Lehana Nel of Tax Solutions Namibia travelled from Gobabis, roughly 110kms from the western Botswana border to Joburg to attend the Accounting and Finance Show held at the Sandton Convention Centre this week.
Brought up on a farm in Limpopo Province where her parents grew strawberries and raised cattle, she married a vet from Namibia and moved there nine years ago to farm and start up an accounting practice.
Gobabis is big cattle country, exporting nearly 3,000 head of cattle per week – mostly through South Africa, and Nel is one of just two registered accountants in the town. Nel sees her job as helping farmers and other clients navigate the regulatory and compliance hurdles needed for exporting, and managing their cash flows to maximise profits.
She is currently enrolled with University of SA (Unisa) on a forensic auditing course, and then plans to become a Chartered Accountant.
“Farmers have very specific accounting needs, and this is the area I want to specialise in,” she says. “It’s not just bookkeeping services that they need. Most of the livestock from Namibia is exported, so you have to know export requirements, export and health permits, and when to zero-rate items. There are a lot of complexities around the business of farming.”
According to the Windhoek Observer, during the 2017 financial year, Namibia through Meatco, exported 85 percent of its meat industry products, realising N$2 billion.
In the same period, the country exported 2,77 million cattle, 1,97 million sheep and 1,79 million goats. Namibian meat is renowned for being hormone-free and animals are reared on huge, natural grass pastures.
Until recently, most meat went to SA, Norway and other EU countries, but negotiations to export meat products to the US, China and Hong Kong have recently been concluded. Beef exports are routed through Meatco, the semi-state owned meat company, which has EU-certified export abattoirs.
“There’s a big need for accounting services in Namibia, particularly in the farming community,” says Nel. “I help my clients with cost accounting and cash flow projections, since this is a business where correct management of cash – and correct costing – are vital.”
Parts of Namibia have been gripped by drought for several years, forcing some farmers to diversify – either by installing irrigation systems or expanding into game farming.
It helps that Nel is both a farmer and an accountant. That gives her a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by farmers, and – just as crucially – how to overcome them.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.