hospitality, National

NWR holds AGM amidst Covid-19 storm.

Windhoek,May 3 – Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 29 April 2021 in compliance with the Public Enterprise Act 2019 (Act 1 of 2019). During the AGM, the Shareholder was represented by the Minister of Public Enterprise Honourable Leon Jooste and the newly introduced Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Honourable Heather Sibungo.

In presenting its results to the Shareholder, NWR Chairman Ambassador Leonard Iipumbu said, “during the financial year 2019/20, we faced our greatest challenges as an organization. The significant milestone of our first-ever profit of N$ 22 million since the establishment of the organization and other financial gains made in 2018/2019 were wiped out due to Covid-19”.

However, to sustain its operations which resulted in it not retrenching or reducing its employees’ salaries except for its Board’s allowances and Senior Management salaries, NWR needed to be innovative to survive.
“Therefore, we were the first organization to offer our establishments to the Government as isolation facilities. We must say this was an arrangement few tourism companies were looking at during that period.
Additionally, we paid special attention to our domestic market, which resulted in us offering a discounted rate of N$ 600 per room from May up until September 2020. That was a significant discount on our normal rack rates. Through this effort, we were able to keep the business going and provide a much-needed service to the nation. We also launched a new tour package that we envision will be one of the cornerstones of our future,” says Ambassador Iipumbu.
From a cost-cutting perspective, NWR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NAPWU. The MOU resolved, amongst others, to suspend salary increments for the financial period 2019/20, suspend normal Directors: Ambassador L.N. lipumbu (Chairperson), J.W. Moore (Deputy Chairperson), E.R. Petersen, R. Putter, B.T. Schneider, E.S. Shifotoka, C.R. Williams
Dr Matthias M. Ngwangwama (Managing Director) Charmaine Gaingos (Company Secretary)
overtime, Sunday and public holiday payments, and other allowances and benefits with effect from 27 March 2020. Additionally, it also resolved to place a moratorium on external recruitments to ensure that the company’s wage bill remained manageable. NWR also introduced a voluntary separation initiative, which 130 staff members took up. These efforts were aimed at helping it reduce its employee costs.

NWR Managing Director, Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, noted that “during the period under review, the Namibia Wildlife Resorts Hospitality Institute (NWR Hi) was successfully established. In collaboration with the National Training Authority (NTA), NWR’s training arm, NWR Hi, was operationalized in 2020 and apprenticeship scholarships were awarded to 80 apprentices sourced from all of Namibia’s 14 regions for the period 2020 – 2023”.
Furthermore, in appreciating the role the media played during the financial year, Dr Ngwangwama stated that “the negative media reports that characterized us in the past, also significantly reduced under review. A positive media tonality index (positive media reports exceeding negative reports) was achieved in 2020. At one stage, the company was ranked in the 6th place in terms of positive media coverage in 2020 by NamMedia monitoring agency during the year”.
On his part, Honourable Jooste thanked the company Board and management for having done relatively well in coping with the disastrous effects of Covid-19 on the company in relation to industry trends.

1. The 2019/20 financial results must be understood and interpreted within the context of a tough year due to the impacts of Covid. This was the biggest challenge in history of the Namibian Tourism Industry in general, and NWR in particular.

2. Average occupancy down from 49% in 2019 to 21%, better than the 10% worst-case scenario anticipated when the pandemic broke out.

3. A 56% reduction in revenue: From N$395 million in 2019 to N$173 million, mostly, if not all, from the domestic market.

4. A 1% increase in expenses, mainly due to the voluntary separation costs for 130 employees.

4. Comprehensive loss for the year of N$174 million, which is in line with industry trends for 2020.

Robert Maseka