Furthermore, there is great potential in the fields of agriculture, retail, industrial development and manufacturing.
However, diamond mining will remain an important sector in Oranjemund for years to come.