News & Media

AGRIBANK and MAWF/GIZ Support to De-bushing Project signs a Memorandum of Understanding to support bush control and bush utilisation initiatives

Agribank has signed a one year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the MAWF/GIZ Support to De-bushing Project.

The MoU covers the following areas for cooperation;

  • Products development: collaborate in the development of financing products aimed at scaling-up projects in bush control and biomass utilisation.
  • Loans risk assessment: utilise the valuable knowledge and information of the De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS) for risk assessment of bush control and bush-based value addition loans.
  • Information sharing: DAS offers to provide referral service on Agribank’s loan products relevant to bush control and biomass utilisation, as part of their outreach services. Reciprocally, Agribank will be sharing information/data on loan products specifically on the uptake of related loans and especially those associated with the focal area of this MoU.
  • Capacity building: DAS and Agribank to jointly coordinate capacity building activities for bush control loan holders. The parties will ensure that loan applicants undergo technical training in sustainable rangeland management, sustainable bush control and technologies used, biomass processing and utilisation, and the economics of bush control.
  • Monitor and Evaluate: DAS and Agribank to collaborate in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of bush control and biomass utilisation activities by loan holders, and assess short and long term economic and environmental impact, and the loan repayment ability...

The MAWF/GIZ Support to De-bushing Project was established through a bilateral cooperation between the German and Namibian governments in partnership with the
Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to develop, improve and implement strategies on sustainable bush control.

The Support to De-bushing Project aims at creating a national framework for bush control, which comprises of three inter-related objectives:
  1. Creating value addition opportunities for the biomass resource
  2. Supporting farmers, wood harvesting and processing industries through the establishment of a De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS).
  3. Creating an enabling environment in general to establish an environmental friendly and sustainable biomass industry.

DAS is a national information platform and focal point for questions relating to bush encroachment, bush control and value addition to bush. By virtue of its responsibilities, DAS will be the main co-operator in the implementation of this agreement.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Agribank Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, noted that the MOU demonstrates Agribank’s resolve to play a meaningful role in the socio-economic transformation and development of Namibia. “We continuously strive to innovate ways and means to ensure that our products and services become more accessible to all Namibians in order to contribute to the development of agriculture in this country. Bush encroachment has proven to be a problem in many parts of the country and we trust that through this agreement, more farmers and entrepreneurs will have access to financing and advisory services to turn the challenge of bush encroachment into value addition opportunities”, Nghikembua stated.

On his part, GIZ Project Team Leader Frank Gschwender emphasised that there is great potential for a diversified industry based on Namibian encroacher bush. “The scope of bush encroachment is huge, estimated at more than 30 million hectares of land amounting to a total of 200 to 300 million tonnes of biomass, providing Namibia with a sheer unlimited resource which is in high demand globally”. According to Gschwender, the knowledge of the opportunities created through biomass utilisation is crucial for the industry to flourish. As an emerging industry, the sector is faced with difficulties in accessing financial products to upscale bush control and value chain initiatives. As such, this cooperation is seen as a roadmap to create financial models suited to boost the bush-based biomass industry, thereby achieve large-scale rangeland restoration, Gschwender concluded.

Agribank Chief Executive Officer Profile

Nghikembua holds a Bachelor of Economics degree (A-average) from the University of Namibia and a Master of Science degree in Financial Economics from the University of London; and has completed an Executive Development Programme (EDP) from the University of Cape Town. In addition, Nghikembua has completed various Strategy and Leadership courses from the University of Wits (SA), INSEAD in France and the Old Mutual Business School (SA).

Nghikembua previously led the transformation of Namibia Post Ltd as its Chief Executive Officer, and later served as Chief Executive Officer of Operations at Old Mutual in Namibia and as Managing Director of Old Mutual Shortterm Insurance Company (Namibia) Ltd. In the latter role, Nghikembua led the successful integration of the former Mutual and Federal Insurance Company of Namibia Ltd into Old Mutual Holdings (Namibia).

