….Condemns poaching, money laundering and development
Multimillionaire Chinese businessman Jack Huang has in recent years continued to make headlines, but mainly due to the friendship and business ties he has with President Hage Geingob.
Huang, who chairs the Sun Group—a property and finance conglomerate that has a huge stronghold in Namibia-explained his dealings with the President and how he ended up in Namibia in an interview with The Patriot this week.
Huang, a trained economist, also used the platform to castigate Chinese nationals who are involved in money laundering and poaching activities.
Having conducted business in Namibia for over 15 years, Huang described Namibia as “an ideal place to do business” saying he has invested over N$100 million in Namibia since his arrival at the turn of the century.
Apart from Namibia, the 48-year-old business mogul has businesses in South Africa, Zambia, Angola, China and Botswana.
Huang has a 60 percent shareholder in African Sunrise Investment, in which the Dr. Hage Geingob Family Trust and the president’s ex-wife Loini each have a 20 percent stake.Huang said he started doing business at the age of 14 and ever since he has never looked back.
TP: How did you end up in Namibia?
JH: In 2001 I came for a business visit to Namibia, I was invited by the Government after a delegation from the Ministry of Trade and Industry travelled to South Africa in 2000 for a meeting and they ended up visiting my factory. At the time I was based in South Africa. Between 2002 and 2003 I started a textile factory in Oshikango. We sold whatever we produced to the locals and Angolans. After 2003 we saw the need to create opportunities for the locals and to grow the town, that need prompted us to buy land from the relevant authorities on which we built malls and trading platform. At the beginning we imported goods to sell to the locals and then we upgraded our business model and focused on investments such as providing trading platforms like malls and open markets from which the locals could also conduct their businesses.
TP: Tell us more about your relationship with the President…
JH: I met Dr Geingob during his time as Minister of Trade and Industry.
He came to Oshikango for a visit and my factory was one of the places he visited-that is how we met. I do not know whether he[Geingob] takes me as a friend but for me he is a very important figure.
Our communication is not for business purposes, but for the scholarship program I run through which Namibian students are sent to China on fully paid scholarships to the best universities for studies. That is our area of focus when we interact.
TP: What about African Sunrise Investments?
JH: That is the only business we have together. We formed the company in 2014 before he even became the President. Both of us are not involved in the day-to-day management of this company.
TP: So who manages it?
JH: One of the shareholders is the son of his ex-wife[the late Loini Geingos], Helmuth. He manages the company on a daily basis. After the reports surfaced about African sunrise we became stricter about our daily operations to ensure greater transparency.
TP: On talks that your ties with the President makes doing business easier for you in Namibia…
JH: Let me give you my a very honest answer, ever since I came to Namibia I never got any state projects…not a single one! Everything I do is my own investments.
TP: But did you ever bid for any state contracts?
JH: Yes. According to Namibia’s laws we are allowed to bid as long as we obey the laws, but I can assure you that until this day we never got a Government job.
TP: So do you feel you are being unfairly targeted because of your ties with the President?
JH: Uhhhhhhmmm, all I can say is that the people who twist the truth make me uncomfortable and despondent. I know there are some individuals who want to set me up but I am confident for the future because everything I ever did in Namibia is legal and it benefits Namibia.
TP: What is your take on Chinese businessmen who are involved in money laundering in Namibia?
JH: It is not my place to comment on that but I condemn it. Namibia’s banking rules are clear and they must be obeyed. We maintain that if you do business in Namibia you must comply with the laws, therefore we condemn any illegal activities occurring in Namibia. For some Chinese businesspeople the obstacle is the language barrier. I suggest that Namibia’s customs department, banks, investment coordination centres and the Chinese business community should cooperate to enhance the promotion of laws. Government and the Chinese business community can cooperate to translate laws into Chinese languages so that more Chinese can know the laws so that they can be compliant.
TP: On Poaching…
JH: As for poaching, this illegal behavior is not only objected by Namibia but China as well, even more I think. As the Chinese business community we are shocked and angered by the news we get of Chinese nationals getting arrested for poaching related crimes and we urge the Namibian and Chinese police to work together to crackdown on these criminals. We also condemn those who assist the criminals and they too must be brought to justice. In Namibia people get bail when they are arrested for poaching crimes but in China you will not get bail-that is how strict the laws are in China when it comes to poaching. I must say not all Chinese are into poaching, it is only a small portion that does it. For instance I like hunting, but I know very well that I need a hunting permit to do so, I always make sure I comply.
TP: The way forward for Jack Huang in Namibia…
JH: To answer your question, our future plans entails moving into vocational education development. As you know Oshikango’s economic situation is bad but the population is large. The town neighbors Angola and Zambia and therefore we will cooperate with other stakeholders to construct a vocational training centre in Oshikango for the Region. Economic development and the Harambee Prosperity Plan is not only meant to benefit investors and enterprises but all Namibians as well, the media as well.
We should all strive to bring a positive impact to the nation and those who want to blow the confidence of investors in this country should not be tolerated.