Sunday, 15 September 2013

Who is Milton Louw?

Who is Milton Louw?

Foundational Pillars:

1.       Writer
·         1987                         : Founder Editor of School newspaper- Dawid Bezuidenhout
·         1991                         : Poet – Collection of poems as Bubblegum Love
·         1991 – 1993           : Editor of Namibia Business Journal, NCCI
·         1994                         : Publisher of Fortune Magazine Namibia
·         1997 - 2000            : Publisher of Business Fax News
·         1999 – 2011           : Publisher of Milton’s Email Business News
·         2004                         : Publisher of Namibia Business Directory
·         Since 2009             : Blogger at
·         2011                         : Author of Future Namibia
·         Since 2012             : Blogger at Africa Council for Africa
·         Since 2012             : Columnist at the Namibian Newspaper
·         Since 2012             : Writer at Consumer News Namibia Magazine

2.       Actor
·         1987                         Namibian Schools Drama Winner
·         1988                         Namibian University Drama Group
·         1989                         Adam Small – “Joanie Galant-Hulle” (Director: Frederick Philander)

3.       Debater
·         1987                         Namibian School Debating Champion
·         1988                         Namibian Tertiary Students Debating Champion

4.       Leader
·         1983                         Headboy – Brackenhurst Primary School
·         1990                         Chairman of the Tertiary Students Representative Council
·         1997 – 2010           Executive Council – Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry

5.       Researcher
·         1995                         Namibian Fishing Industry Sectoral Study
                                  United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, IPS France
·         1999                         Pan-African Initiative On E-Commerce
                                  Economic Commission for Africa
·         2000                         Central Register for Namibia
                                  Creditreform Germany
·         2003                         Small Business Impact Assessment
                                  Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit
·         2004                         SME Banking and Financial Services Survey (Namibia)
·         2007                         “ICT for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development”
                                  Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies
·         2009                         “Libraries, Telecentres, Cybercafes And Public Access To ICT”
                                  University of Washington
·         2011                         Credit Information Bureau for Namibia
                                  Namibia Consumer Protection Group

6.       Entrepreneur
·         1988 - 1990            SME trader of goods from Cape Town, RSA till Oshakati, Namibia
·         1991                         Solutions Namibia (Computer Support)
·         1991                         Fortune Namibia Magazine
·         1999 – present    NamBizDotCom (company database management)
·         2003 – present    Credit Information Bureau Namibia (consumer reports)
·         2007 – present    Namlists (consumer list generation)
·         2012                         Namibia Savings & Credit Cooperative

7.       Activist
·         1988                         Student activist for Namibian Independence
·         1991 – 2005           Black Economic Empowerment – Chamber of Commerce
·         Since 2006             Consumer Activist

8.       Trade Promoter
·         1993 - 1995            Namibian Delegate to UNIDO, Paris, France
·         2001                         Trade Representative for Botswana Export Development and
                                  Investment Authority (BEDIA)
·         2006                         Trade Representative for Mauritius  Export Development and
                                  Investment Authority (MEDIA)

9.       Teacher
·         1991 – 2005           Microsoft Office Trainer to black entrepreneurs
·         2006 – 2008           Lecturer for Cambridge International Business Diploma
·         2009 – 2011           MS Office to government employees at Polytechnic of Namibia

10.   Project manager
·         1995 - 1997            Oshikango Export Processing Zone
·         2013                         Namibia Electronic Voter Roll at Electoral Commission of Namibia


What reading the Bible taught me

I must have irritated my Uncle Ron no end. Always questions and more questions. Yesterday, I remembered asking him when I was around 9 how a person could read the whole Bible. His answer, "A chapter at a time".

The best part was having him help me work out a schedule to do this by making time every day (@18H15) to spend reading a chapter at a time. By the time I was 13, I finished at Revelations 22.

Thats an awesome 1,189 chapters.

The point I would like to make though is what I learnt from reading the Bible. It was not just Christian values or morals, but it also improved my vocabulary, my story-telling capability, and my ability to share the value of an internalised belief system.

Thats what I want to have Moral Education taught at schools. It is about the wisdoms a child should explore and expand within themselves.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Disinfectants fails specifications test

Namibia as a consumer society uses almost all products that are available for consumer in South Africa. Thus it is with great concern we notice that the National Regulation for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) has recalled a popular detergent product because it’s deemed to be harmful for consumers. The NRCS has informed the public that the Dettol disinfectant liquid failed a bacterial efficacy test. The test requires a disinfectant detergent to kill 99.9percent of germs and Dettol failed this test, according to Thomas Madzivhe of NRCS.

“It (Dettol) has failed a bacterial efficacy test. Once you have a product that does not kill 99.9 percent it exposes you to whatever various forms of infection you may get,” said Madzivhe.
(South African) Consumers have been warned not to purchase the product that has been ordered to be taken off the shelves across the country soon. The product is imported from the United Kingdom and it is not registered with the local regulator. Its manufactures don’t have permission to sell the product in South Africa or Namibia.

