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Opinion - Namibia can achieve economic success by the year 2030

2022-10-24  Josef Kefas Sheehama

Opinion - Namibia can achieve economic success by the year 2030

First, let us define what economic success is. Economic success includes employment generation, higher earnings per capita, the number of people pulled up from below poverty, higher gross fixed capital formation by not just industries, but households as well and few others.

Every country needs sacrifice to build it, otherwise it’s a piece of land. Remember, diamonds are created under pressure, so let’s hold on. To recognise true economic developments that determine our well-being and even survival involve an awareness and application of the psychological trends that motivate mankind. The fact is, sound economic policy demands that all sectors of society must be united in psychologically determining to modernise society as a unit. One section of society cannot be going in one direction and an equal part of the society going in another. There will be a collision sooner or later. We need to work together. His Excellency Dr Sam Nujoma, Founding and Father of the Nation, says “a people united striving to achieve a common good for all members of society will emerge victorious,”. Therefore, the whole society must be willing to change their attitudes and even societal beliefs as we forge ahead into new industrial domains. Indeed, all sectors of society must see the wisdom of changing our attitudes on how to do business and earn a living in this new and changing environment that modernisation is forcing on us. Let’s face it folks, it is time to give up old mindsets. Frankly, I think that most of us have learned our lessons in this regard, and we will most likely not have to endure such setbacks in our economy. But what must be done for the good of the whole country and the world is the fact that we must all grow together and as ONE NAMIBIA, and be willing to change our ways and not develop a two or three-tier culture that many other countries still rely on.

Furthermore, in order to achieve economic success, we must make significant advancement in boosting the development of the country’s manufacturing sector within the holistic and inclusive growth of the whole economy. We need to be less wasteful. We need to economise our resources. The sooner we start tackling it, the better. The Namibian economy has experienced stagnation, which has put a strain in the effort to tackle the historical structural inequalities, unemployment and poverty. There should be substantial structural change in the economy that would unlock growth and allow for development. Many people lost their jobs, many have gone without income for extended periods, and many are going hungry every day. Inequality is expected to widen and poverty to deepen. Given the extent of the devastation, the economic response required should match or even surpass the scale of the disruption caused. Namibia, like other emerging markets, has a critical need to attract foreign investment, while at the same time driving economic transformation. Infrastructure investment, delivery and maintenance will play a leading role in Namibia’s economic stimulation.

There is a need for leaders to see the value in creating an enabling environment for young people to tap into blue and green economic pathways to drive sustainable development and create jobs. Economic reforms, together with structural and technological change, are bringing about new business opportunities and with them demand for new skills. This is an opportunity to provide youth with quick and affordable reskilling and upskilling opportunities, while also building the long-term data infrastructure needed to expand the number of valuable credential pathways available in Namibia. Namibia’s economic policy includes developing a better-educated and more skilled workforce, enhancing competition, promoting innovation, halting and reversing de-industrialisation, diversifying the economy into new sectors, building strong relations with other emerging economies, and boosting intra-regional trade. The hope is that such broad-based industrialisation will promote employment growth and increase the participation of historically disadvantaged people and marginalised regions in the mainstream economy. The problem of chronic unemployment and the recent decline in the country’s industrial and manufacturing capacity need addressing. The plans outline cross-cutting actions that are crucial for industrial development, such as industrial financing schemes and skills development programmes, and pinpoint sectors which are to be promoted through targeted support for investment, infrastructure and industrial upgrading.

To increase the local domestic and foreign supply of manufactured goods, the government should reform the economy in order to convey shortcomings in the business environment by developing infrastructure and easing business regulations. The government should encourage the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development to monitor the country’s business regulations, tourism, foreign trade, foreign and public investments, environmental conversations and broader economic development planning. As part of the strategic plan to transform the agricultural sector, politicians should not administer the land consolidation and crop intensification programmes. This programme should be administered by the private sector. After the implementations of these programmes, additionally, numerous interventions and agricultural reforms should be implemented by the government in order to improve land use patterns. This included land reforms that permit the registration and regulation of land. It is crucial that before policies are implemented, the government is able to understand the mechanisms, workability and the effect of such policies on the economy.

Furthermore, we should undertake research on the best economies, and learn a few things about how they change their fortunes for the benefit of the citizens. For example, China’s productivity-enhancing agricultural reforms in the 1980s were spurred partly by growth in the non-agricultural sector, a result of policies aimed at stimulating township and village enterprises. Similarly, in the 1990s, China addressed the build-up of bad debt and unfinished construction projects, the result of state-owned enterprises’ chronic loss-making and excessive property investments, respectively, by implementing institutional reforms that stimulated growth in more dynamic sectors, thereby offsetting the SOEs’ declining return on capital. 

Resilience has thus characterised the interaction between the government and markets since the introduction of Deng’s reforms. Indeed, according to late economist Gustav Ranis, the interactive dynamic of policy and market institutions was the key to the success of the East Asian economies. For example, fiscal decentralisation in China, spurred by local institutions’ demands for increased autonomy, has helped to fuel regional competition and sustain an increasingly market-oriented economic environment.

To this end, the macro-economic stability would strengthen by virtue of reducing debt finance, and government will be able to run the economy on the strength of fiscal consolidation, which is within government’s means to create a strong macroeconomic position. We need to create better opportunities for farmers, and focus on the needs of undernourished groups. Sustainability means using fewer natural resources to produce food and reducing food waste and loss. Improved nutrition means reducing both hunger and obesity through improved education, and access and availability of quality foods.

Therefore, to reduce red tape, combat corruption and keep nepotism in check are essential. Getting this right will create a stable and predictable business environment, which will, in turn, fuel investment, create jobs and facilitate the production of higher value goods and services in an economy. We need new policy frameworks and solutions that give economies every chance to drive growth that is inclusive and not limited to small elites. This means looking beyond redistribution to other levers that promote broad-based increases in living standards, for example entrepreneurship, well-functioning financial systems and the upholding of ethical values in the business and public

2022-10-24  Josef Kefas Sheehama

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