Within Old Mutual, furthermore, Nghikembua served as the founding Executive and Chairman of Old Mutual Finance (Namibia) Pty Ltd (a lending company); and further served at different periods on the Boards of Old Mutual Transactional Services, Old Mutual Properties, the Old Mutual Foundation and the Investment Committee of the Old Mutual Investment Group (Namibia). On August 1 2016, he began his Agribank term.

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Upscaling Farmers' Productivity Through Training And Mentorship

Agribank established an Agri Advisory Services (AASD) Division for training and mentorship of farmers, effective April 2017, in line with its five year strategic plan.

The direct objective of this division is to transfer skills and knowledge as well as change attitudes towards farming in order to increase productivity and promote business relationships between clients and the Bank. The ultimate objective is to transform agricultural interventions into viable business enterprises. Further, the services have a special focus of orienting farmers towards adopting appropriate climate resilient strategies and agro-processing practices, and thus, ensuring national food security and sustainable livelihoods.

The following services in support of up-scaling farmers’ productivity capacities are offered under the AASD:

A. Training

Opportunities will be presented to clients and non-clients to attend various platforms for up-scaling their knowledge and skills-base. These platforms comprise of the following:

  • Evening lectures: A complementary platform to keep farmers in urban areas informed and equipped with farm management skills.
  • Excursions: To expose identified clients and non-clients to best farming practices, thereby enhancing their understanding of the commitment and sacrifices one has to make to become productive and profitable.
  • Farmers’ information days: to ensure information dissemination to as many farmers as possible and used by industry role-players and farmers as platform to network.
  • On-farm research trials: to demonstrate and create awareness on various appropriate farming practices to influence informed decision making.
  • Farm mapping: to produce farm maps to aid farm planning and management.
  • Topic-specific training events: provided over an extended period, between two to five days to allow farmers to gain a deeper understanding and ability to demonstrate skills, knowledge and attitude towards targeted aspects of farming. Training packages may be arranged in conjunction with other specialized agricultural training providers.

B. Mentorship

Identified clients will be offered a chance to receive mentorship free of charge but must be willing to sign a Mentorship and Training Agreement to demonstrate their commitment to farming productively. Such clients will be attached to a mentor based on the location or operational zone of the mentor so as to maintain regular contact for personalized advice and guidance based on the client’s needs.

Mentoring is based on commitment, and a mutual trust relationship between the mentor and the client (mentee) for it to be effective. This mentorship component uses two approaches when engaging the clients for intervention; one is the “individual client mentoring” (one-on-one) where there is personalized transfer of skills and knowledge between the mentor and the client, based on the client’s own needs and circumstances. The other approach is the “client group mentoring” where clients in the same farming area or in close proximity to each other, form a group to be mentored as one study group. This group approach promotes and enhances support networks, sharing experience, and exchange of skills and knowledge amongst clients.

To intensify and accelerate knowledge transfer, information on upcoming events, farming tips and material used for training purposes amongst others will be available on the Agribank website: www.agribank.com.na under the AASD link and a series of articles on best farming practices will be regularly published in local newspapers.

This article is compiled by Mrs. Elaine Smith, Manager Agri Advisory Services Division at Agribank.

Issued by:
Marketing and Communication Division

For enquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communication Division at:
Tel.: 061 2074332
Fax: 061 2074206

Selection is critical to optimal livestock performance

Every livestock farmer should strive for optimal productivity while keeping the costs of production in check. The production efficiency on any livestock enterprise is directly linked to the efficiency of livestock selection. In order to maximise productivity, a livestock farmer should establish breeding objectives and goals, and implement a selection process that will meet his/her objectives. The purpose of livestock selection is to improve herd or flock productivity, meet market demands and increase farm income. There are several factors that hinder livestock improvement, which amongst others include:

  • Costs of breeding materials: expensive breeding bulls, rams, cows, ewes, etc.
  • Uncontrolled breeding practices: no selection, in-breeding, delayed castrations and no breeding camps.
  • Absence of records: with no records, it is difficult to trace or monitor livestock performance. Important information to track includes: birth weight, pregnancy, weaning weight, market weight, calving intervals, etc.
  • Skills/knowledge and information gap: some farmers do not adopt contemporary livestock management practices. Some also do not have the right information and skills to make a success of their farming enterprises.
  • Climatic/environmental conditions: harsh conditions such as droughts, floods, and extreme temperatures negatively affect livestock performance physiologically and physically.

