Weighing in on the Walmart discussion in Namibia last week were some of the country’s smaller retailers – and surprisingly, the target of their ire was not Walmart or Massmart, but the Namibian government, which, they feel, has offered them insufficient protection from other international retailers, namely our very own Shoprite, Pick n Pay and SPAR. The march of the majors has played merry hell with the little guy, apparently, with four chains – Punyu, Continental, Elago and Black – having gone out of business since the 90s, and others like Okalindi shrinking dramatically, having gone from 10 stores in Windhoek to just three. The issue, according to Chris Siririka, National Coordinator at the Indigenous People’s Business Forum (IPBF) is simply purchasing power. This has led the IPBF to look into a group purchasing scheme for retailers, and the government to consider an amendment to the Foreign Investment Act.
Comment: Anti-freemarket protectionism? Or the legitimate encouragement of the diversity which when nurtured can be a powerful engine for sustainable economic growth?