Understanding the economic landscape as dissected by experts
The economic landscape of any nation is a maze of interconnected sectors, each with its unique opportunities and challenges. Namibia is no exception. The recent Momentum High Table Discussions powered by the Stellenbosch Business School provided a deeper exploration of the challenges and potential solutions for economic diversification and sustainable development in Namibia.
Guided by Denille Roostee, Momentum Metropolitan Group Executive for Marketing, three panellists, with varied and extensive backgrounds in economic development and policy-making, dissected Namibia’s economic trajectory.
“Namibia stands at an economic crossroads, with the potential to become a beacon for other nations. The Momentum High Table Discussions emphasised that the key lies in harnessing diverse sectors, tapping into the wealth of natural resources responsibly, and paving the way for a brighter, sustainable future,” she said.
Robin Sherbourne, the author of the renowned “Guide to the Namibian Economy”, remarked on the limited diversification since 1990. While there have been outliers such as polished diamonds and refined zinc, Sherbourne emphasised the need for consistency in following through from reports and analysis. There’s an urgent requirement to foster an investment environment that not only retains but attracts new industries. “We need to refocus spending to high potential new businesses and SMEs,” Sherbourne stressed.
Potential in Natural Resources:
Prof Oliver C. Ruppel of the DROP Programme, University of Stellenbosch, highlighted the vast potential in Namibia’s natural resources. He pointed to the sun on the Namibian flag as a symbolic reminder of the country’s abundant natural resources. Beyond the conventional understanding of oil and gas, he encouraged Namibians to leverage the abundant sun, vast deserts, and wind.
These, when tapped into strategically important industries, can provide a sustainable and diverse economic future for Namibia. “The sun is an encouragement for us to harness the natural resources we’re blessed with,” Ruppel noted.
The Missing Link in Economic Sectors:
Salomo Hei, with a deep understanding of the economic and financial research sectors, pondered the discrepancy in Namibia’s economic structure. Namibia boasts a robust primary sector and a world-class financial sector, yet there’s an evident gap when it comes to the industrial sector. This calls for introspection and strategic planning.
Key Takeaways and the Path Forward:
Several pivotal questions emerged from the discussion:
• What hinders Namibia from developing a thriving manufacturing sector despite its success in mining and finance?
• With the increasing prospects of green hydrogen, oil, and gas, how can Namibia diversify its economy?
• What systemic barriers need addressing for effective economic diversification?
The Momentum High Table Discussions shed light on these pressing questions, advocating for a more systematic and consistent approach in assessing Namibia’s past and charting its economic future.
Concluding the discussion, Denille underscored the value of responsible leadership. “The path to sustainable growth requires unwavering transparency, integrity, and an inclusive approach, ensuring that the bounty of Namibia’s resources is a boon for every citizen.”
From the left, Prof Oliver Ruppel, Director, DROP Programme, University of Stellenbosch; Charnel-Ann Heyn, Momentum Marketing Specialist; Denille Roostee, Momentum Metropolitan Group Marketing Executive, Salomo Hei, Managing Director of Hei Investment and Chairperson of the Namibia Statistics Agency; and Mr Robin Sherbourne, an Economist representing the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).