Selection is critical to optimal livestock performance, and the objective is to retain and maintain superior breeding animals that will pass the most desired traits onto future generations. To achieve that, three common approaches can be used in order to help the farmer make desired and well-informed decisions. These are;

  1. Visual assessment (phenotypic): this type of selection is based on descriptive standards set to identify an ideal animal based on its physical soundness, e.g. body conformation, posture (e.g. legs, neck, back, and head), udder and testicle size and placement, etc. For example, if an animal is observed to have weak legs (unstable) or sickle hocks, then it is not selected for breeding but culled or removed from the herd.
  2. Genetic assessment (genotypic): This assessment is based on known inherited characteristics which are influenced by an animal’s genotype. This is done by genetic evaluation methods such as Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) or Source: brahman.com.au Expected Progeny Difference (EPD) amongst others. . The use of these methods is based on statistical formulas to predict if an animal is able to pass on the most economically important traits such as growth rate, carcass quality, reproductive efficiency, parasite resistance etc. The difference between the two is that EBV estimate individual animal breeding value whereas EPD estimate the Individual animal’s progeny (offspring) breeding value. Farmers can always obtain such estimates from livestock stud breeders associations ( https://www.nsba.iway.na).
  3. Classing and culling (visual and history): this is visual assessment of the animal, and the use of its performance history (e.g. calving intervals, abortions, complications at birth, etc.). For example, a cow on average should have a calf every year (365 days and less), but if it starts delaying and have longer intervals between every calf, then it can be selected and classed as a low or non-producer, thus, culled for market.

For any animal type or breed, a farmer should take into account the environmental conditions and his/her management ability. On that, what is expected is a productive and adaptive animal, and the management should be able to meet the animal requirements in terms of health and nutrition, and general animal welfare practices.

This article is compiled by Mr. Erastus Ngaruka, Technical Officer within Agribank’s Agri Advisory Services Division.

Issued by:
Marketing and Communication Division

For enquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communication Division at:
Tel.: 061 2074332
Fax: 061 2074206

AGRIBANK signs livestock financing Memorandum of Understanding with the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC)

Agribank and the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) have signed a one year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Wednesday, 2 August 2017. In terms of the MOU, Agribank will finance the purchasing of female breeding livestock by farmers in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) from the NDC’s Kavango Cattle Ranch (KCR).

To ensure wider benefit to farmers, the MOU provides that the number of cattle to be financed through this financing agreement will be limited to 15 head of cattle per client. The purchase price of the cattle shall be either 80% (eighty percent) of the market value as per weight class, which value is based on the prices obtained at the Grootfontein auction in the immediately preceding month, or a fixed rate of N$20 per kilogram, whichever is the higher.

Financing will be subject to Agribank’s credit policy and upon approval final livestock selection will be done between NDC and the client. The ownership of the chosen livestock will pass on to the client and the animals will be released into the custody of the client. NDC will then issue the final invoice to Agribank for payment. Such payment will be made directly to the NDC.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Agribank Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, noted that the MOU is just one of many initiatives that the Bank has taken to widen the access of communal farmers to financing.
“As the Agricultural bank, we have a duty to ensure inclusivity so that we can make a bigger developmental impact in our country. Extending financing to farmers in the NCA will no doubt improve their production output as food security at a household level is one of the expected outcomes of the socio-economic development pillar of our strategic plan.

It is therefore imperative that we develop ways and means to cater for this distinct segment of our market”, Nghikembua noted.

The Acting Managing Director of NDC, Pieter de Wet, echoed Nghikembua’s sentiments and reiterated that as development partners accountable to the same sole shareholder, this effort of leveraging synergies could not have come at a more opportune time when excellence is expected to take centre stage in agricultural production.

The NDC’s Kavango Cattle Ranch is located just above the Veterinary Line, with corridor status, and has been operating for more than 20 years focusing on beef production. “It is therefore only prudent that NDC participates in initiatives aimed at supporting communities in its areas of operation. Given the quality of animals produced at KCR, we are confident that sharing our top breeds with farmers in the NCA will go a long way in infusing quality genetic material in the northern regions”, de Wet stated.

