A technology investment fund would accelerate Namibia’s development
By Llewellyn le Hané.
To build a sustainable future for Namibia, our children, and far into the future, we need to invest in Namibia. There needs to be an investment at all levels and in all sectors. In the relatively short term, we are looking at achieving Vision 2030 as a nation.
But what about beyond? The Agenda 2063, is Africa’s development blueprint to achieve inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development over 50 years.
Namibia is looking at many different forms of investment from investing in, infrastructure, to clean energy, the green economy, oil, hospitality, and agriculture. However, as a country championing itself as a ‘knowledge-based’ society, there seems to be a lack of real investment in technology.
Especially if we look at other countries. Across the world from the USA, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, to name just three actively investing in technology and innovation. Much closer to home we have Rwanda, a country that through its Rwanda Innovation Fund is driving and transforming the economy.
The Fund address the financing gap that tech-enabled companies face at different growth stages in Rwanda and the wider East African region. To address the financing gap, the project will establish affordable funding mechanisms for companies to grow, this should be used as a blueprint, not just for Namibia, but for many other emerging economies in Africa as well.
Countries don’t need to be large or have big populations to start investing in technology, Israel and Estonia are perfect examples of this. Israel invested more than US$ 8.4 Billion in the last 12-month period, with Estonia investing almost US$ 1.2 Billion in that same period.
The country of Estonia only has a population of 1.3 million, about a million less than Namibia. This goes to show, that if the desire is there to innovate and invest, it is possible as a nation.
The governments created a conducive investment and start-up climate in these countries for entrepreneurs and existing companies to access funding to develop new technology and innovations. There is no reason Namibia cannot do the same.
Our country issues bonds to fund major capital investments as a country, with markets as volatile as they are across the world, Government-issued bonds are very sought after. The Namibian bonds funding infrastructure projects are often majorly oversubscribed and garner investments from abroad.
What if the Namibian Government was to create a bond or an investment vehicle that focused on investing in technology and innovation. Of course, the Bank of Namibia, DBN, and GIPF already have investment funds, but there is not a dedicated fund focused on technology. Imagine creating access to funding for entrepreneurs, companies, and developers right here in Namibia.
Creating a bond that gives access to true venture capital. If we are serious as a nation about moving away from being an agriculture-based society to becoming a knowledge-based and tech-driven nation, we need investment. This investment does not just have to come from the Namibian people and local institutional investors, although that would be nice. As this would mean we keep ownership of anything that is developed, created, and invented within our borders.
The reality is, that there are plenty of funds, countries, and people willing to invest in what may potentially be new; Facebook, Tesla, WhatsApp, TikTok, or the African Google. By creating the right ecosystem and creating a path to access the necessary funding there is no reason that within a few short years a technology innovation fund would not start bearing fruit.
Our population is young and driven and capable, Africa has a population of more than a billion people, and we could be innovating and developing our technology and applications. A Namibian government-driven Technology fund could accelerate our development as a nation and put us in the driver’s seat well before 2063.