What is even more worrying is that Dettol is not the only detergent that has been taken off the shelves. Domestos, produced by Unilever, has also been recalled.
“It (Domestos) does not meet our administrative regulatory requirements and it cannot be sold, even though technically it may not pose any safety or health risk to the consumers," said Madzivhe.
The South African Regulator (National Regulation for Compulsory Specifications) has confiscated over 4000 bottles of Dettol disinfectant liquid and they will be destroyed.

The regulator has urged consumers to alert the NRCS of shops that are still selling the recalled products.

The question is now to Namibian consumers: Who is protecting our rights?
The answer would seem to be that this should be the Namibia Standards Institution.

What is the Namibia Standards Institution?

The Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) is established in terms of the Standards Act 18, of 2005. The NSI is governed by the Namibian Standards Council (NSC), which was inaugurated by the Hon. Minister of Trade Dr. Hage Geingob on the 17th of February, 2011. The NSC provides strategic leadership to the NSI and consists of eight members, who are all non-executive, independent Directors, while the CEO serves as an ex officio member of the NSC.

According to the NSI, the expected results of the NSI Programme are an established and functional national standards body in Namibia, capable of:
·         developing, adopting and applying standards;
·         providing accurate measurement traceability to the international standards (SI) through the metrology division;
·         providing reliable testing especially for food such as fish and fishery products including shellfish, beef and agro-products and rendering food safety technical support to the aquaculture, fishing and other industries through regular tests conducted at the NSI Biotoxins and Microbiology laboratories at Walvis Bay and through NSI Inspection and Certification.

Regardless of who is OFFICIALLY responsible for protection the consumer in this regard, you the consumer can be assured that the Consumer News Magazine Namibia will keep you informed of the news you need to know.

Namibians do not get value for money when using data

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. The WEF released its “Global Information Technology Report 2013” in April and here are some highlights, as well as specific information regarding the cost of technology in Namibia.

Finland has toppled Sweden from the top spot in a ranking of economies that are best placed to benefit from new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Singapore came in second and Sweden third in the 2013 Networked Readiness Index.

The Networked Readiness Index, calculated by the WEF, and INSEAD (an acronym for the French "Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires" or European Institute of Business Administration), ranks 144 economies based on their capacity to exploit the opportunities offered by the digital age. This capacity is determined by the quality of the regulatory, business and innovation environments, the degree of preparedness, the actual usage of ICTs, as well as the societal and economic impacts of ICTs. The assessment is based on a broad range of indicators from Internet access and adult literacy to mobile phone subscriptions and the availability of venture capital. In addition, indicators such as patent applications and e-government services gauge the social and economic impact of digitization.

Namibia is ranked 111 out of 144 countries in the survey.
Further interesting facts highlighted in the WEF report include the following rankings (out of 144 countries)
Namibia Country Ranking
Ranking out of 144
Networked Readiness Index 2012 (out of 142)
A. Environment subindex
1st pillar: Political and regulatory environment
2nd pillar: Business and innovation environment
B. Readiness subindex
3rd pillar: Infrastructure and digital content
4th pillar: Affordability
5th pillar: Skills
C. Usage subindex
6th pillar: Individual usage
7th pillar: Business usage
8th pillar: Government usage
D. Impact subindex
9th pillar: Economic impacts
10th pillar: Social impacts

There is a ranking in the report where Namibia is Number 1 - that is in “Mobile Network Coverage”. Thus we can be proud in having the highest coverage of our population (as small as it is) with mobile cellular services.

A new report from Research ICT Africa (RIA) provides another view of Namibia’s e-readiness.
In a table from the RIA report, a comparison is made between costs of ADSL (fixed line) and mobile costs to use the Internet and other data services. Namibia ranks very favourably in the cost of fixed line data access at USD 40.32 per month but it is shocking to see that our data access via mobile is over USD 100 or N$ 990 per month.

This cost comparison is very relevant as most Namibian consumer are using their cellular telephones to use the internet rather than fixed “home” lines. Thus the poorer sections of the population will pay up to 2.5 times higher for data access via the most available medium, namely cellular.

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) needs to be proactive on engaging the service providers (all of whom belong to the state-owned Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings company).  CRAN is after all responsible to (among others):
  • ·         Implement a transparent and fair pricing regime
  • ·         Respond to consumer complaints
  • ·         Protect consumers in respect of prices, quality, variety of services and user equipment supplied
  • ·         Promote competition amongst service providers

Buyer beware when enrolling at an education business

The past few weeks there have been shock stories in the newspaper and on the airwaves regarding students who have completed their studies (some as far afield as Indonesia), only to find out that their course of study or institution they were studying at are not accredited by the Namibian authorities.  A few of these customers have contacted the Consumer News Namibia Magazine and asked for our assistance in getting their courses accredited, or at the very least, getting their money refunded.