According to him, the partnership between Agribank and NDC gives real meaning to the empowerment of people at grass-roots level and that hitherto excluded sectors of the community will now be afforded an opportunity not only to enjoy ease of access to funding at affordable rates but also to acquire quality breeding stock for improved agricultural output.

AGRIBANK catalyses the transformation of agriculture in Namibia

Agribank is focussed on catalysing the transformation of agriculture in Namibia. The Bank plans to do this through inclusive lending where renewed emphasis is placed on emerging and communal farmers as well as improving service delivery efficiencies with specific focus on loan process timelines. This was revealed by Sakaria Nghikembua, the Chief Executive Officer of the bank, at its first ever stakeholder engagement dinner held in Rundu on Thursday, 22 June 2017.

Nghikembua further listed value addition financing that will support economic growth and employment creation as key milestones towards transforming the agricultural sector. Agribank furtherplans to enhance agricultural output through training and mentorship programmes and has therefore established its own specialised Agri-Advisory Services Division within the bank from 1 April this this year. Nghikembua made the remarks during the dinner where the bank shared its strategy and focus areas with key stakeholders while receiving feedback through mutual interactions.

At the event, Agribank’s Board Chairperson, Terttu Uyuni, stated that at the heart of Agribank’s strategy are the key pillars of customer focus, financial sustainability and socio-economic transformation, amongst others. The Agribank Chairperson explained that the bank is focusing on customers because “we need to understand their needs, the challenges they face as well as the opportunities available to them. Financial sustainability requires us to grow our loan book, manage our expenses prudently and ensure timely loan repayments to the bank.” She reiterated that the Board and Management have a duty “to manage the bank in a sustainable and inclusive manner so that we can make a wider developmental impact in our country.”

According to her, the socio-economic development pillar of the bank’s strategy asserts the principle that, as a national development financing institution, Agribank needs to be inclusive, adding “It is critical that we devise appropriate strategies to reach out to communal farmers, who have previously benefited only in a limited way from our loan products and support services. The recent launch of the no-collateral loan product for salaried employees supports this strategic aspiration.”

Uuyuni also amplified the statement by Nghikembua on the bank’s catalytic role in the transformation of agriculture by providing innovative and affordable financing solutions to Namibians so that they can produce for more for themselves and the country; as well as earn foreign currency for the country through exports. “By taking advantage of our agro-processing financing, our citizens will not only be able to add value and grow the economy, but they will also provide jobs, secure livelihoods, eliminate poverty, restore people’s dignity and create prosperity for all Namibians”, she stated.

The Agribank chairperson further noted that for long, Agribank focused on funding primary production activities. With Government’s emphasis now on value addition and growth-at-home, the bank has realigned its strategy to ensure that it also plays its part in the financing of value addition activities in the agricultural space.

“It is against this background that the Board approved the agro processing loan product which will add value to basic agricultural produce, create employment and help expand production in support of economic growth. The bank therefore invites clients with bankable ideas to talk to us, so that we can guide them through the necessary processes to realise their dreams of agricultural value-addition.”

At the occasion, the Governor of Kavango East Region, Honourable Dr Samuel Mbambo, who was the guest of honour, pledged his support towards the full implementation of Agribank’s strategic plan so that it can deliver on its mandate to ensure that there is a bigger developmental impact in the country.

Dr Mbambo challenged small scale, as well as commercial, producers in his region and beyond, to step up their game and set up factories to manufacture Namibia’s own tomato sauce and process other produce into value-added products.

“As a country, we are currently importing these most basic products, but if we organise ourselves and take advantage of this facility by Agribank, we should be able to penetrate this market and make a dent in our quest for food security and economic diversification,” the Governor concluded.

The Agribank stakeholders’ dinner was attended by both Governors of the Kavango East and Kavango West Regions, the Mayors of Rundu and Nkurenkuru as well as senior government officials and key clients of Agribank in the two regions.

