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Home / Opinion - Reflections on Geingob’s economic legacy

Opinion - Reflections on Geingob’s economic legacy

2024-02-23  Josef Kefas Sheehama

Opinion - Reflections on Geingob’s economic legacy

Today, Namibia mourns the loss of one of its most influential leaders, Hage Geingob, Namibia's third president, who died on 4 February 2024 at the age of 82.

It is fair that we revisit Geingob’s role in the economic governance of Namibia, particularly some of the economic policies and

 programmes that laid the foundation for the country's economic growth.  Although some of the critics and economic analysts, over the years, have downplayed the impact of those policies on the overall development of the country, it is impossible to ignore their far-reaching impact on ordinary Namibians. This included economic recovery programmes, poverty reduction strategies, institutional structures for reducing poverty, poverty monitoring, and indicators. President Geingob leveraged his personal qualities and principles of integrity, accountability and service to champion the implementation of those economic reforms. 

His economic strategy has been the identification of poverty reduction as an overarching objective of ensuring macroeconomic stability, which is crucial for ensuring sustainable economic growth. 

Therefore, it is worth noting  that the economic policies and reforms rolled out by the president saw progress in poverty reduction and employment-creation.

Under the leadership of Geingob, Namibia unveiled an economic recovery programme aimed at reversing a protracted period of serious economic decline characterised by Covid-19, high inflation rates, high unemployment and geopolitics. Upon the commencement of his presidency, he presented a body framework which aimed at guiding his leadership towards prosperity.  This development map was called Harambee Prosperity Plans (HPP1 and II). These plans have been adopted to accelerate the implementation and impact of the aforementioned plans and strategies. It was Geingob who appointed an 11-member Business Rescue Task Force to review business and insolvency legislation to rescue businesses in financial distress.

Furthermore, Namibia is fast becoming a frontrunner in the green hydrogen race, which was under the leadership of president Geingob. 

It will help the government in their key role to make strategic decisions about investing in projects which strengthen the local green transition.  In that way, it contributes to the development of the country in terms of economic growth, creation of jobs and local use of green hydrogen.  President Hage Gottfried Geingob, head of State of the Republic of Namibia, thank you for promoting our country. 

You tackled the looming crisis of climate change and the degradation of our environment.  You are a great man with the integrity, values and abilities our country needs. You will always be in our hearts. My fellow citizens, there are a lot of things that divide us, but one thing that unites us, or should unite us, is that we want to see our country succeed in a green hydrogen economy. We want it to stay great, and become even better. 

It is clear that there is an ideological and political impetus for establishing hydrogen as a key component of the energy mix as part of the movement towards a carbon- neutral environment. Therefore, green hydrogen can play a significant role in these efforts, replacing carbon-intensive fuels across the economy, and leading to substantial emission reductions. Moreover, president Geingob shaped the future of Namibia by focusing on the advancement of the economy, as well as a focus on the importance of the economy in the fight against poverty. The president was a frontrunner in addressing macro-economic stability, economic transformation, SME Development and economic competitiveness. 

Additionally, under his leadership, we have witnessed oil discoveries in Namibia, which will bring in an equivalent of N$53 billion in revenues for the state, a prominent global consultancy group has estimated. 

This discovery will significantly improve energy security in a nation which relies heavily on petroleum imports. The development of a consistent domestic energy supply will prove critical for the economy, while reducing imports from neighbouring countries. 

Notably, the creation of a domestic petroleum market will create thousands of jobs for the  local population across every industry in the value chain, while motivating the creation and establishment of various domestic companies. Furthermore, we witnessed the Bank of Namibia and the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises relaunching the SME Economic Recovery Loan Scheme on 2 February 2023 with a share capital of N$500 million.   The relaunched SME Economic Recovery Loan Scheme is a revamp of the earlier loan scheme, and is designed to provide small and medium-sized businesses access to government-guaranteed loans to help their businesses recover from the impact of Covid-19; for the SMEs which survived. SMEs provide some form of employment and income to 160 000 people, representing approximately one-third of the nation’s workforce. In terms of full-time employment, this sector currently employs about 60 000 people.  These consensus-building efforts led to the economic transformation that rolled out pragmatic policy measures for accelerated economic growth within the framework of Namibia’s Vision 2030. President Geingob declared that the era of exporting raw materials from Namibia is over. This move aimed to boost the value of the exports. It is an excellent opportunity for the domestic market to grow, and this will address unemployment
in the country. 

The Head of State made a very remarkable economic statement by encouraging economic partnerships, grounded in the common interests of forging a more equitable and sustainable world, and seeking to deepen cooperation and broaden areas of mutual collaboration to construct sustainable industrial clusters for both Namibia and the
international community. 

Above all, Namibia fairly increased the gross domestic product (GDP), which shows that the country is able to make a dent in the economic difficulties it
faces. In conclusion, as I reflected on the Economic Legacy of president Geingob, I am reminded of the immense responsibility we bear to honor his vision and carry
his work forward, particularly on Green Hydrogen. Together, we can build a Namibia that honours Geingob’s economic legacy and paves the way for a brighter and more inclusive
future: “No Namibian should feel left out”.

May you rest in peace. You will always be remembered. Your legacy will forever be etched in our minds and hearts.


*Josef Kefas Sheehama is an independent economics and business researcher.

2024-02-23  Josef Kefas Sheehama

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