Consumer News Namibia Magazine has in previous editions covered the education sector, and more specifically the private tertiary institutions sector, but for the sake of our readers once again we give details in this article.

Let us start with educational institutions that are based in Namibia.
The Namibian constitution states:
(4) All persons shall have the right, at their own expense, to establish and to maintain private schools, or colleges or other institutions of tertiary education: provided that:
(a) such schools, colleges or institutions of tertiary education are registered with a Government department in accordance with any law authorising and regulating such registration;
(b) the standards maintained by such schools, colleges or institutions of tertiary education are not inferior to the standards

Educational institutions in Namibia (and their portfolio or courses) are accredited by the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA). This institution evaluates and accredits national institutions and degrees, as well as foreign qualifications of people who wish to demonstrate the national equivalence of their degrees earned abroad.

According to their website:
“The Namibia Qualifications Authority (also referred to as the NQA) is a statutory body established by the Namibia Qualifications Authority Act No 29 of 1996.

The NQA is committed to the promotion of quality education and training in Namibia through the development and management of a comprehensive and flexible National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Quality is also promoted by the NQA through the Accreditation of education and training providers in Namibia and their courses.

The NQA wishes to assist the development of Namibia as a proud nation through putting in place systems and opportunities that allows all people to develop to their fullest potential without being hindered by unnecessary obstacles and barriers.
The NQA believes that all people have a right to having their learning and abilities validly, fairly, reliably and equitably recognised regardless of when, how and where learning attainments and competences were attained.”

Unfortunately, this is the only page that works on the NQA website. All other pages were unavailable for link through from 20 – 29 July 2013.
In a nutshell, the NQA has the responsibility of ensuring the quality of education received by Namibians. They do this through accrediting Namibian institutions and their courses as well as evaluating of course provided by international organisations.

Thus a Namibian student (or their parents) should first check with the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) before commencing their studies at either a local or foreign institution. In addition, the consumer must take note of what level the course is in the National Qualifications Framework.

Until Namibia gets a Consumer Protection Act, the rule is “Caveat emptor” or let the buyer beware. It still is the responsibility of the buyer to research the goods or services they wish to purchase and they have no recourse to the law if these do not meet their expectations.

Bottled water is making huge profits

Up until the late 1970’s there was no bottled water. Only 1976 did the first bottled water appear when the French bottler Perrier made its debut. These days you can hardly enter a shop or restaurant without finding bottled water on its shelves or menu.

The questions we as consumers must ask is: “What is the cost of bottled water?” and “Is it worth the price?”

Water is a human right and most of us have access in our homes, businesses, or schools to water supplied by our municipalities. This water is supplied to us at an average cost of N$ 11.45 per kilolitre – or 12c per 10 litre. That’s right, 12 Namibian cents per ten litres of water or less than 2c per litre.  (Source: City of Windhoek Tariff Booklet 2013/14)

Now let us compare that to the price of bottled water. A bottle of water can cost on average N$ 10.00 per litre in most retail stores in Namibia.

Regular drinking water competes with itself in a bottle, but reviewing the cost difference, you've got to wonder why or how?

Most consumers will tell you that that water in a plastic bottle is healthier and tastes better. According to international reports - with the help of advertisements, bottled water has gone from "reservoir to faddish luxury item to mass commodity.” Bottled H2O is being directly or indirectly sold as: healthy, smart, pure, sexy, clean and simple, it is "the stuff of life." The question we must ask is now is that a scientific fact or something we have come to believe because of the marketing by these bottling companies?  Even more worrying is that it has not been widely reported that in a few countries in the world concerns have been raised about chemicals leeching into the water from the soft plastic material of bottles.

And this brings us to the main concern (besides the high price and thus profit margin for bottling companies) about the bottled water. There is no government regulation about what constitutes mineral or “fresh” water and what are the types of inferences bottling companies can place when advertising or labelling their products. In fact most bottlers of water will admit they are bottling water from the municipal source but are “purifying” and adding taste.

Another concern in this day and age of recycling, is that as consumers we are polluting our environment with these plastic water bottles that are more expensive that tap water even though it may or may not be “better for us”.  According to the Sierra Club (One of the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States), “Annually the water bottles themselves take about 1.5 million tons of plastic to manufacture for the global market.”

Did you know plastics come from oil and therefore it takes 1.5 million barrels of oil a year? Additionally the manufacturing process releases toxins into the environment, such as nickel, ethylbenzene, ethylene oxide and benzene. Even with current plastic recycling centres, “most used bottles end up in landfills, adding to the landfill crisis."

As a consumer you must ask yourself before you buy your next bottle of water: Am I willing to pay more than 50 000% for a bottle of water that is not regulated and checked for quality while adding to the pollution of the environment?