END

Issued by:
Sakaria Nghikembua
Chief Executive Officer


For enquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communication Division at:
Tel.: 061 2074332
Fax: 061 2074206

We are ready to listen to our individual clients

Agribank chief executive officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, has assured the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) that the bank is ready to listen to individual clients who are prepared to engage it in order to make arrangements to repay their debts. Nghikembua stated that the bank has always been ready and continues to listen to numerous clients who visit Agribank on a daily basis to discuss their challenges with a view to enter into credible, fair and practical arrangements to settle their outstanding arrears. “Every client has a unique situation and we cannot, as a bank, discuss individual clients’ situations in a group. We are glad that a number of our clients have already visited our offices or those of our appointed debt collectors, in this regard. We have a responsibility to ensure that the bank is financially sustainable and the debt collections initiative is just but one initiative that the bank is implementing in pursuit of the financial sustainability objective.”

The Agribank chief made the remarks at a stakeholder engagement session with NNFU, which represents communal farmers throughout the country. The objective of the engagement session was, amongst others, to share the key milestones achieved by the bank over the past nine months, highlights of the Bank’s 5-year strategy and its focus for the future.

At the occasion, NNFU Board member and Councillor of the Aminuis Constituency, Peter Kazongominja, expressed satisfaction with the information presented at the session, which contextualizes the bank’s strategy and the rationale for the arrears collection initiative. According to him, many farmers are battling with the effects of the recent drought and low livestock levels. As a result, some farmers adopted an antagonistic attitude towards the bank but he assured the Agribank team that NNFU will continue to spread the message to its members. “I can assure you that my message to our members will be to urge them to visit Agribank offices as individual clients to make suitable arrangements since clients are individually liable to settle their outstanding debts,” he stated.

On his part, NNFU Executive Director, Mwilima Mushokabanji, reiterated that lack of information by communal farmers sometimes lead to anger and frustrationfrustrations, but that once the relevant information is shared, the farmers understand and appreciate the context of decisions affecting them.

Mushokabanji invited the bank to attend its annual congresses as well as regional farmers' information days to share information about its operations and activities. He further applauded Agribank for introducing the no collateral loan product for communal farmers, stating that it is long overdue and a huge boost for communal farmers in the country.

NNFU was represented by its Executive Director, Executive Board Members Sirkka Iileka and Kazongominja as well as Beata Xulu, the NNFU’s Program Manager.

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Agribank Launches No Collateral Loan Product

Agribank has launched a revolutionary “No Collateral Loan Product” in Oshakati on Friday, 28 April 2017. The no collateral loan product is in line with the Bank’s strategic plan; and responds to the need to be inclusive of all farmers country-wide, especially those in communal areas who do not have access to conventional collateral. The product therefore reaches out to communal farmers in a tangible and measurable way.

The product is targeted at salaried communal farmers who genuinely do not have fixed property in a proclaimed urban environment. Speaking at the launch, Michael Iyambo, the Vice Chairperson of Agribank’s Board of Directors, explained that Agribank continues to provide financing for agricultural purposes against mortgage collateral and/or fixed term investments. However, this “excludes the communal farmer who might actually also have the ability to repay his or her loan, but lacks convention collateral.”

“As a Bank, we decided to address this gap whilst reasonably mitigating our lending risks. Instead of paying once-a-year, the client will repay the Bank monthly. This makes it easier for clients to pay as they are now paying smaller amounts more frequently rather than paying a bigger amount once a year”, Iyambo explained. He also noted that instead of paying via bank debit orders, Agribank will deduct via payroll to enhance the collections success rate. Credit life insurance has been added to the product to ensure that the Bank gets paid in the event a client passes on whilst still owing on the loan. This way, too, the client’s family have peace of mind as the Bank will not claim anything against the deceased client’s estate.

Iyambo further revealed that Agribank decided to support the funding of agro-processing industries in order to add value to basic agricultural produce, create employment and expand production in support of economic growth. Agro-processing, which is a form of secondary production, means at a basic level that meat can be processed into other products; beans can be processed and tinned; milk can be turned into butter and produced on a bigger scale; maize and mahangu grains can be milled and processed into flour, and so on. Iyambo further noted that “value-addition will help uplift the contribution of agriculture to our country’s gross domestic product, which has been dwindling over the past 10 years.” He therefore invited prospective clients with good business plans in agro-processing to submit such plans to Agribank for consideration.

