Helao Nafidi

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Helao Nafidi
Helao Nafidi is located in Namibia
Helao Nafidi
Helao Nafidi
Location in Namibia
Coordinates: 17°24′S 15°53′E / 17.400°S 15.883°E / -17.400; 15.883
Country Namibia
RegionOhangwena Region
 • MayorPaulus Haikali
 • CEOInge Ipinge
 • Total19,375
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)

Helao Nafidi is a town in Ohangwena Region in northern Namibia at the border to Angola. It has been established in 2004 as an amalgamation of several villages and settlements along the main road between Oshikango and Ohangwena[2] which are both also part of the town. Helao Nafidi has 19,375 inhabitants.[1] The town is separated into three urban areas, Oshikango in the north, bisected by the Namibian–Angolan border, and Omafo and Ohangwena south of it, with settlements and villages in the agricultural area between them.[3]

All the villages that have been combined to form the town (Onhuno, Ohangwena, Omafo, Engela and Oshikango)[4] still maintained their own village councils until the 2015 local authority election.[5]


The area that today is the town of Helao Nafidi was heavily affected by the South African Border War 1966 to 1989 between South Africa and its allied forces (mainly UNITA) and the Angolan government and South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO). The border post at Oshikango, one of the oldest between Namibia and Angola, had been near destroyed in the guerrilla war, and the settlement appeared dilapidated until the mid-1990s.[3] After Namibian independence several settlements were proclaimed villages in 1996 in order to increase border trade.[6]


The border post at Oshikango is currently the busiest Namibian border post with on average 500 people crossing per day.[3] This has brought business opportunities to the surrounding area. With the help of the European Union an Export Processing Zone was established there, consisting of 14 warehouses. Omafo, another suburb of Helao Nafidi, hosts an annual trade show.[6]

The parallel prevalence of land owned by the villages, the town, and land under traditional jurisdiction has led to uncertainties about ownership that had to be settled in court.[7] The case of Helao Nafidi, where traditional authorities and the town and village councils frequently disagree on what is in their respective jurisdiction, can be seen as an example of the clash between tradition and modernity in Namibian law.[3][8]


In mid-2005, the second stage of the new Northern Railway began construction from Oshivelo to Oshikango. By mid-2006, it had reached Ondangwa. A train called Omugulugwombashe Star traveled weekly on this track until the locomotives broke down after a few rounds of service and were found unsuitable for Namibia’s railway network.[9] The railway extension to Ohangwena and Oshikango is under construction, and a short extension across the border was proposed in 2008 to bypass the congested border post.[10]


Helao Nafidi is governed by a town council that currently has seven seats.[11]

The 2015 local authority election was won by SWAPO which gained six seats (2,261 votes). The remaining seat was won by the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) with 272 votes.[5]


Helao Nafidi is inhabited by the Kwanyama community, a subgroup of the Ovambo. Members of this community live on both sides of the border and speak the same language. In the years 2005 and thereafter, foreign investors, mainly Chinese, have bought communal land in large quantities, leaving villagers without the means to raise livestock and farm. Some of the land transfers are thought to be unlawful, facilitated by corrupt town officials. The influx of Chinese businesspeople has been dubbed an "invasion".[3]


  1. ^ a b "Table 4.2.2 Urban population by Census years (2001 and 2011)" (PDF). Namibia 2011 - Population and Housing Census Main Report. Namibia Statistics Agency. p. 39. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  2. ^ Iileka, Merja (23 September 2006). "Helao Nafidi, Nantong City sign agreement". The Namibian.
  3. ^ a b c d e Niikondo, Andrew (August 2010). "Potential of friction in border town developments: A case study of Oshikango in the Helao Nafidi Town Council, Northern Namibia" (PDF). Journal of US-China Public Administration. 7 (8). ISSN 1548-6591.
  4. ^ Nandjato, Ileni (4 February 2016). "Town planners failed Helao Nafidi". Informanté.
  5. ^ a b "Local elections results". Electoral Commission of Namibia. 28 November 2015. p. 5. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Helao Nafidi Handelskou" [Helao Nafidi Trade Show]. Die Republikein (in Afrikaans). 9 November 2007.
  7. ^ Terblanché, Niël (1 September 2008). "Oshikango se dorpsraad dalk voor hof oor grond" [Oshikango's village council taken to court over land] (in Afrikaans). Die Republikein.
  8. ^ Mapaure, Clever (July 2009). "Jurisprudential aspects of proclaiming towns in communal areas in Namibia" (PDF). Namibia Law Journal. 1 (2): 2.
  9. ^ "Chinese rails for Oshikango railway". The Namibian. 13 November 2009.
  10. ^ "Govt extends rail link into Angola". The Namibian. 6 October 2008.
  11. ^ "Know Your Local Authority". Election Watch (3). Institute for Public Policy Research. 2015. p. 4.

Coordinates: 17°24′S 15°53′E / 17.400°S 15.883°E / -17.400; 15.883