ORANJEMUND – OPENING A CLOSED TOWN AND ECONOMY

 

What happens to a diamond mining town in the Namib Desert, when diamonds become too expensive to mine?

A town that was closed to the general public since the 1920’s. Namdeb hired Freedthinkers to find out

We began in 2015 with a visioning process, Oranjemund 2030, that embraced the mining house, the municipality, the union, businesspeople, citizens and schoolchildren.  Six socio-economic goals, distilled through the process, were then subject to viability tests. Some goals fell by the wayside, others were strengthened.  Between 2015 and 2017 we helped to lay the foundations of a new economy, restoring hope and belief.

One key goal is tourism – the  vast empty spaces of the world’s oldest desert, plus a town with an 18-hole golf-course and oryx roaming the streets, inaccessible without a permit since the 1920’s – was the magnet.  To make the town even more fascinating we recommended an ambitious public art project, now under way, with artists’ retreats held in the desert.

Two critical success factors for town transformation are an active, organised citizenry plus a well-funded investment vehicle.

OMD2030 was formed was formed to help the community play a key part in the future of Oranjemund. ‘We are involved in tourism promotion, environmental sustainability and other citizenry projects that engage and activate the community.’ omd2030.com

Investment: ‘OMDis Town is a Section 21 Company, or Special Purpose Vehicle. Its sole purpose is to proactively accelerate Town Transformation – the economic diversification of Oranjemund – to ensure the town’s sustainability by 2030 and beyond.’ omdis.co

Making a new Oranjemund is a work in progress. During the pandemic, while the world held its breath, the art town in the desert was born.

Mike Freedman, Pippa Kapelus, Retha van der Schyff, and nine sector specialists,  in close co-operation with Namdeb Sustainability.