At the same occasion, Agribank Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, stated that it is strategically imperative for Agribank to be inclusive and reach out to communal farmers as this increases food production at the household level; contributes to household-level food security; sets the stage for graduation into commercial farming, and contributes to GDP and economic transformation, while also furthering the Bank’s mandate.

Nghikembua went on to explain that no-collateral loans would range between N$5,000 and N$500,000 and can be used to purchase seasonal inputs, livestock, agricultural machinery; as well as finance water and power infrastructure for farming, fencing materials, tractors and other farm vehicles, amongst other things.

The loan is repayable over a period of 12 to 54 months, with the key qualification requirement being that the borrower’s employer must sign a payroll deduction agreement with Agribank before their employees can qualify for consideration. Disbursements are made directly to the suppliers of goods and services. The Agribank CEO stated that the no-collateral loan product is a step towards the Bank’s strategic objectives of catalysing transformation of the agricultural sector in Namibia. Nghikembua concluded by reiterating that Agribank is committed and ready to play its role in the economy.

Issued by:
Sakaria Nghikembua
Chief Executive Officer

For enquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communication Division at:
Tel.: 061 2074332
Fax: 061 2074206

Debt take over

Agribank lifts moratorium on taking over of agricultural debts from commercial banks

In June 2016, Agribank placed a moratorium on providing loan funding to clients who wanted to move their agricultural loan accounts from commercial banks to Agribank. This move was necessary to gain an enhanced understanding of the nature of the debt being taken over and to appropriately re-configure the Bank’s systems to accommodate the debt take-over product. The moratorium has now been lifted, effective 31 March 2017, which means clients who are currently with commercial banks can again approach Agribank to move their loan accounts over.

In the meantime, Agribank has re-configured its information technology systems to improve its capability to accurately analyse and monitor the performance of these loan accounts.

Commenting on this move, Agribank’s Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, stated that the lifting of the moratorium was a strategic imperative in efforts to grow the loan book of the Bank. Nghikembua reiterated that applications received during the moratorium period and not processed will be considered in order to ensure fair treatment of all clients.

END

Issued by:
Sakaria Nghikembua
Chief Executive Officer

For enquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communication Division at:
Tel: 061 2074332
Fax: 061 2074206

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Agribank establishes Agri advisory services for farmers

Agribank has established a training and mentoring division for farmers within the Bank, effective 1 April 2017. The new division, called the Agri Advisory Services (AASD), follows the successful completion of a seven year partnership between Agribank and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for the implementation of the Farmers’ Support Project (FSP). During this period, a total of N$58.6 million was spent on FSP, of which Agribank contributed N$28.4 million, while the remaining N$30.2 million was contributed by GIZ.

The objective of the AASD, which was established in line with
the Bank’s five year strategic plan, is to transfer skills as well as enhanced knowledge and attitude towards farming as a business in order to increase productivity and promote business relationships between clients and the Bank.

AASD will focus on the provision of personalised mentorship in livestock, crop and horticulture production to Agribank clients in all 14 regions of Namibia. The mentorship and demand-driven training will be offered by technically qualified employees whilst mentorship will be provided by well-experienced farmers to guide qualifying farmers towards an increased understanding of productive farming and applying new skills and knowledge that allow them to improve their livelihoods. The training will cover topics such as rangeland conditions and utilisation, breeding and reproduction, marketing, animal health, record keeping, farm infrastructure management, financial management, animal husbandry, dry-land crop production and horticulture planning, improved irrigation practices and integrated pest management.

The establishment of the Division is in line with the Bank’s mandate to play a pivotal role in Namibia’s agricultural sector to create wealth, provide jobs and contribute towards food security.

In this way, Agribank is contributing towards the country’s long-term economic objectives - as outlined in Vision 2030, the National Development Plans and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.

END

Issued by:
Sakaria Nghikembua
Chief Executive Officer

For enquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communication Division at:
Tel.: 061 2074332
Fax.: 061 2074206

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