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A People united for Prosperity: 33 Years of Independence calls for economic emancipation

A People united for Prosperity: 33 Years of Independence calls for economic emancipation

By Josef Kefas Sheehama.

It is our economic emancipation in which entrepreneurship and small business development are critical elements that will earn Namibia her rightful place at the African continent roundtable. Leaving no one behind is not a numbers game, but one that calls for re-evaluating and reimagining what Independence means and provides.

The 33 Independence reminds us about our freedom and also the struggle, sacrifice, and gratitude we need to show to our heroes and heroines, who gifted us an independent life. This year’s Independence Day celebrates precisely how socioeconomic status is an important factor that may carry a great deal of weight in our country, empower people, foster peace, build shared prosperity, and protect a fragile world.

If we are to make a difference in the next seven years, inclusion, equity, quality, and lifelong learning must carry their weight in practice and not just symbolically. Without growth, there is little opportunity. And without opportunity, there are severe social problems. Namibia is experiencing slow economic growth and major barriers to public and private sector innovation. We need smarter policies to take full advantage of the digital economy and strengthen our capacity to build society, generate jobs, and improve long-term economic growth. This focus should be front and centre for policymakers as they wrestle with social and economic challenges. We must support more inclusive planning and policy frameworks, using disaggregated data to create a more accurate picture of who is missing out and why.

Equity is intrinsically linked to inclusion, to breaking the circle of inequalities. The critical interventions supporting Vision 2030 must include stimulating the economy, raising investment and employment levels, especially youth employment, strengthening the capacity of the state, and strengthening partnerships. It goes to the heart of Namibia’s major challenges of poverty and inequality which, together with unemployment, are identified in the National Development Plans as the triple challenge that is to be overcome by 2030.

A vibrant and robust agriculture is a strong pillar providing employment opportunities for the teeming population, eradicating poverty, and contributing to the growth of the economy. Agriculture plays a critical role in transforming the economy to reach these goals, along with achieving other essential development goals like ensuring food security and improving nutrition. Therefore, in order to end hunger and undernutrition while accelerating economic growth, agricultural transformation must become a reality.

Furthermore, entrepreneurs are catalyst agents for the expansion and promotion of economic activities in every sphere of the economic life of a country. Namibia in particular has taken great strides to support its entrepreneurs by introducing entrepreneurship development to its school curriculum and SME Economic Recovery Loan Scheme in the amount of N$500 million.

In addition, the National Development Plans are very important in redefining the future of Namibia’s Economic recovery and growth plan. Proper implementation of the National Development Plans would restructure the economy and could put the country onto a sustained higher growth path. The plans focus on the critical capabilities needed to transform the economy and society. Namibia must find ways to urgently reduce alarming levels of youth unemployment and to provide young people with broader opportunities.

It is therefore, of vital importance that Namibia restructure the economy so that its wealth is shared by all people, Black and White, to ensure that everybody enjoys a decent and rising standard of living. I further, consent to His Excellence, Dr. Hage Geingob’s view that the struggle for economic emancipation would require the same sacrifices and selflessness that the initial struggle for political self-determination demanded.

The government should urgently implement reforms that can boost Namibia’s growth in the short term, while also creating the conditions for higher long-term sustainable growth. These growth reforms should promote economic transformation, support labour-intensive growth, and create a globally competitive economy. Implementing flexible industrial and trade policies to promote competitiveness and facilitate long-run growth should continue to be a strategic policy focus area. Manufacturing and agriculture are an engine of economic growth.

It will be crucial to adequately design, monitor and evaluate policies to ensure that resources are not wasted. As industrial policy by definition discriminates against non-targeted sectors of the economy, these complications call for pragmatic ways of assessing policies in terms of trade-offs among various development goals. Therefore, the growth and development of the informal sector can be a panacea and needs to be supported in full throttle. It is safe to conclude that support for the informal sector is critical for promoting development in Namibia. The informal sector can close the gap of unemployment and can possibly address the problem of poverty. Importantly, the government policies on the sector should focus on investing in human capital in the informal sector for this will encourage innovation and thus promote industrialization and further economic growth. Investing in the informal sector can be an important strategy for promoting economic development. Policies should therefore focus on formalizing the informal sector for this will address all the challenges faced by the sector.

The call for economic emancipation must be embraced by all of us to defuse the ticking time bomb. Economic freedom and prosperity require a culture of learning and teaching. They require an educational system directed to the full development of the human personality. The deepening moral degeneration in our country highlights the fact that our educational system must address both the spiritual and material aspects of the human personality.

Further to this‚ leaders must take actions to rid the economy of legislative and regulatory constraints in key industries‚ such as suspending the job-killing visa regulations. Namibia needs to empower small businesses and micro enterprises to grow. The government must take away the hurdles faced by these enterprises and cut the red tape that constrains them. The government needs to look at expanding the benefits enjoyed by companies in Special Economic Zones to the whole country in order to increase exports and attract foreign investment.

To that end, transformation in Namibia heavily relies on citizen participation to build a more equitable society where opportunity is not defined by race, gender, class, political affiliation or religion. This means taking radical steps to build people’s capabilities through access to quality education and enabling access to employment and transforming ownership of the economy. This can be achieved through active citizenship education to empower all citizens to participate in economic and political institutitons.

Economic emancipation can only become a reality if every Namibian is confident to embrace the opportunities and potential of an equitable social contract in a positive manner.


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