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It is good to be reminded of what is most important to us but then we must be consistent

It is good to be reminded of what is most important to us but then we must be consistent

The State of the Nation Address is an elegant document. It encapsulates all our dreams and desires, and it does not shy away from naming those areas where we are lacking, or have steered off course.

It was a pleasure reading through the whole statement. The eloquence in phrasing what goes through most people’s minds is commendable. For a person working with documents every day of his life, it was immediately obvious that much thought and consideration have gone into preparing the text.

If all sounds so good and noble on paper, then where have we lost the track?

I pondered this question as I dug deeper and deeper into this tome that is supposed to be the annual snapshot of our health as a nation, or in the words of the President, “Let us pull together, strengthened by unity, galvanized by liberty and fortified by justice.”

The State of the Nation Address really covers everything that matters to us as Namibians. Deconstructing the document, I found references to at least 31 overarching themes or topics that impact our daily lives. From this assessment alone, it is obvious that any serious discussion of the Address will not do justice by trying to cover it all.

Therefore I picked only three elements which I believe to be fundamental to the majority of the punted themes: – water, fertility and foreign relations.

Water enjoyed more than just the cursory mention. The President referred to this commodity where he summarises the improvement in the lives of ordinary Namibians, using access to potable water as a benchmark for wellness and better living conditions. There is nothing to fault in his assessment, also not in the prime spot water enjoyed amongst all the other issues. I fully agree that clean drinking water for every Namibian within a convenient distance, preferably in every person’s home, is a sine qua non.

However, what I would have loved to see is a far greater emphasis on the overall availability of raw water. Before we can get to any of the more elevated goals of giving every Namibian drinking water, we first have to come to the point where the raw material is available in sufficient quantities to carry the rest of the downstream beneficiation process.

Water is Namibia’s development singularity. It is the one common substance of which we not nearly have enough. Whether we make water by desalination, extraction, pumping the large rivers, using innovative technology, or whatever means, we will constantly run into existential bottlenecks for the pervasive lack of water.

To overcome this clear and present shortcoming means that we will have to allocate much more resources to the science of “making water.” Water is of such paramount importance, we can easily get rid of several of the obsolete ministries and dedicate a whole new ministry to the sole task of overseeing all aspects of water, from the point of extraction to where it ends up in our taps.

As I read through the Address, I sensed a slight consternation as I progressed, turning page after page, some with rather convincing statistics but not finding any reference to fertility.

If a lack of water is our main problem, now and in future, then fertility is our second most pressing problem. One does not need fancy modelling or a crystal ball to figure out that in an economy that got smaller three years in a row with a population that continued to grow at 3.5% unabated, everybody is now poorer roughly by 10%. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but it is not an invalid observation that as long as the population growth rate exceeds the economic growth rate, poverty will only continue to increase. So will unemployment and inequality.

I do not know how the President is going to sell it to his constituency that we can not afford to proliferate indiscriminately. At some point we will have to accept responsibility for the children we bring into this world, and we will have to embrace the available technology with which we control our birth rate.

I know that any discussion about fertility and birth control opens a can of worms and I do not want to involve myself with the ethics, but I need to underscore the fundamental premise that uncontrolled growth just makes us poorer by the day. It would have been nice to see the President and his army of advisors also realise this inevitability.

Finally, it was humorous to read about all the African and Middle East issues with which we concern ourselves but then we fall into the double-standards trap of condemning Marocco but turning a blind eye to Somalia, or any of the disfunctional Sahel states for that matter. Even closer to home, we condone a profligate kingdom but then we want to go solve North Africa’s problems.

I am sorry, Mr President, but it simply does not ring true.


 

About The Author

Daniel Steinmann

Brief CV of Daniel Steinmann. Born 24 February 1961, Johannesburg. Educated at the University of Pretoria: BA, BA(hons), BD. Postgraduate degrees are in Philosophy and Divinity. Editor of the Namibia Economist since 1991. Daniel Steinmann has steered the Economist as editor for the past 29 years. The Economist started as a monthly free-sheet, then moved to a weekly paper edition (1996 to 2016), and on 01 December 2016 to a daily digital newspaper at www.economist.com.na. It is the first Namibian newspaper to go fully digital. Daniel Steinmann is an authority on macro-economics having established a sound record of budget analysis, strategic planning and assessing the impact of policy formulation. For eight years, he hosted a weekly talk-show on NBC Radio, explaining complex economic concepts to a lay audience in a relaxed, conversational manner. He was a founding member of the Editors' Forum of Namibia. Over the years, he has mentored hundreds of journalism students as interns and as young professional jourlists. He regularly helps economics students, both graduate and post-graduate, to prepare for examinations and moderator reviews. He is the Namibian respondent for the World Economic Survey conducted every quarter for the Ifo Center for Business Cycle Analysis and Surveys at the University of Munich in Germany. He is frequently consulted by NGOs and international analysts on local economic trends and developments. Send comments to daniel@economist.com.na

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

Promotion

20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.