Hangana Abalone general manager leads in uncharted waters

Aune Nantinda

As a measure to foster employer-employee relations, a bargaining agreement between subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group, Hangana Abalone, and the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU) was signed on 11 June 2020. One of those at the helm of operations, welcoming this accomplishment is General Manager at Hangana Abalone, Aune Nantinda. Continuously working to meet the needs of stakeholders, Nantinda has been proving herself as a formidable female force within in the company. If her seashell necklace is anything to go by, it is clear Nantinda carries all things abalone close to her heart – literally and figuratively.

Nantinda joined the O&L team as Production Manager at Hangana Seafood, a position she held for ten years before she transitioned to General Manager at Hangana Abalone in Lüderitz last year. During her years in production management she became well versed in corporate dynamics and team building, essential when managing about 900 people. Since joining Hangana Abalone, she has been breaking new ground with her efforts to establish the company as the leader in abalone. Nantinda: “Our farm is the only land-based abalone farm in Namibia to date, making Hangana Abalone a real pioneer. Fishing can be unpredictable, a reason why a role like mine does not have a fixed job description. You have to be driven to navigate whatever comes your way and I am grateful for the opportunity to steer the ship in unknown waters.

“I am not one for stagnation so being a part of an advancing company like Hangana Abalone is exciting. Our hatching programme, developed to ensure the sustainable spawning and harvesting of abalone, has been progressing steadily. The viability of the programme depends on populating every life stage of the abalone, as it takes about four years for abalone to reach market size. Once sufficient abalone populations are established, we hope to reach production volumes of up to 300 metric tons per year. I dream of having a fully functioning abalone farm that packs and ships products every day, just like any other factory would.” Farm expansion is already underway and additional employment opportunities are set to follow.

Nantinda also sees potential scope for expansion along the value chain that would benefit both the company and the town of Lüderitz. Under consideration is Hangana Abalone manufacturing its own tanks and baskets in Lüderitz – containers which house the abalone and are currently imported from South Africa. Nantinda also has her eyes on establishing a cannery in Lüderitz, which would be a first for the town. “The operation need not be limited to the canning of abalone as there would be potential for economies of scale. We also wish to start cultivating kelp on site for abalone feed and conducting our own research activities. We have been guided by international research, but we need to generate more data on Namibian waters specifically.” All of these activities may create future opportunities for employment in Lüderitz.

Abalone is a luxury product worthy of premium returns and Nantinda wants to take full advantage of this niche market, both overseas and locally. According to Nantinda: “Export markets, particularly those in Asia, are currently being explored, but it would also be gratifying to see abalone served in local restaurants across the country. I want locals to delight in the fruits of our abalone industry and those who contribute to its production should recognise any success of the company as their own. It is important that my team always feel empowered and have a supportive environment, that when combined with determination and passion, fuels possibilities. No one should underestimate themselves, and I especially encourage other women as well as youngsters starting out in their careers to have the courage to try new things.”

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